Lockdowns and workouts

On the anniversary of two years of lockdown in the UK here is a view of what we’ve been up to over that time. Work from home, work from office (#WFH) and a bit of work from anywhere.

We have now added new offices in London to the existing base in Reigate, Surrey. This seems counterintuitive for some people as many talk about closing offices. Edale has had some great adventures through this torrid time and some memorable achievements.

In the week up to the UK lockdown on the 23rd March 2020, we were in Worcestershire doing some workshops with some start-up businesses. We moved to a hybrid delivery for the 18th March session with a few people already on zoom and a few at the kiln coworking space. Who knew that we would be living online for such an expanse of time.

Space2Waves Epitomises what we did during lockdown in that an internationalisation program was moved to digital delivery where we were helping maritime and space companies with their planning, development and connections into the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. Our initial activities involve workshops with regard to doing business in these two markets and one-to-one coaching. Additional work then involved fact-finding to identify local corporate that could do business with the cohort members. Further, we then added a virtual matchmaking showcase. And now we have a plan to deliver a virtual trade mission through online delivery in May 2022.

Year-end saw us take desks in London. We also managed social media for Santa Landing and Sleigh through the streets of Reigate and Redhill. This charity work raised £16,000 for good local causes and was a nice thing as omicron spread through the country and allowed people to come to their front door for festive cheer.

February 2022 saw the return of travels and business planning. Through the month we visited Miami, the hub for financial services into Latin America and Abu Dhabi planning for business expansion and development of new projects. Nice to see an airport busy again.

2021 saw us move our business support up with us now working in over 20% of the LEPs regions in England.

First structural fund uses for business support post Brexit

Smaller company business support across the UK has been principally been funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Following Brexit, these programmes will be reaching the end of their funded lives and new monies will be coming from a new scheme from Westminister. The Community Renewal Fund is a transition mechanism as the UK Prosperity Fund is created.

Given Edale’s role in business support, we thought it useful to analyse how the funds were allocated.

Here are some of the interesting trends from the 3 November published announcement based on Edale analysis. A total of £203,208,427 has been allocated to 477 projects. This is regionally split England 61.79%, Scotland 9.07%, Wales 23.06% and Northern Ireland 6.08%.

RegionTotal AmountNumber of Projects
England £125,561,514 225
Northern Ireland £12,362,975 31
Scotland £18,428,681 56
Wales £46,855,257 165
Grand Total £203,208,427 477

England regional allocation descending

England has recieved £125m with the top five regions getting a third of funds. The top 10 regions get 45% of the funds. The big beneficiaries are Devon County Council, Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, Kent County Council, Norfolk County Council and West Midlands Combined Authority.

RegionAllocation
Devon County Council7.44%
Sheffield City Region Combined Authority6.55%
Kent County Council5.46%
Norfolk County Council5.22%
West Midlands Combined Authority4.27%
Essex County Council3.54%
Greater Manchester Combined Authority3.47%
Nottinghamshire County Council3.14%
Greater London Authority3.02%
Somerset County Council2.90%
Lancashire County Council2.77%
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority2.70%
Hertfordshire County Council2.60%
Leicester City Council2.38%
Nottingham City Council2.29%
North Northamptonshire Unitary Council2.27%
North Somerset Council2.26%
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority2.24%
Worcestershire County Council2.22%
Stoke-on-Trent City Council2.21%
Warwickshire County Council2.21%
East Sussex County Council2.05%
West Yorkshire Combined Authority2.02%
West of England Combined Authority1.96%
Gateshead Council1.74%
Derbyshire County Council1.59%
Sunderland City Council1.27%
Portsmouth City Council1.27%
Tees Valley Combined Authority1.24%
North of Tyne Combined Authority1.23%
Herefordshire County Council1.23%
Staffordshire County Council1.20%
North Lincolnshire Council1.05%
North East Lincolnshire Council1.03%
Plymouth City Council0.95%
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council0.84%
Cornwall Council0.84%
Suffolk County Council0.75%
Durham County Council0.67%
Torbay Council0.65%
Lincolnshire County Council0.65%
Blackpool Council0.62%
North Yorkshire County Council0.61%
Buckinghamshire Council0.61%
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council0.55%
Medway Council0.48%
City of York Council0.47%
Isles of Scilly Council0.35%
West Northamptonshire Unitary Council0.27%
Hampshire County Council0.17%
Hull City Council0.16%
Oxfordshire County Council0.13%
Thurrock Council0.08%
Dorset Council0.07%
Grand Total100.00%

