John Mathers, previous CEO of the Design Council, is calling for greater investment in the British product design industry, after fundraising £500,000 through a new scheme.
The British Design Fund, set up by Mathers and creative industries’ entrepreneur Damon Bonser, is an investment fund which provides financial support for early-stage product design and manufacturing companies in the UK.
160 investors have put in £500,000
It was launched on crowdfunding site Seedrs earlier this year, and has now reached its target of £500,000 from over 160 investors.
The money will go towards product design and manufacturing companies, with over 100 companies already registered for funding since the launch. Individuals and companies that have invested will see returns once the funded start-ups begin making profits.
The aim is to help budding British design entrepreneurs get their products off the ground, says Bonser, and make up for “an astonishing lack of equity funding into early-stage product design businesses”.
“Most product start-ups rely on innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground – if they’re lucky,” he says. “The British Design Fund aims to fill that gap and help entrepreneurs like me significantly increase their chance of success in such a thriving sector.”
Remain internationally competitive after Brexit
In helping businesses grow, Mathers and Bonser also hope the fund will enable the British product design industry to keep up with other countries and remain internationally competitive following Brexit.
The UK’s design sector contributed £72 bn to the UK economy in 2015. “During my role at the Design Council, I saw how significantly fast the UK’s design sector is growing,” says Mathers. “It makes no sense that funding for the sector is so low. That’s why I am driving a change in the sector.”
The British Design Fund stays open for further investment on Seedrs until 30 June, with the aim of “supporting and growing” as many small design businesses as possible, says Bonser.