Agency backs tech scheme despite post-float wobbles


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The Independent Online

Tech City UK, the Government-backed agency which promotes the British technology industry, has defended its flagship business-booster programme, despite the  poor record of companies  in the scheme that have  gone public.

The Future Fifty scheme was set up by Tech City UK last year to help fast-growing, mid-sized technology businesses continue to expand.

It promises a “concierge” service, offering advice on things like fundraising and public listing.

Today, Tech City revealed that the businesses in the inaugural Future Fifty programme have grown revenue by an average of 60 per cent over the last year and 13 of them have attracted a combined £260m in funding. 

But some companies involved have had mixed fortunes. All four of the Future Fifty businesses that listed in the last year have struggled – online white-goods retailer AO World’s shares have fallen by 55 per cent since listing; takeaway app Just Eat dropped 30 per cent in its first few weeks and is now flat; property portal Zoopla stands 9 per cent below its listing price; and biotech specialist Horizon Discovery is 28 per cent under its first-day price. 

Future Fifty director Philipp Stoeckl said he could not comment on the individual companies, but said: “Some of the underlying performance has to do with macroeconomic dynamics. The companies make their own decision whether to go public or not.  We provide them with as much information as possible to help them decide what to do next.”

Critics have also charged that Future Fifty adds little value, but Mr Stoeckl said: “Everything that we do on this programme is driven by the needs of the cohort.

He added: “What each company gets out of the programme is entirely up to them. It completely differs.”

Other businesses involved in the scheme have run into difficulty – taxi hailing app Hailo said earlier this month it was pulling out of the US amid “astronomical” costs and Moshi Monsters creator Mind Candy has admitted it has found the transition from desktop to mobile “challenging”.