Scotland regional allocation descending

RecipientAllocation
North Lanarkshire Council13.70%
Argyll and Bute Council11.02%
Dumfries and Galloway Council8.02%
Scottish Borders Council7.26%
East Ayrshire Council7.05%
Falkirk Council7.01%
North Ayrshire Council6.41%
Glasgow City Council5.59%
South Ayrshire Council5.51%
South Lanarkshire Council4.75%
Inverclyde Council4.50%
Aberdeenshire Council3.98%
Clackmannanshire Council3.18%
East Lothian Council2.37%
Dundee City Council1.88%
West Dunbartonshire Council1.77%
Aberdeen City Council1.66%
Fife Council1.28%
Highland Council1.26%
Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar 0.90%
Perth and Kinross Council0.58%
Edinburgh City Council0.33%
Grand Total100.00%

Wales regional allocation descending

RecipientAllocation
Torfaen County Borough Council8.24%
Carmarthenshire County Council6.29%
Pembrokeshire County Council6.24%
Denbighshire County Council6.17%
Ceredigion County Council6.04%
Newport City Council5.98%
Isle of Anglesey County Council5.81%
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council5.78%
Powys County Council5.72%
Swansea Council5.69%
Gwynedd Council5.68%
Neath Port Talbot Council5.15%
Conwy County Borough Council4.90%
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council4.72%
Monmouthshire County Council4.36%
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council4.21%
Caerphilly County Borough Council2.83%
Vale of Glamorgan Council2.27%
Cardiff Council1.79%
Bridgend County Borough Council1.68%
Wrexham County Borough Council0.47%
Grand Total100.00%
 

Northern Ireland allocation descending

RecipientAllocation
TieTa Uk Ltd14.74%
Ulster University8.72%
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council5.56%
Queen’s University Belfast 5.01%
Bryson Care4.56%
Leonard Cheshire4.19%
Active Communities Network4.15%
Mid & East Antrim Borough Council4.14%
Kilcooley Women’s Centre4.13%
NOW Group4.04%
The National Trust3.91%
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful3.86%
Groundwork Northern Ireland3.83%
South West College3.71%
Women’s Resource & Development Agency3.02%
Extern Northern Ireland2.73%
Business in the Community Northern Ireland 2.67%
Youth Action Northern Ireland 2.53%
Springvale Training Limited2.52%
Kinship Care2.11%
Derry City and Strabane District Council1.95%
NIACRO1.90%
Lough Neagh Partnership Ltd1.70%
Network Personnel Ltd1.56%
Belfast City Council0.98%
RNIB NI0.74%
Specialisterne NI CIC0.59%
George Best Belfast City Airport0.48%
Grand Total100.00%

A case study on pitching

Insights how a pitch trainer does his pitch for a corporate fintech challenge

When teaching how to do pitching it is important also to be an active pitcher yourself. It is not possible to be a trainer on how to pitch if you don’t do that yourselves. Here is a story of how a subsidiary company of Edale pitched its technology solution to a Stock Exchange in the United Arab Emirates.

Background

There is an old adage that you should never stop pitching and always be closing. Big business has embraced innovation and as part of that you often find a route to market or new clients is through pitching competitions. This is how we did it for one market we are looking to enter with our financial technology solution, bondsmart.

Introduction to bondsmart

Bondsmart is a micro investing platform allows smaller investor to actually be involved in lending to big business. They get access to a secure investment and a better return without the volatility of equities, opaqueness of alternative finance and illiquidity of property. This is democratisation of wholesale debt markets.

The challenge

In July 2021 Abu Dhabi stock exchange along with financial regulator in the UAE launch a competition to find a solution that would help with investor education and financial inclusion for retail investors. On smart saw this competition and went about building its pitch deck and story to develop a suitable solution for Abu Dhabi exchange, ADX.

