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13th September 2021

Business Matters: NPIF – Helping Northern businesses take the next step

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Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Sean Hutchinson from the British Business Bank, says it’s been a busy period for the Northern businesses, as markets continue to bounce back and we see a new generation of growing businesses prosper post-lockdown.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s portfolio has been pivotal in driving this forward, with many working hard to adapt, diversify and develop their offering to respond to shifting demands.

Many Northern businesses have looked to NPIF to provide the capital required to see them through a period of closure or reduced work from clients during COVID, while others looked to invest in product development, expand internationally or acquire new sites. This has been hugely important to our local business communities, as it has created new jobs and opportunities at a time they were needed most.

To date, NPIF has made 1,206 investments into 913 businesses, deploying a total of £281m directly and leveraging a further £322m from the private sector. Of these, there are countless examples, particularly over the last 12 months, of NPIF-backed businesses that demonstrate how funding is used to help grow a business, creating positive economic impact along the way.

Take Bolton-headquartered London Lash Pro as an example – an online wholesaler of eyelashes and associated goods, such as glues, cleansers and accessories, the business was founded in 2014 by CEO Hannah Putjato in 2014 and now sells to eyelash technicians globally. At the start of 2020, the company was set to expand its European operations significantly through holding increased stock at its German facility, to reduce costs associated with Brexit. However, international lockdowns side-lined many beauticians and impacted its sales. In April 2021, the business secured a £300,000 NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance investment backed by CBILS and was able to resume its international expansion plans.

Particularly commonplace across tech and life sciences business backed by NPIF, product development was another common theme over the past 18 months. Based out of Leeds and founded in 2018, drug discovery company LUNAC Therapeutics is a leading example of this. Focused on the development of advanced life-saving anticoagulants, the business has seen huge success in its first few years and secured £4.75 million in a funding round led by NPIF, that included NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance. The funds have been used to advance pre-clinical and manufacturing developments programmes and prepare for clinical studies, helping to save lives and boost the North’s credentials as a leading hub for life sciences.

Investing in a diverse range of sectors and businesses is a key principle of NPIF and it allows smaller businesses to take big steps forward in their growth plan and help supercharge their growth. Lego retail business Bricks in Bloom was able to secure a £75,000 loan from NPIF – BFS & MSIF Microfinance, managed by GC Business Finance & MSIF, and has since scaled the business significantly. With a goal to offer the largest range of Lego in the UK, utilising funds it was able to take on two new members of staff and move to a new premises in Carlisle that is four times the size of its last home.

Whilst the past 18 months have been far from easy for organisations across the North, there have been countless success stories in the NPIF portfolio, with businesses making use of our equity finance, debt finance and microfinance funds to seize the opportunities ahead.

NPIF’s fund managers are working hard across all areas of the North to advise on the best course of action and provide support, investment guidance and the tools for growth. I would urge any business that may be seeking funding make contact via www.NPIF.co.uk.

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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If you would like to meet with one of our appointed Fund Managers to talk in more detail please go to 'Funds Available' to find the Fund Managers operating in your area

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Microfinance

£25k – £100k

Microfinance page
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Debt Finance

£100k – £750k

Debt Finance page
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Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Equity Finance page
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