BBB pumps £30m into early-stage venture fund

The British Business Bank has invested £30m into a new early-stage venture fund as it looks to fill a funding gap for small firms amid a major investment slowdown this year. The state-backed development bank said it had provided the cornerstone investment for a new £50m pre-seed fund, launched by Concept Ventures, targeting early-stage pre-seed firms. Managing Director of Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank Ken Cooper said the bank's Enterprise Capital Funds were helping lower the “barriers to entry for emerging fund managers” and those “targeting under-served areas of the market”. Concept Ventures is currently courting other investors to the fund and said it was oversubscribed.

The Times, City A.M.
Supply disruption and Brexit stalls growth in exports

A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce has found the proportion of UK companies reporting a rise in their exports has remained flat at 29% for the fifth consecutive quarter. A quarter of exporters recorded a fall in sales in the second quarter while 46% saw no change compared with the start of the year. Manufacturers trading overseas are the worst affected, with only 39% expecting a rise in profits in the next year compared with 48% of service sector exporters. Companies trading within the UK saw more positive results, with 40% having a rise in sales in the period. William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said supply chain disruption, soaring prices, and the impact of Brexit red tape were having a chilling effect on exports. “Recent ONS figures have shown an increase in exports to the EU, driven in part by shortages caused by the war in Ukraine,” he said. “But our data shows there are serious underlying issues - which are hitting smaller manufacturing exporters the hardest.”

The Times
MPs call for menopause to be protected characteristic

MPs on the cross-party women and equalities committee have called for menopause to be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. They are also urging ministers to appoint a special ambassador to keep women in the workplace after a report showed a lack of support for menopausal symptoms is pushing “highly skilled and experienced” women out of work. The women and equalities committee chair, Caroline Nokes MP, said: “Menopausal women have been mocked and maligned for too long. It is time that the government seizes the opportunity to enact change. It is time to support, and celebrate, these women.”

The Guardian
Leak shows Sunak was preparing closer ties with China

A leaked Treasury document indicates that former Chancellor Rishi Sunak was close to signing a new economic agreement with China following months of talks between the two nations. The *Times* suggests the document shows Mr Sunak and his counterpart had already had talks covering policy outcomes covering more than 20 areas including closer ties on banking, asset management, regulation and travel. The paper says the leaked draft agreement demonstrates a contradiction with Mr Sunak’s claims of being a China hawk, but his team argue that he cancelled a meeting with the Chinese scheduled for later this year because of the threat China poses to our national security.

The Times