Bondsmart is a fully operating investment platform but part of the technology included an investor centre where we had built very simple and intuitive user interface to provide details on investments this investment centre would be an ideal solution the ADX challenge. however as it’s only part of our business we needed to suitably package this and also answered the challenge statement and problem that the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange was seeking to solve.

Any pitch usually has core elements in the way that it should be delivered. Those are an:

  1. attention grabbing opener
  2. the problem
  3. the solution
  4. the traction a solution has got and
  5. how the application of that solution to the problem can lead to an outcome for the listener.

Developing the pitch

When starting to build our pitch we went and actually looked at the keywords that were in the call to pitch document. This allowed us to get a clear focus on some of the words and actually phrases that we needed address. Secondly we then went and actually looked at the existing solutions that are available for retail customers and financial education resourecs. We then actually took some screengrabs of their current solutions and use this to actually show the current problem the investors were experiencing when trying to get access to retail friendly investment information.

The Investor Centre engine of bondsmart had been through a lot of research and design to make it intuitive and answer the simplest of questions for investors which is “what would be my return” and “what time period am I investing for”. any additional information had to be simply and visually presented. The human brain read visuals far better than text so we design our solutions to have 50% of the presentation of data in a visual manner.

Combining our simple solutions with the shortcomings of the existing solutions and how they didn’t answer the problem statement allowed us to come up with three slides that pitched to the problem, presented a solution and how it addressed the problem. We focused very little on the product solution. It was about showcasing the problem and effectiveness in addressing it.

The real challenge was then to stitch that together in a short succinct and impacting story. Our full pitch would only have 5 minutes to present the case and it was critical to be able to do that in time and on point. We have a general rule of 1 slide per minute. This is an overestimation of how long you will talk to one slide but it is useful as a rule of firm to ensure an effective design of a pitch deck.

Editing and building this story was actually the time consuming exercise for this pitch deck. We had the materials, we had the knowledge on what the existing solutions were it was stitching it together and doing that in a style that hit the point and actually told it in a rememberable way. Building a few nuggets and sound bites that would really help us to ensure that this solution was pitched in the right way and actually stood above the crowd.

Result

Bond smart successfully pitched and made it onto a shortlist with three other companies that presented in alive pitch-off event via zoom. The judges then made a decision which business to take forward to do a POC (Proof Of Concept agreement)and whilst bondsmart was not the winning pitch we did actually get some positive feedback and a demonstration that our solution had a market.

The good thing with this competition was that we made contacts that we previously did not know and we have further been able to have conversations with those contacts to actually consider whether our solution could be a commercial solution that the business would like to use within their existing technology.

The lesson here is being unsuccessful in pitching does not close down opportunities it actually opens those up and we use them to develop the business. Whilst is not the heart of what the business is designed to do it potentially helps us a client that in using part of our solution gets us a step further into the market and importantly commercialises our solution having a anchor client with a large corporate profile. A pitching competition was a form of business development and market testing. We get real world feedback from people that are involved in our sector.

We see pitching as a great way to get your business known in the market and broadcast your story. It can also be a route to market though it’s knowing where these competitions are and actually being aware of them. However, getting a good pitch takes work and is not a brief exercise but with experience the process does become speeded up.

Advancing your business through Technology Readiness Levels and associated Investment Readiness Levels

We are fans of the lean development framework and tools like the Business Model Canvas. When we help with mentoring 1:1 we use the investment readiness level to gauge where a company is on the scale.

Investment readiness as a continuum, so we can help individuals wherever they are on the spectrum and give actionable advice to help them move on. investment readeinss on this scale has a parallel to the firms Technology Readeinsss Level. The Investment Readiness Level framework is a diagnostic tool to define their customer development process. The Investment Readiness Level provides a clear signpost to where someone is. In additional as a diagnostic tool it can be prescriptive too with regard to the stage of support needed and what the next step for the company should be. Therefore no matter where a firm is in its stage of development, the immediate next milestone – where the entrepreneurs should focus their attention next – is the next level.

