Mubadala head urges UK government to give more support to early stage tech companies

The managing director and group chief executive of UAE investment fund Mubadala has told a UK investment conference that the British government ought to be putting more backing behind early stage tech companies to attract more investors.

“We’ve done very well,” Khaldoon Al Mubarak told the Global Investment Summit (GIS) in London.

“It [technology] has been an area which I think will continue to prosper as long as the UK government continues to support, really focus on and really address from the early stages to scaling up.

“That’s an area where support is needed and if the UK government focuses on that area, it’ll help investors to be part of that chain – not just from early venture, but all the way to growth and then hopefully to the mature technology level.”

The purpose of the GIS, which was held at Hampton Court Palace in south-west London on Monday, was to raise the levels of foreign direct investment in the UK.

Sharing a platform with UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Mr Mubarak said over the past five years, Mubadala has been “focusing really on sectors that the UK has immense strength in”, which were clean tech, high-tech, life sciences and digital infrastructure.

He said the energy transition had been a “been a great platform” for the fund.

“I would say today we are probably one the largest investors of wind generation in the UK. The regulatory environment is excellent, the returns have been good and the tariff structure has been conducive to investment,” he explained.

“That’s allowed us over the years to start investing here [in the UK] and start to build up and scale up in terms of our portfolio when it comes to the energy transition space.

“That’s an area I hope will grow and continuing to invest in.”

mubadala head urges uk government to give more support to early stage tech companies

Photo of Teesside Wind Farm. British companies involved in the energy transition have received much attention from UAE investors. Photo: Owen Humphreys

‘People like to come to London’

Mr Hunt noted that the sovereign investment partnership relationship between the UAE and Britain has “led to £12 billion of investment in two years or so”.

The UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership was initially set up with a £1 billion joint investment in life sciences. In 2021 the investment cycle was expanded, including joint investments in energy transition, technology and infrastructure.

All four sectors were identified by the UK and UAE as priority areas for future growth. Speaking at the time of the agreement, Mr Al Mubarak said that the investments were “high impact with high return”.

Also on the same panel on Monday, Yasir Al Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said that investment in the UK was attractive for many reasons, including the accessibility of the capital markets, but a simpler reason was that “people like to come to London”.

“We already invested in many companies like Aston Martin, McLaren and Newcastle United football club, which is one of the smallest investment, but one of the biggest impacts,” he said.

“You have so many great companies, technologies and people.”

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