(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. has taken stakes in more than 150 high-growth companies, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will say on Tuesday, as he hosts a meeting of investors and tech companies in order to spur the sector onward.
The stakes are a result of the government investing more than 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) in nearly 1,200 companies via its Future Fund, the Treasury said in a statement Tuesday. The program, launched in May 2020, uses convertible state loans to attract private investment and help tech companies grow. Some of those loans have now been converted into stakes, it said.
“Investing in these companies has the potential to accelerate innovations that will transform U.K. industry, develop new medicines and strengthen our position as a science superpower,” Sunak said in the statement, ahead of a half-day conference bringing together investors and tech companies.
The disclosure illustrates a change in tack by the ruling Conservative Party, which is traditionally averse to state intervention in private companies. The taxpayer now holds stakes in companies including Vaccitech Plc, which co-invented the Covid-19 vaccine with Oxford University that’s now being supplied by AstraZeneca Plc to 170 countries, and in Century Tech, which uses artificial intelligence to tailor learning for children, the Treasury said.
Under the Future Fund program, loans ranging from 125,000 pounds to 5 million pounds were made to U.K.-based startups, subject to them securing at least an equal amount of funding from private investors.
Other companies in which the government now holds stakes include Cipher Surgical Ltd, which makes products that assist in keyhole surgery, and Ripple Energy, which allows customers to own shares in a wind farm.
Investment in U.K. tech companies totaled 11.2 billion pounds last year, a record that came in spite of the pandemic, according to the Treasury. Tuesday’s meeting will include chief executive officers of investors and tech firms including Funding Circle and Monzo, with Sunak leading four sessions on access to finance, fintech, talent and life sciences, the Treasury said.
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