400+ employees

500

applications submitted in one day

30 days

to develop and deploy new portal

 
 

British Business Bank helps companies access £1.14 billion worth of COVID-19 loans with Salesforce

Predicting demand for a new service or product can be difficult – especially during a pandemic. When the British Business Bank started taking applications for the government’s Future Fund, it was in for a shock. Within 24 hours, it had received 500 applications for loans that would help innovative UK companies weather the COVID-19 storm.

“Access to working capital is critical when a business is starting up and scaling up. Without the Future Fund, some companies would have not survived the pandemic,” said Keira Shepperson, Director of the Future Fund. “By digitalising and automating the lending process, we were able to respond quickly to help companies not only survive but thrive in uncertain times.”

The Future Fund, which was announced by the UK Chancellor in April 2020, is just one of four COVID-19 loan schemes being managed by the British Business Bank. Since March 2020, the bank has delivered more than £79 billion of essential financial support to more than 1.6 million businesses.

 

Portal cuts funding process from months to days

Managing a sudden influx of applications to the Future Fund was just the start of the challenge for the British Business Bank; it also needed to approve requests in record time. To accelerate the loan process, the bank deployed a dedicated online portal with support from PwC. “Our goal was to make a loan offer to companies within 21 days of their application,” said Shepperson. “It normally takes several months to secure additional funding but companies needed a much faster injection of cash; jobs and research projects were on the line.”

Built on Experience Cloud, the Future Fund portal enabled companies like Momentum Bioscience to access capital when they needed it most. “Our business was at a sensitive stage having just completed a financing round and invested heavily in setting up the pilot study. Had our application to the Future Fund not been successful, it’s highly likely that we’d have had to embark on deeper cost cuts, including making a significant number of redundancies,” commented Sumi Thaker, CEO of the Cardiff-based bioscience diagnostics company. “We submitted our application on the day the Future Fund opened, with the process towards completing the convertible loan agreement taking just a few weeks. We received the money a few weeks after that.”

Bank scales up to provide additional support during pandemic

Momentum Bioscience is just one of 1,190 companies that have been approved by the Future Fund to receive loans worth a total of £1.14 billion. The cash injection from the government, which ranges between £125,000 to £5 million per company, is matched by third-party investors and eventually converts to an equity stake. 

The portal was critical to the success of the Future Fund enabling the British Business Bank to fast-track the introduction of new processes and simplify access to real-time performance metrics. “We wanted to automate as many workflows as possible,” said Martin Jones, the bank’s Technology Delivery Director. “We had used Salesforce to support another loan programme and knew it could be deployed with minimal customisation.”

The bank, which is dedicated to making financial markets work better for smaller businesses, normally helps companies secure funding via a network of around 130 partners; but this time it was at the heart of the lending operation. “The bank had to scale up very quickly during the pandemic,” said Shepperson.

Portal delivers seamless digital experience

The British Business Bank and PwC developed and launched the portal and more than 250 automated workflows in fewer than 30 days. “It was a challenging time as everyone was working remotely and I had only just started in my role,” commented Jones. “But there was a great sense of purpose; we knew we were delivering something that would make a difference to hundreds of companies and their employees.”

The first payment was made within just one month of the Future Fund portal going live.

Every stage of the application and approval process is underpinned by Salesforce – from setting up online user accounts and running identity checks to issuing contracts and sending email updates. “We can provide investors and companies with a sophisticated and seamless digital experience,” said Jones.

 

Dashboards provide real-time visibility into fund performance

By centralising the management of the Future Fund on a single platform, the British Business Bank can tap into a range of insights. “We can create reports and dashboards in Experience Cloud to track the fund’s operation and performance,” commented Jones.

This visibility was vital on launch day when applications massively exceeded original expectations. “We needed to ensure we had sufficient funds available,” explained Jones. “We created a dashboard which enabled us to see in real-time how much budget had been allocated.”

The dashboards also helped the IT team identify any bottlenecks that might have prevented loan offers from being made with the 21-day target. “We can tweak different workflows in Experience Cloud as well without any disruption or downtime for portal users,” added Jones.

Integrations enable rapid eligibility and identity checks

Experience Cloud is integrated with a number of external data sources to facilitate rapid eligibility and identity checks. The portal has also been seamlessly integrated with solutions from the Salesforce AppExchange to capture digital signatures on contracts and simplify data backups and restores. Data protection is a big priority for the British Business Bank. “With Salesforce Shield, we can encrypt sensitive information stored in the Future Fund portal and create audit trails to safeguard data integrity,” said Jones.

The British Business Bank also uses Salesforce to handle queries about the Future Fund from investors and companies. Details of every call, email, and web form are captured in Service Cloud, which means queries can be answered more efficiently.

Maximising value for UK taxpayers with automated portfolio management

Although applications to the Future Fund closed in early 2021, the bank now faces another challenge: how to manage the government’s investment in more than 1,000 companies. “It’s a massive portfolio and will be impossible to manage using just manual processes,” explained Shepperson. “With Experience Cloud, we can keep adapting the portal to support our ongoing relationships with the Future Fund companies.”

The portal is already being used to simplify key portfolio management tasks, such as capturing companies’ quarterly reports, issuing notifications about future plans, and logging equity conversions. “We are looking at how we can use the portal to track key performance indicators and automate more workflows as companies grow,” commented Shepperson.

Future Fund provides fast and fair access to government loans

The Future Fund didn’t just provide fast access to government loans during the pandemic; it also ensured a fair process. “We wanted to make the scheme as inclusive as possible,” said Shepperson. “With Experience Cloud, we were able to ensure all applications were assessed in a consistent way.”

Around 75% of the £1.14 billion funding was issued to companies with mixed gender senior management teams and 56% to companies with both ethnic minority and white senior management team members. Forty percent of the funding went to companies with headquarters located outside of London. “Small companies play an important role in the UK economy helping to create jobs and drive innovation,” said Shepperson. “With Salesforce, we were able to help more companies access the funds they needed to scale up and stay ahead during the pandemic.”

“There was a great sense of purpose; we knew we were delivering something that would make a difference to hundreds of companies and their employees.” Martin Jones, Technology Delivery Director, British Business Bank.

 

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