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Back to News Keira Shepperson

17th July 2023

Business Matters: Reviving manufacturing: How NPIF investment is spring boarding the industry back to growth


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Keira Shepperson, director of regional funds at the British Business Bank reflects on the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s impact on businesses in the manufacturing industry, and how its support helps the industry as a whole.

Manufacturing businesses are the backbone of our economy, driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth. By extending a helping hand to these vital enterprises, we can collectively safeguard the resilience and prosperity of the entire industry.

As the home of the industrial revolution, the North has a storied history as a major global player in manufacturing. It also still plays a vital role in the UK economy. Between January and March 2023, it accounted for 9.5 per cent of total UK economic output, as well as 8 per cent of employment in the same period. As the industry navigates a challenging year, it becomes increasingly important to highlight the significance of supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the manufacturing sector.

Supporting SMEs through NPIF investment

Small businesses form a large part of the UK’s manufacturing landscape, and their contributions extend far beyond economic figures. They foster innovation, drive regional development, and provide vital employment opportunities.

These smaller businesses are often more agile and responsive than their larger counterparts, leading the way in technological advancements, process improvements, and product diversification. They frequently act as key suppliers and partners for larger companies, contributing to the entire industry’s value chain.

Recognising their importance, NPIF has been at the forefront of providing valuable investments to manufacturing companies, providing targeted support and assistance to encourage growth. By doing so, NPIF not only bolsters the immediate prospects of individual businesses but fortifies the entire industry’s resilience and competitiveness.

NPIF has invested into established brands like Polar Specialist Coatings. Located in Cheshire, the business has a rich heritage in the British paint industry and is founded by the fifth generation of the Johnstone paints family.

It secured a six-figure investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance to aid growth and new product development. The investment will pave the way for an eco-friendly bitumen paint product which holds a lower toxic risk than other products on the market.

NPIF support makes a tangible and measurable difference to businesses like Polar Specialist Coatings, financing product development and future growth plans and in turn fortifying the manufacturing industry as a whole – one business at a time.

NPIF also invests into companies which are helping the sector modernise, such as its latest deal with Productive Machines. The Sheffield-based artificial intelligence (AI) start-up raised £2.2 million in April this year through seed funding, with participation from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance.

Productive Machines aims to make an advanced machine tool process optimisation technology available to a far wider range of manufacturers worldwide. It will reduce energy consumption by up to 25 per cent, as well as improve surface quality, yield, and waste reduction, which offers the potential to generate high value jobs in the industry.

Lancashire-based Glider is another business synthesising manufacturing with new technology. It secured a seven-figure loan from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance in May, and offers a software and online platform for construction companies to improve efficiency and sustainability and comply with new safety standards and is used by many of the UK’s biggest construction companies.

Skipper’s Pet Products is another example of a valuable NPIF investment into manufacturing. The business secured an investment package worth £150,000, delivered through a £75,000 NPIF – FFE & BEF Microfinance loan backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS), and £75,000 directly from Finance For Enterprise.

The Grimsby-based pet food manufacturer produces a range of fish-based dogs treats and will use the investment to scale up its operations by relocating to a new premises to increase capacity, helping it target significant growth in both the UK and international pet foods sector.

Skipper’s uses an ancient preserving technique, with the origins of the method  going back to the Vikings period.

Investments like this demonstrate the impact NPIF can have in developing businesses into major powerhouses of creativity and development for their industries.

Financial empowerment is crucial in tackling industry challenges

Facilitating access to finance through funds like NPIF can provide a significant boost to SMEs, enabling them to expand their operations, innovate, and compete effectively on a global scale. Even though activity in the sector has fallen over the past ten months, NPIF’s recent investments highlight the North’s exciting manufacturers that will be pivotal in returning the sector back to growth.

By investing in the growth and development of small businesses, we help nurture a resilient ecosystem that drives innovation, employment, and economic progress. The British Business Bank remains committed to ensuring the vibrancy and prosperity of the manufacturing industry, and NPIF plays a vital role in supporting businesses today to pave the way for a thriving industry tomorrow.

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.

Editors Notes

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