Start-ups to be protected from coronavirus storm by £1.25bn package

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Start-ups across the UK that are helping to drive innovation and developments will be protected by a £1.25bn government support package, the government has announced.

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the funds aim to ensure firms, ranging from tech to life sciences, are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth.

The package includes a new £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development.

Healthtech start-ups in the UK are already working side by side with bigger companies to help provide new services and technology during the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes tracking cases, providing online patients as well as gathering data and analysis.

The number of healthtech companies in the UK has increased by more than 25% since 2015. During 2019 the sector received $2.3bn (£1.87bn) in venture capital backing, almost double that of France, the next highest recipient.

The companies in the sector have a combined turnover of £24 billion and employ more than 127,400 people across 3,860 businesses.

Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for digital, said: “Over the last month the UK’s healthtech sector has shown why it is a global leader, quickly using its expertise to develop practical solutions to help the government and the NHS with innovative products and services to respond to those in need.

“These new technologies will not only help in the here and now but they will also shape the future of healthcare in the UK and indeed across the world. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the startups and tech companies that have switched their entire focus to backing the national effort to tackle this health crisis.”

Specific examples include Facebook producing heat maps of coronavirus spread in real time, helping promote high quality information and Microsoft, Google, Palantir, AWS and Faculty supporting NHSX and NHS England’s technical teams to develop a data platform that provides safe, secure, reliable and timely data.

There has also been the wide-spread roll out of Microsoft Teams across the NHS.

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, added: “Tech can help the country deal with coronavirus. Digital tools are vital, whether they work to collect data or to connect patients with clinical staff. I’m delighted that so many startups and innovative tech businesses have offered their skills, talent and ideas to help us.”

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