History of the Technology Readiness Level

The Technology readiness levels (TRLs) is a method for estimating the maturity of a technology during its development phase. Projects are evaluated against the parameters for each technology level and given a TRL rating based on the progress of the project. NASA developed Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) in the early 1970s as a means of assessing whether emerging technology was suitable for space exploration. Nasa explanation of TRL is clear.

There are nine technology readiness levels. TRL 1 is the lowest and TRL 9 is the highest.

When a technology is at TRL 1, scientific research is beginning and those results are being translated into future research and development. TRL 2 occurs once the basic principles have been studied and practical applications can be applied to those initial findings. TRL 2 technology is very speculative, as there is little to no experimental proof of concept for the technology.

When active research and design begin, a technology is elevated to TRL 3. Generally both analytical and laboratory studies are required at this level to see if a technology is viable and ready to proceed further through the development process. Often during TRL 3, a proof-of-concept model is constructed.

Once the proof-of-concept technology is ready, the technology advances to TRL 4. During TRL 4, multiple component pieces are tested with one another. TRL 5 is a continuation of TRL 4, however, a technology that is at 5 is identified as a breadboard technology and must undergo more rigorous testing than technology that is only at TRL 4. Simulations should be run in environments that are as close to realistic as possible. Once the testing of TRL 5 is complete, a technology may advance to TRL 6. A TRL 6 technology has a fully functional prototype or representational model.

TRL 7 technology requires that the working model or prototype be demonstrated in a space environment. TRL 8 technology has been tested and “flight qualified” and it’s ready for implementation into an already existing technology or technology system. Once a technology has been “flight proven” during a successful mission, it can be called TRL 9.

Putting funding into a progress framework

Businesses do not fail because they run out of enthusiasm or energy. They fail because they run out of cash, so funding is central to a firm’s life. So to have cash in a firm it needs to have cash-generative skills from sales or inflows from other sources which require that a company is funding-ready. For early-stage or smaller companies, their stage of progress can directly reflect their ability to access funding and investment. Steve Black developed the Investment Readiness framework to be to startups what TRL is to NASA. Below are the investment readiness levels; the higher the number, the more progressed the company has made and more attractive for investment.

Selep IRL

Free marketing advice (funded by the Council) for Worcestershire businesses

With a reopening of the economy its time to review your marketing messages, brand dress, coms and campaigns. For Worcestershire businesses, the Here2Help scheme can give you a kickstart and get your geed up. Book your clinic below.

This hour clinic can help you with any of the following topics:

  • Branding and identity
  • Visual Marketing and Social Media:
    • Claim your identity online.
    • Create (refresh) brand assets.
    • Make a social media plan.
    • Sharpen your messaging.
    • Know your audience and target suitably.
  • Maximising website oomph:
    • Campaigns to get you traffic and eyeballs.
    • Keywords and trends.
    • Search engines optimised.
    • Manage Google My Business profile (largest search database where sometimes people do not leave google page).
  • Advertising and campaigns success:
    • Understand Facebook advertising and Google AdWords.
    • Low-cost ways to promote your business to attract new clients.
    • Kick start campaigns
  • Powering your Email Marketing.
    • Messages to keep customers returning.
    • Informing and enticing.

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Seven 6 second statements on budget detail smaller companies need to know

Information you need to know from the UK budget 2021.

So seven 6 second statements on relevant budget details for smaller companies:

  1. CBILS ends 31 March replaced by Recovery Loan Scheme available to end of 2021. Upto 6 year duration for loans and 3 years for overdrafts and invoice finance. Government guarantee of 80 per cent. Opens on 6 April.
  2. Furlough and self-employed support extended until September.
  3. Restart grants for shops forced to close. £6,000 per premises for closed non-essential outlets. £18,000 for hospitality and leisure businesses.
  4. “Help to grow” scheme with 50% vouchers off digital productivity tools + 90% funded management programme. https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/
  5. Green Bonds and UK Infrastructure Bank opening in spring helping green economy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policy-design-of-the-uk-infrastructure-bank
  6. Self-employed have a further grant. 80% trading profits February to April, max £7500. Fifth grant May to September (80% where 30% fall in sales otherwise 30%). People that filed tax returns for 2019-20 by 2 Mar are now eligible (extra £600k people).
  7. Corporation tax increases from 2023 to 25% where profits £250k. remain 19% where <£50000 profit. Taper corporation tax from £50k to £250k, there above the rate is 25% tax on profits.

