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Barclays launches £100m fund for booming UK tech

Bank argues that debt funding is good alternative to investment.

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Barclays has launched a £100m fund for technology businesses in the UK, in a bid to place the residents of Old Street on a similar level to their counterparts in Silicon Valley.

Under the scheme, start-ups across Britain will be able to borrow up to £5m, repayable over three years, in what Barclays is claiming to be a first for the UK.

"This new fund offers a welcome boost to growing UK technology firms, and will provide a catalyst for their development into larger companies," said Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of personal and corporate banking at Barclays.

"We identified a significant gap in the traditional way technology businesses were financed, and with this new drive we will be truly able to support businesses right from their inception, to becoming major global players."

Barclays is promoting the fund as an alternative to the equity financing common in the UK technology sector, which often takes executive power out of the hands of the company’s founders, moving it to the investors.

The launch follows a report from the bank in February that claimed technology firms were forecasting growth this year four times above the expected rise in GDP for the UK overall, as well as even higher revenue increases for 2016.

Charlotte Holloway, head of policy at the industry group TechUK, said: "The UK’s success in supporting start-ups over the last five years has been remarkable but the challenge comes in achieving scale for fast growth tech companies.

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"IP-rich, fast-growth tech firms may struggle to meet traditional debt-funding criteria, so it’s encouraging to see new options, which embrace the potential of these exciting tech companies."

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