Wednesday, November 9, 2016

News: Business Bank highlights opportunities across North

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With European funding for the new £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) safe, the British Business Bank has highlighted the significant opportunities for ambitious, high-growth businesses across the North of England.

The Sheffield-based British Business Bank will be investing £50m of its own capital into the new fund which is hoped to bring together over £400m and launch substantively in January 2017.

The fund builds on the work of initiatives backed by European money such as Finance Yorkshire - the regional funding body that has invested £105m fund into companies in Yorkshire and Humber.

The bank has this week published a report to mark its second birthday which details how the NPIF will offer solutions for smaller businesses looking to grow, as well as identifying the strengths and challenges within the region.

An Independent Economic Review of the Northern Powerhouse, as well as highlighting areas of focus that could drive future growth, identified a number of existing strengths including capabilities in Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health Innovation and the Digital Economy.

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The report includes a number of success stories from across the Northern Powerhouse. the first is the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham for the joint venture between public and private sector organisations that is capitalising on the advanced engineering and manufacturing expertise within the region.

NPIF is expected to support a wide range of firms at different points in their development, from early-stage businesses seeking microfinance to high potential firms wanting to take advantage of growth opportunities. The report highlights that encouraging high potential firms is a particular UK challenge and an emphasis on equity funding may be needed to best support them. Whilst the UK performs relatively well in terms of creating new business start-ups, it is less effective at growing them compared to other countries.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said: "It makes good financial and economic sense to pool resources and collaborate across the North of England to help increase the availability of finance to SMEs.

"The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund offers a precedent and model for pan-Northern economic collaboration, which will yield great dividends in the years to come. It realises the Northern Powerhouse concept for the smaller business community; it forges close relationships between the UK's national development bank and strategic local economic development partners; and it offers a powerful catalyst for a narrative of regional success that has the potential to become self-reinforcing."

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, added: "NPIF is an exceptionally important programme for the Bank. Working collaboratively with the ten LEPs in the North of England, we are bringing together a range of funding sources to help small businesses achieve their growth ambitions, revitalise local economies and create jobs."

The British Business Bank manages the Government's access to finance programmes for smaller businesses within a single commercially-minded institution. A number of specialist fund managers have been appointed who will make the individual investments in smaller businesses.

Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund website

Images: British Business Bank


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