An investment programme that has raised more than £220m for North East SMEs, creating over 1500 jobs, is looking for more businesses to apply for investment.
In its first four years of operations, the North East Fund has helped 350 businesses to raise more than £200m of funding. The £80m provided by the North East Fund helped those companies to secure a further £140m from other investors and funders.
The North East Fund plans to invest a further £40m in at least 150 more companies over the next two years and is calling for businesses to get in touch to discuss their working capital requirements and growth plans.
External Engagement Officer for the North East Fund James Holloway said: "Many business owners have fantastic ideas that require funding but might not know what is available, or how to present those ideas in a structured plan. We work with businesses to better understand the various options open to them. We can explain how debt or equity funding from the North East Fund might work for them, as well as how to pull in funding and support from other sources. We help them build a full package of support and provide guidance on completing their funding applications - all on a free, confidential and no obligation basis."
Established with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the North East Fund, a suite of five North East venture capital and loan funds, provides loans or equity investment from £10,000 to more than £1m. It is available to businesses of most sizes and sectors which are based in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear or County Durham.
Sweet Solstice in Alnwick is just one of the 350 businesses that have benefited from investment via the North East Fund. Owner Autumn Rabbitts secured a £24,500 North East Small Loan Fund investment through NEL Fund Managers to expand her home-based bespoke cake-making business, Plumb and Rabbitts Cake Studio, to establish Sweet Solstice, a magical witch-themed town-centre bakery.
She said: "This investment has made it possible for me to take my business in a new direction much faster than I could have done it alone. From the moment that I was referred to NEL Fund Managers things moved really quickly. I already had my business plan in place and so it was only a matter of weeks before I had the funding and Sweet Solstice was born. I already have one member of staff, with another one starting in May. I would advise any North East small business owner with dreams of expansion to look into the North East Fund."
Recent larger deals have included a £1.5M investment in the creation of more digital jobs in the North East by funding growth for AI-powered retail technology platform RevLifter. The North East Development Capital Fund investment is helping the London-based technology company to recruit and grow its business from a new office in the Catalyst building in Newcastle, which is also home to the National Innovation Centre for Data. Recent six-figure investments are also helping to fund growth plans at Gateshead-based, personalised digital education provider Sub-10 and Sunderland's quality assurance SAAS platform company, Mesma.
Andrew Gibson, External Engagement Officer for the North East Fund, said:
"External investment can help to strengthen a business. Our fund managers provide businesses with loans or equity funding to support working capital requirements and business growth plans. They can also make introductions to industry contacts and to other national and international investors. These have almost tripled the value of our own investments, making a £220m impact on the region in the past four years. We'd like to talk to more North East businesses to help them to tap into available funding."