The North East Fund helped, during 2020, more than 100 regional companies raise £50m of funding despite the pandemic. Businesses across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham received £20m of investment direct from the Fund which then helped them to secure a further £30m of finance from other investors.
Investments were made in companies well placed to grow and create jobs, for example, those operating in the digital services and clean energy technology sectors. Others emerged from R&D projects of existing companies or from research undertaken by North East universities. Additional investments were made in new projects created by entrepreneurs who have sold businesses and moved onto their next challenge. Furthermore, North East Fund investee, Refract Software, was acquired by a US company and is now intending to make the Newcastle-based firm its European HQ and create 100 more regional jobs. Jason Hobbs, CEO of the North East Fund, commented, “The region’s SMEs have shown incredible resilience and adaptability as the pandemic impacted every aspect of their operations. Prior to this, we’d invested in around 220 companies which have held up remarkably well, and we provided further funding to some to help manage the impacts of Covid-19 and to exploit new opportunities which arose. “Our fund managers continued to invest in business and consumer services companies, and manufacturers. NEL Fund Managers delivered our Growth Capital and Small Loan Funds, and continues to provide loans from both under the CBILs scheme where the Government makes the first years’ interest payments to reduce the cost to the SME. “Our Small Loan Fund has supported over 100 companies, lending from £10k to £100k for all purposes including improving online systems and business premises, to acquiring new equipment. “Although last year was extremely difficult, the challenges will continue this year too. However, the tenacity and resilience shown by the North East’s business community demonstrates that the region has the ability to overcome adversity and prosper.” The North East Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and European Investment Bank, expects to invest a further £70m in around 300 more companies over the next few years across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham. Free one-to-one information sessions are available to discuss funding and business support. For more details, go to www.northeastfund.org