New evidence published today shows that the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund has increased the availability of finance in the region and this is already making a positive impact on performance of those businesses.
The ‘Early Assessment Report’ undertaken by an independent research company (SQW Ltd) found that whilst NPIF is only two years into a 10-year programme, there is already strong evidence of success. The finance has been distributed widely across the NPIF region, and the Fund has successfully engaged with the Local Enterprise Partnerships and other partners and built confidence in accessing finance.
The research shows that NPIF finance has enabled a wide variety of firms to invest in activities that will directly improve their productivity through enhancing skills, increasing research and development and introducing new products and services.
For SMEs that have received finance 70% report increased skill levels in their workforce and over 60% have introduced more efficient processes. Those receiving equity finance are highly likely to have increased investment in R&D (80%) and introduced new products or services (75%).
The resulting improvement in productivity has already started to translate into additional sales, good quality employment and exports. More than 60% of firms reported their sales were higher as a result of accessing finance through NPIF. Furthermore, 75% of firms have increased employment with over 80% of these jobs being above UK median earnings.
The most recent NPIF programme data shows that the Fund has invested £123m into 464 ambitious SMEs across the Northern Powerhouse region to date.
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at British Business Bank, said: “This evaluation report confirms that the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is doing what it set out to do and is making an impact in the Northern Powerhouse region. The fund has performed strongly and after only two years is ahead of profile on all the targets set for it at launch. This has been made possible by the outstanding efforts of all involved, including our stakeholders in the LEPs and the fund management teams we have contracted with.
“This strong performance means that the British Business Bank is able to announce the release of the final £106m tranche of NPIF monies to our fund managers. This funding had been held back in case there were gaps in the fund’s performance but it will now go to bolster the investment potential of the existing funds.”
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.