Ex-Design Council chief John Mathers launches British Design Fund

Mathers will take on the role of director in the company working with entrepreneur Damon Bonser to help product designers get their products to market.


Ex-Design Council chief executive John Mathers has joined forces with design entrepreneur Damon Bonser to launch the British Design Fund, an investment fund for UK-based product design and manufacturing start-ups.

Bonser founded the company and Mathers has been named as director. The British Design Fund is setting out to help consumer product and hardware-based start-ups take their products to market.

Funding will be available to Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)-qualifying companies.

The SEIS scheme was introduced by Government in 2011 and offered tax benefits to investors in return for investment in UK start-ups.


Mathers, Bonser and a panel of experts with knowledge of different sectors will help entrepreneurs accelerate their product to market.

Bonser says that although the UK has the second largest design sector in the world there is a distinct lack of equity funding in early stage product design and hardware businesses.

“Most product start-ups are relying upon innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground – if they’re lucky. The British Design Fund aims to fill that gap and help entrepreneurs like myself significantly increase their chance of success in such a thriving sector,” he says.

During his time at the Design Council Mathers says that he recognised that the UK’s design sector is growing – not just in size but in its contribution to the UK economy.

“With almost £72bn generated in 2015 alone, it makes no sense why funding is so low for the sector. That’s what has driven me to help drive change and join Damon in launching the British Design Fund,” Mathers says.


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  • Louise Beard January 31, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Product start-ups we see in our design consultancy on a daily basis are in need of funding and crowd funding and innovation grants simply are not always available, or large enough. A new fund aimed at product design is great news.

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