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British Design Fund announces first wave of funding recipients

Date: Jan 05 2018
British Design Fund announces first wave of funding recipients

A fashion footwear brand, a headphone innovator and an electrical wiring innovator are the first recipients of business-changing funding from the British Design Fund, an early stage investment fund for UK start-ups in the product design and manufacturing space.

The fund, which along with Seedrs, raised more than £500K from around 140 investors in its first wave of funding, received applications from more than 100 companies looking for cash as well as mentoring and support to accelerate the growth of their businesses.

The recipients to receive funding from the first round of investments are:

  • Calla Shoes, a new brand of stylish footwear for women who suffer from bunions, founded by Jennifer Bailey.
  • Kokoon Technology, creators of the world’s first intelligent headphone and app that adapts to your sleep patterns by measuring brain activity through EEG sensors to help you relax and switch off.
  • KTech Manufacturing, manufacturers of the mBox – a tool that makes wiring the connections to heating systems such as boilers in the home faster and safer via a simple method of securing electrical wires with clamps rather than screw terminals.

The British Design Fund launched in late 2017 and has had more than 100 companies registering to apply for funding.  The first fund will see five companies receive investment, but there are plans for a second, larger fund, to launch in 2018.

Bonser, of Twenty20 Mentoring said: “Innovative small businesses like Calla Shoes, Kokoon and KTech represent the best of British business, creating exceptional new design-led products that deliver genuine value to their users. We’re delighted to be supporting their development and growth.”

He added: “The UK fosters so much amazing design talent and creates many of the world’s leading product design leaders, yet there is an unbelievable lack of funding into early stage, well designed, product businesses. Most product start-ups rely on innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground – if they’re lucky. The British Design Fund aims to fill that gap and help entrepreneurs significantly increase their chance of success by providing capital as well as expertise, in what’s become a highly competitive sector.”

Mathers added: “During my role as CEO at the Design Council, I saw just how fast the UK’s design sector is growing. Across the UK there are fantastic product start-ups looking to improve people’s lives, but so many of them are left without the necessary support or funding. With almost £72bn generated in 2015 alone from the design sector, it makes no sense why early stage funding is so low for this market. That’s what inspired me to help address this problem and join Damon.”

Shoe brand Calla already turns over £100K and will use the funding to a strategic marketing with the aim of tripling revenue within a year and hit the £1m mark within three years. Calla founder Jennifer Bailey will also use to build global sourcing partnerships for the shoe range.

Bailey said: ‘I was acutely aware that Calla needed third party investment to accelerate growth. This has been a long time coming and means the business can grow exponentially quickly, adapting to and meeting the huge demand we have from customers in the UK and abroad, and adding to our range to ensure Calla Shoes remains at the forefront of footwear fashion.”


For more information, contact:

Damon Bonser – damon@britishdesignfund.co.uk078999 66444

John Mathers – john@britishdesignfund.co.uk

Bhavna Mistry – bhavna@velvetpr.biz – 0208 996 1802


About the British Design Fund

The British Design Fund is an early stage investment fund that specifically invests in, and provides support for, early stage UK product design and manufacturing companies.

The Fund seeks to work with extraordinary entrepreneurs who have scalable products and who are ready to accelerate growth into the retail space and build long term value and thriving, stand-out businesses.

The Fund is driven by a team with strong retail, product and investment experience and is managed by Sapphire Capital Partners LLP and is assisted by Twenty20 Mentoring Ltd.