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Is the £10m Scottish-European Growth Co-Investment Programme fund still largely unspent?

Last October a Holyrood committee revealed that Scottish Enterprise had invested just £500,000 from a £10m Scottish-European Growth Co-Investment Programme that is supposed to help businesses grow. In fact the economy committee's pre-budget report revealed Scottish Enterprise underspent by a total of £13m in 2017/18.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-46044514 

Is there an update available on this and how was / is the fund supposed to be used?

The main feature of co-investment funds is that such investments must match a private sector investment, from Angels etc. The rationale is that the public sector should not pick winners, but follow the smart money. From the private investor viewpoint, the benefit is that they can make their money go further, and spread risk across more companies, while still ensuring those companies receive adequate capital. In reality, if private investors strongly believe in an investment, they may not wish to dilute their stake. On the other hand, if they do not have confidence in a business plan, they will not invest even if the risk is shared with public investment.

Of course, another key factor is having enough companies coming forward with business plans which are attractive to the private investors. This is often the main challenge in Scotland where companies are, on average, more risk-averse than in the USA, for example. Also, many companies do not wish to see their control diminished by accepting investment, which is a valid choice but can slow growth.

This particular fund is for those seeking larger investments (£2M plus). Unfortunately, there are not as many companies seeking this level of investment as we would like.

So, I would encourage those who think they may benefit from this fund to explore the possibilities, as there is money available. You can get more info on this and other funding options here:

https://www.scottish-enterprise.com/our-organisation/about-us/who-we-work-with/scottish-investment-bank/investing-in-business

 

For those who do not wish to dilute their equity, it may be better to look at loans. If normal commercial loans cannot be secured, then there are a growing number of options available from, or underwritten by, the public sector.

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