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British taxpayers get stake in AI checkout firm & whisky distillery as it backs 53 new companies

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British taxpayers have become shareholders in a further 53 companies backed by a government rescue funding scheme.

These firms include a company that makes carbon negative period products, a firm producing meat cultivated directly from cells without the use of animals, and a “holistic” whisky distiller.

The British Business Bank’s Future Fund was set up by Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor. It was established during the height of the Covid pandemic to support startups and innovative firms through the crisis, and has given 1,190 companies funding worth £1.14bn in total.

About half of those firms have now had those loans converted to equity after they raised third-party funding that at least matched that from the government. This means taxpayers now have equity stakes in 515 companies, an increase of 53 companies in the fourth quarter.

The latest data reveals stakes in companies including Sanitary Owl Ltd, a certified B Corp that makes toxin-free carbon negative period products under the brand Dame, and Roslin Technologies, an Edinburgh-based firm that produces meat produced directly from cells without the use of animals.

Also on the list is The Lakes Distillery, who practise holistic whisky making, and Cred Investments, which helps professional footballers accelerate their savings and investments.

Taxpayers also have a share in Sheep Included, a London-based clothing brand that makes carbon-negative knitwear, and Beckley Psytech, which develops psychedelic medicines for patients with psychiatric disorders.

Other companies that taxpayers now have a slice of include Edgify, which has developed AI technology for self-checkouts, Methera Global, which provides superfast broadband using satellites, and Solar Options for Schools, which helps make schools more sustainable by installing solar panels.

Previous data releases have revealed taxpayers have stakes in companies ranging from the sex-party planning firm Killing Kittens, and a medical cannabis farm, to a yoghurt-bar business.

The latest list also shows that 83 firms that received convertible loans from the Future Fund have gone into administration or are now insolvent.

Ken Cooper, managing director of Venture Solutions at British Business Bank, said: “The Future Fund was created to ensure a flow of capital, at the height of the pandemic, to companies that would otherwise have been unable to access government support schemes, while ensuring long-term value for the UK taxpayer.

“We are pleased to see so many of those companies now going on to raise further private sector capital, which will allow the Future Fund to benefit from their continued growth.”

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