The British Robotics Seed Fund will be managed by High Growth Robotics and Sapphire Capital Partners to support up to 12 companies a year with early stage investments. The fund will see backing of a ‘few hundred thousand’ pounds for UK developers of software and components for robotics and autonomous systems in construction, logistics, agriculture and domestic robots.
Unlike the US, there are currently no specialist UK investment vehicles to provide financial backing and strategic support for early stage robotics companies, says Dominic Keen, CEO of High Growth Robotics, which already backs a number of UK robotics startups.
“I genuinely believe that some of the world’s finest robotics businesses are currently being established in the UK and the British Robotics Seed Fund is ideally positioned to ensure that these companies are able to maximise their future success,” said Keen (above). “It’s a relatively broad definition of robotics – any system with physical, manipulation or sensing. A lot of the systems will have a heavy element of artificial intelligence (AI) to them but rather than virtual AI we are looking at the end use.”
According to market intelligence firm Tractica, robotics is set to grow at rates in excess of 45% with the global market to approach a quarter of trillion dollars by 2021.
The fund is looking to raise around £5m from investors with a minimum of £10,000 to invest under the tax efficient Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). “Robotics represents one of today’s most exciting investment themes and investors now have the opportunity to enhance their portfolio with a mixed basket of exciting early-stage robotics businesses whilst also befitting from the significant tax advantages of SEIS,” said Boyd Carson, CEO of Sapphire Capital Partners.