North East Fund helps 350 firms raise £220m

The North East Fund announced it has helped 350 businesses raise about £220 million of funding in its first four years of operations.

The Newcastle-based fund said the £80 million it provided helped those companies secure a further £140 million from other investors.

The North East Fund said it plans to invest a further £40 million in at least 150 more companies over the next two years.

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 £1 million.

It is available to businesses of most sizes and sectors which are based in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham.

North East Fund external engagement officer 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.”

Sweet Solstice in Alnwick is 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 cake business, Plumb and Rabbitts Cake Studio, to establish Sweet Solstice, a town centre bakery.

Rabbitts 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 £1.5 million 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.

North East Fund external engagement officer Andrew Gibson 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.”