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Back to News Keira Shepperson

30th November 2023

Net zero by 2050: How NPIF is empowering Northern businesses to reach this target


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Keira Shepperson at the British Business Bank explores the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s role in driving Northern businesses to achieve net zero targets. She discusses how this strengthens business performance and stakeholder relationships, as well as supporting the UK in reaching wider sustainability goals.

With a national drive to reach a decarbonised economy by 2050, three quarters of consumers expect organisations to enable them to be greener, with 83 per cent believing they should be doing more to be environmentally sustainable. For businesses, this means it’s now more important than ever to demonstrate that they are committed towards the net zero transition not only to maintain their appeal amongst consumers, but also to align with stakeholders looking to make responsible investments and partnerships.

However, a recent study revealed that whilst the vast majority of businesses have net zero targets in place, a lack of finance presents an uphill struggle, especially for smaller businesses. It is promising to see that 22 per cent of businesses are prepared to access external finance to support net zero actions in the next five years.

Recently surpassing £1 billion of direct and private sector co-investment, NPIF works with its’ dedicated fund managers and the Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Growth Hubs across the North to support businesses in accessing funding and investment. This accelerates their ambitious growth journeys and, in turn, supports them in achieving sustainability targets.  In October last year, we saw eleven Northern LEPs

A green economy

NPIF investment has a history of helping transform small businesses into industry leaders both on a national and global scale, making it an attractive option for many looking to access finance to meet net zero targets. This year alone, the fund has supported over 120 businesses, with many of these using the investment to support their sustainable initiatives.

Cheshire-based Pura is an excellent example of this, which, since securing NPIF funding, has now firmly secured its place in the US market with its eco-friendly baby wipes and nappy business. Since securing a £4.25 million round in February 2022 which included investment from NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, Pura’s sustainable initiatives have soared, seeing partnerships with Asda through the creation of recycled carboard shelves (made from recycled nappies), as well as a partnership with NappiCycle – Europe’s only nappy recycling partner.

Reducing plastic remains a top priority on environmental agendas, whether this be through recycling initiatives like Pura, or creating plastic free products to begin with.

In 2015, the government introduced the first charges for the use of plastic carrier bags in supermarkets. In the same year, Liverpool-based Green Bell Packaging began their business focusing on plastic free packaging, with the first completely plant-based mailing bag reaching the UK market in 2020. In May 2022, the business secured £100,000 investment from NPIF – GC & River Microfinance. With the investment, NPIF has supported Green Bell Packaging to expand its team to meet growing demand for environmental products, supporting the continued production of the sustainable alternative.

The manufacturing sector saw a surge in outsourcing in the 1970s as a means to reduce costs, and though helpful to the manufacturer, only now are we starting to understand the environmental benefits of locally produced goods. Getting these onto the British high street is a great way to ensure sustainable produce is accessible for the consumer.

Floks, a sustainable bedding manufacturer, is a great example of this. Located in Yorkshire, the luxury bedding brand raised £100,000 from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance to support the production of duvets, pillows and mattress toppers, all made from British wool and organic cotton. By using British sourced materials, not only does the business support the local economy, but it also reduces the need to outsource materials which can leave a trail of hefty carbon footprints.

An ‘eco’-nomic future ahead

This is only the beginning for NPIF, with the next phase of the fund launching next year.  NPIF II will continue investing in businesses with ambitions to become more sustainable. Through this, NPIF II will continue driving economic growth across the North and beyond, with an increased focus on environmental, social and governance factors which contribute towards wider, global net zero goals.

The NPIF project is supported financially by the EU using funding from the European Regional Development Fund 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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