A fund which is partly supported by the European Investment Bank has invested more than £50m in businesses across the North of England over the last year.
The £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the Government and the European Investment Bank was launched by the British Business Bank a year ago. It is part of the Government’s “Northern Powerhouse” strategy to back fast growing small businesses.
Ken Cooper, the managing director of the British Business Bank, said that, so far, the fund has invested in 260 separate businesses.
He said: “That investment is being targeted to companies who can use that investment to grow. They are taking on new staff and new contracts. It’s all about increasing productivity in the companies receiving those funds.”
Mr Cooper said that one business - Libertine, which is developing motor generator systems - had moved its headquarters from Cambridge to Sheffield.
Libertine will use the £500,000 investment to develop its technology and set up a new headquarters in Sheffield with product development and testing facilities.
Mr Cooper added: “Having the funding available helped them to move to Sheffield. That’s a clear result from NPIF.”
Other firms that have received a boost from NPIF support include York-based Hydrotherm, which secured a £400,000 equity investment. The company aims to develop a lithium-ion powered portable water heater for camping and other leisure activities. The Leeds-based Defib Machines has received funding to expand its UK-wide defibrillator supply business.
Speaking before an event in Leeds to mark the first anniversary of the NPIF, Mr Cooper said he was determined to secure a seamless transition to a second NPIF.
He added: “The whole point of having the one year anniversary celebration is part of this awareness raising.
“At the moment, because the funds are doing well, we have got a lot of political support at local enterprise partnership level.”
He added: “The more people talk about that and the more people appreciate what is going on with the current fund, the more likely it is that we will get funding to do something very similar.”
“We’ve seen inward investment into Yorkshire. We’ve seen people being hired, who would not have been hired without our funding. It is early days, we’re only a year in, but all the signs are good.”
Although he acknowledged that not every business should borrow, he believed that many more firms could benefit from NPIF.
Mr Cooper added: “It certainly seems from the evidence that there are businesses out there who are quite profitable, probably producing a reasonable living for the business owner, but with a little bit of extra finance they could really ramp up their activities and become much bigger busineses.”