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Jo Lappin and Siobhan

At NPIF, we’ve been speaking to leaders and partners across Cumbria and Tees Valley to understand the opportunities and challenges facing the business community from across the regions, and how we can work together to truly build a stronger North.

Here are just some of the views from those leaders and partners, giving us valuable insight into what matters to organisations today.

Views from Cumbria –

Dr Steve Curl, Cumbria LEP Board Member and Member of the NPIF Strategic Oversight Board, said:

Steve Curl“Cumbria’s economy centres on advanced manufacturing, green energy, tourism and agriculture. BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, and Sellafield on the West Coast are big contributors but we also have a large and thriving SME community. We already have some good examples of NPIF debt and equity provision to support businesses in the county that has both supported growth and aided recovery from the pandemic.”

Jo Lappin, CEO at the Cumbria LEP, said:

Jo Lappin“North West businesses can certainly see that there are lots of opportunities, but they are also facing some considerable challenges. They’re dealing with the end of the pandemic and the challenges that this has presented for businesses, and they’re also still managing the changes following the end of the EU Exit Transition period.”

Paul Leyland, investment manager at NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, said:

Paul Leyland“A stronger North will be an improved ecosystem for doing business – it isn’t just focused on entrepreneurs and SMEs, but also the professional communities that support and advise them. Working collaboratively together will drive the success of the Northern Powerhouse.”

Sue Barnard, senior manager at British Business Bank, said:

Headshot of Sue Barnard, the UKN Senior Manager at the British Business Bank“A stronger North means working more collaboratively with stakeholders, whether that’s corporate finance partners, LEPs, Growth Hubs and banks – ensuring that we can provide full support to businesses. Investment is key, but it’s also about bringing along other services that drive skills, digitalisation and innovation. We want to continue to embrace collaboration to support businesses and create a stronger North.”

Gary Guest, North West Fund Director at NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, said:

Gary Guest“Cumbria has such a diverse business community which has shown tremendous flexibility, innovation and tenacity over the past couple of years. It is so important now that Cumbrian businesses get the support they need to continue their recovery from the pandemic and build back stronger. Long-standing issues such as broadband and staffing need to be addressed to encourage further investment in the region.”

Matt Robinson, Head of Lending at NPIF – BFS & MSIF Microfinance, said:

Matt Robinson“For Cumbrian businesses emerging from the impact of the pandemic, the most important thing is access to fair and affordable finance for recovery and growth.  “There’s also a real need for collaboration between the private and public sectors to create a prosperous region which produces economic benefits such better jobs and higher wages for local people.”

Views from Tees Valley –

Siobhan McArdle, Chair of the Tees Valley LEP, said:

Siobhan McCardle“A Stronger North is one which is primed to capitalise on the opportunities that are being created in the emerging and innovative sectors of tomorrow such as clean energy, offshore wind and digitalisation. We are clearly leading the way across the Tees Valley as we work with partners outside the region, such as the East Coast Cluster, to drive UK-leading projects such as Net Zero Teesside’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage scheme.”

Ken Cooper, managing director – venture solutions at British Business Bank, said: ​

Ken Cooper“The North has got a really great contribution to make in terms of building back better, and that’s really what the levelling up agenda – and what we’re doing at the British Business Bank – is focused on. It’s about enabling every region to make a bigger economic contribution for the benefit of the whole of the UK.”

Will Clark, NPIF – Mercia equity finance, said:

Will Clark“A Stronger North should be home to businesses which can be leaders across the globe; a region that leads rather than follows, where entrepreneurialism flourishes and is at the cutting edge of the innovations and technologies we will need as we embrace the challenges of initiatives like ‘net-zero’. We want a region that values and is valued by all of its people.”

Joanne Whitfield, North East Fund Director at NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance said:

Joanne Whitfield“As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, we can’t forget that we’re also dealing with the impact of Brexit. It’s really important for the North of the UK to be able to retain skills and create and safeguard jobs. There are some fantastic businesses in the region, and there’s a lot going on in Tees Valley and beyond in terms of large infrastructure projects that will bring a lot of opportunity.”

Stephen Waud, NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance, said:

Stephen Waud“A stronger North means economic resilience, with its own financial & business support infrastructure that nurtures the growth and development of vital new businesses. A vibrancy of economy that makes the North the ‘go to’ place for investment – where
equality of opportunity isn’t just a soundbite but is a lived out practice.”

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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