Manufacturing investment fund British Design Fund backs 3 start-ups

Young Gun-founded headphone innovators Kokoon Technology, fashion footwear brand Calla Shoes, and KTech Manufacturing all received funding

The British Design Fund, an early stage investment fund for UK start-ups in the product design and manufacturing space, has backed three businesses in its latest wave of funding.

The fund, which raised more than £500,ooo from around 140 investors, 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 footwear for women who suffer from bunions, founded by Jennifer Bailey.
  • Kokoon Technology: Named in our Startups 100 for 2017, with both co-founders also named in the Young Gun class of 2016Kokoon creates noise-cancelling headphones that help users achieve a better night's sleep. 
  • 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.

Launched in late 2017, The British Design Fund was created by Young Gun and founder of Spinning Hat, Damon Bonser and the ex-CEO of the Design Council, John Mathers.

Five companies will receive investment from the fund, with plans for a second, larger fund, to launch later this year.

The fund previously invested in Rockit, a portable rocking device for pushchairs and strollers, back in October 2017.

Bonser 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.

“The UK fosters so much amazing design talent and creates many of the world’s greatest 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 said:

“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 in launching The Fund.”