Woodford says UK ‘appallingly bad’ at start-up funding

Woodford-Neil-2014-alternative 700 x450.jpgInvestors are failing UK tech companies by not providing them the capital they need to grow into leading global companies, star fund manager Neil Woodford has warned.

“We have been appallingly bad at giving those minnows the long-term capital they need,” Woodford told the BBC.

“We have four of the top 10 universities in the world, 29 of the top 200. We do science and research really, really well in the UK and we’re generating lots of little companies.”

He argues UK investors are too short-term and do not have the scale to support small technology firms.

Earlier this year Woodford warned investors were failing to exploit the UK’s top-class scientific sector and commercialise developments in the countries universities.

Woodford owns more than 20 per cent in technology and science investor Imperial Innovations, which works with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and University College London on the commercialisation of academic research.

Hussein Kanji, co-founder of Hoxton Ventures, also tells BBC: “It would still be hard for something like an Uber to be born out of the UK because I don’t think there’s a financing community that would give Uber the billions of dollars that it has consumed to get to global stage.”

Woodford is currently in talks with the government to back a £250m fund to support early-stage tech ventures outside London. The fund will invest between £5m and £10m in eligible firms.

Earlier this year, star fund manager James Anderson, who manages the £4bn Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, also said Britain does not compete with Silicon Valley when it comes to recruiting top talent and says “it has been a long time since you had a great British company”.

He said:“The problem with British companies is London. There people spend money, they don’t make investments. London has become an investment bank, it is dire.”