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Back to News Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank

18th July 2022

Business Matters: 5 Years of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

On its fifth year anniversary, Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, recaps how the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund  has helped to build a stronger north.

It’s been five years since the British Business Bank and 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships across the North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and Tees Valley came together to launch the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

In that time, the Fund has achieved so much. In numbers, it’s delivered 1,392 investments to more than 1,000 SMEs across the North, directly investing £334m and attracting an additional £504m in private sector co-investment. In total, this equates to more than £830m of investment that has been directly utilised to nurture regional entrepreneurship, help reduce the North-South divide and create economic prosperity in the region.

According to an evaluation by independent research company SQW in April this year, this has directly led to the creation of more than 6,000 new high-quality jobs – almost 1,000 more than originally planned.

Yet, these figures only tell a part of the story. Funding has also been utilised for a wide range of other purposes, such as developing and commercialising new products and services, purchasing new equipment, moving and expanding premises or even as working capital to finance new orders. What’s more impressive is that investment has gone beyond just the big cities. In fact, as much as 68 per cent of NPIF investment has gone to businesses based outside of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield.

It’s testament to the network and partnerships we have formed, that NPIF has been able to embed itself so well in thediverse northern business communities. This is largely due to our fund managers who arebased across the regions, understand the strengths and opportunities of each area, and will evaluate a business thoroughly to understand its potential.

Recent additions to the portfolio outside of the major cities include Chester-based car leasing comparison platform provider Moneyshake, Stockton-on-Tees headquartered security firm Next Level Security Services (NLSS), and manufacturing company Smartflow Couplings, based in Grimsby.

Another key trait of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is that it’s sector agnostic. Over the years, this has led to NPIF investing in all kinds of busineses across traditional and new industries, from century-old manufacturers to pioneering SaaS companies.

What’s more, is that many of these businesses are playing an active role in the transition to a net zero economy. Since 2017, NPIF has provided support to Northern busineses that are creating eco-led solutions, such eco-friendly baby care brand Pura.

It’s fair to say that when the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund was launched in 2017, we couldn’t have predicted how much would happen to the economy, as a result of the pandemic,current supply chain and rising business operating costs. Despite these economic challenges, NPIF has remained a key partner to businesses across the North of England, helping them grow and prosper.

There have been so many important moments over the past five years, and as we look towards the next generation of NPIF – announced by the Chancellor at the Spending Review last October  – there are a host of learnings we can take. The network we’ve built holds immense value to regional business communities across the North, which goes far beyond the funding itself.

In the interim, I would urge any business in the North considering investment to take a closer look at the funding options provided by the Fund.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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