As popular BBC Two TV series Dragon’s Den returns to our screens on Wednesday 15th July, some of the UK’s best known online entrepreneurs have announced the launch of a new investment fund to assist digital start up businesses. With the online industry continuing to prove its worth during these difficult times, this news is likely to be well-received.

The new project, PROFounders Capital, has been set up by respected online gurus Brent Hoberman (co-founder of high end home furnishings site MyDeco, and dotcom success lastminute.com), Michael Birch (founder of social networking site Bebo) and two other investors, Peter Dubens and Jonathan Goodwin.

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The fund aims to support and finance new online initiatives and technologies as well as helping to encourage new businesses to remain within the UK and Europe. This last point is of particular significance with more and more established businesses announcing plans to axe marketing jobs in lieu of centralising their operations overseas where costs can be lower. The BBC online Jobs Tracker shows how serious this trend has become since the start of 2009.

The initial pot of cash available from the PROFounders Capital fund is reported to be £30/$48.5 million, with the founders hoping to double this figure over the next few months with additional entrepreneurs coming on board. And, like the gang on Dragon’s Den, the founders are pledging to get actively involved with each start up business in order to lend their skills and considerable online experience (as well as their enviable lists of industry contacts!)