John Mathers, ex-CEO of the Design Council, has teamed up with design entrepreneur Damon Bonser to launch the British Design Fund, which aims to provide funding to help consumer product and hardware-based start-ups take their products to market. Bonser is founding CEO of the British Design Fund, with Mathers joining him as director of the scheme. Funding will be available to Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)-qualifying companies. The initiative will also offer advice from a panel of experts – including Mathers and Bonser – on relevant market sector know-how to help entrepreneurs accelerate their product to market, along with the funding they need to prototype, test and set up manufacturing. “The UK has the second largest design sector in the world, yet there is an astonishing lack of equity funding into early stage product design and hardware businesses,” Bonser said. “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.” “During my role at the Design Council, I saw how significantly fast the UK’s design sector is growing – not just in size but in its contribution to the UK economy,” Mathers added. “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 in the sector a change and join Damon in launching the British Design Fund.”

Over 100 British R&D projects supported with £15m government backing
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