In August 2017, Cambridge Innovation Capital plc responded to HM Treasury's consultation on 'Financing Growth in Innovative Firms', which forms part of the Government's Patient Capital Review.

Commenting on the consultation, Victor Christou, CEO said: “We welcome the consultation on ‘Financing Growth in Innovative Firms’ which has been well researched and is full of robust data. The review addresses an important subject for the long-term prosperity of the UK.

“While CIC has successfully raised £125 million to date from a range of supportive, long-term investors, there is still plenty of capacity for further capital to fund the excellent ideas that we continue to see within the Cambridge Cluster. Though CIC focuses on the area around Cambridge, we believe that a similar imbalance between supply and demand for patient scale up capital exists elsewhere in the country. The businesses that we, and others like us, support have the potential to be the future industrial powerhouses of the UK if encouraged to grow and mature properly.”

Our response highlighted a number of points:

  • Sources of seed capital have increased in recent years and are now relatively numerous. However, at scale up stage there is still a lack of long-term finance available.
  • Building substantial entrepreneurial based companies requires patience and each business will take its own time to reach maturity.  Technology businesses which grow to a billion-dollar valuation in the UK have, on average, taken over eight years to reach that value, with therapeutic based bioscience companies taking even longer. Any investment incentive schemes contemplated by HM Treasury should take account of this timescale.
  • Resources should be focused on innovation hubs, such as Cambridge, where world-class innovation already exists and there is the highest potential to create value for the whole of the UK by building sustainable, mature businesses.
  • UK pension and insurance funds have not, to date, been substantive supporters of patient capital and this represents a ‘gap’ in their investment allocation.  Regulatory guidance or other incentives could be used to encourage allocate a portion of these funds to this asset class.

We will remain vigilant to all news around the Patient Capital Review whilst awaiting the conclusions of the report. We anticipate that the review’s conclusions will build on current best practices, further affirming the UK as a place for growing innovative firms using the long-term ‘patient’ finance that is required to scale-up companies efficiently.