Self-employed financial adviser opportunities

Are you a self-employed adviser (ifa) feeling stuck in a rut and want to grow within a dynamic business? Or a qualified overseas adviser seeking premier regulated home for clients?

Join Edale UK and expat financial and investment advisory business.

Edale is providing self-employed advisers the opportunity to join their directly FCA, whole of market firm to cover anywhere in the UK as a digital and flexible investment adviser. We also have a broad range of services and clients from top to toe in the UK and across the world.

We can offer flexible working, primary focus on spend timing with clients, little bureaucracy and generous fee share. Also opportunities to expand into new professions (if you want) – business support and business advising. We have backed new companies that are now standalone enterprises. We are a growing professional service firm.

If you would like to know more, please contact us with contact details, and someone will be in touch.

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Focusing on action and outcomes with TOWS

When looking at a SWOT analysis and seeking to use the insights to make an action plan there is not much help. TOWS, a variant of SWOAT, allows you to prioritise actions on those areas that provide the greatest strength and also tackle the weakest areas. This grasping maximum and tackling minimums is something we like in TOWS. It doesnt give the answers but it focuses attention on the areas where action is required and gives some indication of the nature of that action.

The matrix

The TOWS matrix looks like below. The outer areas are the traditional SWOT analysis. The strategies are the meeting boxes in the middle. The two main areas of priority are reaping maximums and tackling minimums. TOWS is about taking advantage of opportunities, reducing threats, overcoming weaknesses, and exploiting any strengths.

Grasping maximums

Taking hold of the best strategic options that an organisation could pursue to develop is known as developing ‘maxi-maxi’ strategies. The plan made in this area builds on internal strengths and external opportunities (SO).

Tackling minimums

Facing the vulnerability that threatens an organisation is known as developing ‘mini-mini’ strategies. The aim is to facilitate strategies that face weaknesses as well as minimise and avoid threats (WT).

Reasons to move from an international adviser and avoid a DIY approach to financial repatriation to the UK

We always recommend getting advice with big financial decisions. The same is true for returning to the UK. A UK specialist who understand the nuances of the UK financial system and tax implications is important and something an international adviser may not be familiar. A “Do it yourself” approach is unwise and risky.

A modern day car is a complicated piece of machinery so people do not service a car themselves. Also you would not get a mechanic in a different country to ensure compliance in your new country. A specialist to look after your car is true for your finances too.

Reasons to choose a UK adviser with experience of international clients:

  1. Overseas advisers should not advise UK residents unless they are UK regulated.
  2. Advice on UK and international investments, tax accounts, pensions and QROPS.
  3. Options for restructuring assets for tax efficiency.

Overseas advisers should not advise UK residents unless they are regulated

Typically, an offshore adviser cannot advise on onshore investments or onshore clients. When Brexit completes the UK financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, will regain regulatory sovereignty and the ability of overseas firms to passport, allowed under the single market in the EU, will end in its current form. The new arrangement for EU advisers to passport into the UK remains unknown but it’s unlikely to be as flexible as the current arrangements. Advisers outside the UK get no recognition or authority to advise UK retail clients unless they are part of a UK regulated firm, meaning the client misses on lots of protections and insurances. An offshore adviser should partner with a UK firm or the clients should transfer to a UK based adviser on planning, landing or having arrived in the UK.

Advice on UK and international investments, tax accounts, pensions and QROPS

Few advisers have the capability to advise on both UK and international accounts and products so this encourages use of Edale – we have experience of UK and international products. You may have opened a range of investments which are specifically available to non-UK residents. These may have tax advantages when not subject to UK tax rules but things can change when back in the UK and you need a local adviser to assist you. You need personal advice to consider what you arrive with and effective plans for going forward.

