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

12th April 2021

Exploring the future of funding in the North


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Sean Hutchinson, senior investment manager at the British Business Bank, says over the last year, there is no doubt that the small business community has been faced with prolonged challenges, driven by the national lockdown.

Over the last year, there is no doubt that the small business community has been faced with prolonged challenges, driven by the national lockdown. As restrictions begin to lift, we’re looking ahead to the future of investment in the North, and the role that this will play in helping businesses to truly build back better.

It’s crucial that the focus remains on supporting small businesses in the months and years to come. We’ve already seen a united response to the pandemic, with the government’s CBILS, BBLS and Future Fund initiatives providing invaluable support to businesses. In many cases, this support has helped organisations to adapt to a challenging landscape, create new products or services, grow their teams, or expand into new markets.

This support is set to continue, helping to stimulate wider economic growth. In this year’s Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a series of initiatives, including the Recovery Loan Scheme and Future Fund: Breakthrough, to further support businesses in getting back on their feet, paving a clear route to recovery.

As we move forward, there is also an opportunity to focus on facilitating greener investment in the North. Supporting businesses with a low-carbon or sustainability focus is key to driving innovation that can contribute towards a net-zero economy and create a brighter future for communities far beyond those in our region.

At the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, we’ve seen the transformational impact that business support and funding can have on organisations of a range of sizes and sectors. This month, we’re celebrating four years of NPIF, and the support we’ve provided to businesses in that time. Since launch, NPIF has invested more than £237m in the North, attracting an additional £288m of investment from the private sector. The total impact has amounted to over £500m in funding for the region’s businesses, creating around 3,000 jobs.

This investment has been spread across over 1,000 deals, supporting organisations such as Liverpool-based chemical technology business, Liverpool Chirochem. The business recently secured £1m in funding from NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, alongside £1m from the Government’s Future Fund, enabling it to scale its operations and continue to discover and develop high-quality drugs for pharmaceutical companies around the world. This follows previous NPIF equity funding into the company, taking the total invested to £1.7 million, and highlighting the impact of follow-on funding.

NPIF has also invested in Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), a Sheffield-based 3D print equipment company, which raised £2.5m in its latest funding round. This included funding from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, the Government’s Future Fund and other investors.

Investments are spread across the North, and include eco-friendly e-scooter firm Ginger, which sought funding to expand its operations across the Tees Valley. The company secured a £500,000 investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, after launching its first e-scooter rental trials in the UK in Tees Valley last summer.

The impact that this type of support can have on businesses is significant, and is likely to only increase in importance in the near future. The coming months will provide an opportunity for the North to lead the way when it comes to economic recovery, and with continued investment and support schemes in place, we can ensure that the region’s small business community thrives.

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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