It can be possible to maintain offshore and non-UK investments when back in the UK. There could be large tax implications of any gains or income you receive. For example, offshore portfolio bonds should be endorsed to avoid receiving deemed gains on life assurance and capital redemption policies. Deemed gain assumes a gain of 15% of the premium and the cumulative gains for each year the policy has been in force. Further, most offshore regular savings plans are ‘foreign policies of life insurance and foreign capital redemption policies’ so taxed at your income tax rate, however, there are ways to reduce the amount payable with reliefs and financial planning. If you have been resident in the UK with one of these policies we can confidentially provide guidance. We have a longer article on Taxation of offshore life policies on return to UK.

Overseas pensions or UK pensions transferred abroad (QROPS) need to be considered. If you receive a gratuity finance payment, which is common in Middle East jobs, on leaving that job the money can get some tax reliefs if paid into a pension in the UK. If you have a QROPS and return to the UK you do not need to transfer this back to a UK Scheme (this is a frequent misconception). Any income received from a QROPS will be subject to the tax rules at source as well as the tax rules in the UK (once you become a UK tax-resident). It is important to ensure a tax-treaty between the UK and QROPS home country exists to avoid being excessively taxed in both countries. Malta is a frequent home for QROPS plans and no tax is paid on income from a QROPS in Malta. If you are still working and plan to continue paying into a pension, then a QROPS would not usually allow you to make payments from the UK. The costs of having two schemes (QROPS overseas and UK scheme) may be unwise and advice on consolidation may be worthwhile.

Options for restructuring assets for tax efficiency

The impact of your repatriation on investments could be significant. Tax advantages enjoyed working abroad could be lost or penalised when back in the UK. Speak to a UK, FCA regulated financial advisor before repatriation to learn alternative options available, which may offer opportunities for growth or income.

The implication of early-exit fees and back end loads that can be in a product but you are unaware until you try to leave should encourage you to seek advice so you can consider options and alternatives. Any good UK advisor will clarify any fees you may be stung by on any investments you established while overseas.

Selling or realising investments and then returning in the same tax year can result in tax charges, for example, capital gains tax in the UK. If repatriating is not part of your original investment decision-making process or plans then you need to consider whether previous plans are now fit for purpose and fitting to the “new normal”.

The nuances of the financial and tax implications of repatriating to the UK means any international advisor or client should insist on independent advice from a specialist in the UK.

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UK Treasury funds for innovator firms

Coronavirus support targeted at innovative business structures of the tech sector has been announced today. Existing coronavirus support for businesses required companies to be profitable as of December 2019 to qualify for help so these new announcements make available funding for innovators. Last updated 20/4/2020.

There are two main pots of funding:

  • £750 million of loans and grants for innovative businesses available via Innovate UK;
  • £250 million investment fund for high-growth companies to match private sector investment via British Business Bank

R&D Innovators

The research and development will support 2,500 already supported by Innovate UK and 1,200 companies not currently supported will also be offered cash. Start-ups and businesses driving research and development will be able to access funding. Each company must pass an “innovation assessment” and no details about this are available currently.

Historically, the “innovation assessment” has been proposals scoring above a quality threshold (typically scoring over 70%) where 5 assessors score the level of innovation. The Innovation Assessment (Project) is based on 10 dimensions

A1: Need or Challenge
A2: Approach and innovation
A3: Project team and resources
A4: Market awareness
A5: Outcomes and route to market
A6: Wider impacts
A7: Project management
A8: Project risks
A9: Additionality
A10: Costs and value for money
Other funding from public sector sources
Project finance summary

 

Future Fund matched investing

Convertible loans from the “Future Fund” will be open to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the Coronavirus.

The Future Fund launches in May 2020 and will be a co-investment fund.

Eligibility:

  • Unlisted UK registered company;
  • Raised >£250,000 in aggregate from private third party investors 5 years; and
  • Substantive economic presence in the UK.

Terms:

  • The Government loan shall constitute no more than 50% of the loan round;
  • The Government loan minimum £125,000 and maximum £5,000,000.
  • Use of funds for working capital only;
  • Automatically convert into equity on  next qualifying funding round at a minimum conversion discount of 20%;
  • A minimum of 8% per annum (non-compounding) interest to be paid on maturity of the loan; and
  • Mature after a maximum of 36 months.

NB: These terms are subject to change.

Companies interested in the Future Fund should engage their existing network of private investors to understand if they would be willing to match financing the Future Fund.

We shall update this page as we learn more.