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Back to News A headshot of Grant Peggie, the Director of Regional Funds at the British Business Bank

13th November 2020

Northern ambition: which sectors are paving the way?


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Grant Peggie at the British Business Bank, says the Northern economy is renowned for its dynamic start-ups and entrepreneurs, all of which pave the way for future innovation and economic growth and prosperity. Some of the sectors that the North is world class include, but are not limited, to advanced manufacturing, construction, Life Sciences, digital and creative tech, clean technologies and education.

While it has been a turbulent year for all markets in all regions, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) is proud to support small businesses of all shapes and sectors across the North. To date, NPIF has made 924 investments at a total of £199m into 715 SMEs. This attracted an additional £232m of private sector investment.

Sector highlights

There have been some stand out sectors and sub sectors in 2020 that have seen a significant rise in demand for investments in. Whether it has been taking on new staff or upskilling the existing team, developing new products or services, investment in innovation or moving into new markets, these businesses are reacting to pandemic and identifying new opportunities in this extremely challenging climate.

1.    Digital Technology – since the start of the year, NPIF has invested a total £11.3m into 24 information and communications businesses, with a further £37.3m leveraged from the private sector. In total, this sector accounted for 21 per cent of investments made by the Fund for the year to date.

In October, Manchester-based fitness focused management software platform Fit Cloud Technology, trading as Membr, secured significant investment from NPIF-Maven Equity Finance to fuel the next phase of global expansion. This expansion was accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the fitness industry turn to delivery of virtual experiences when they were forced to close physical spaces, which has resulted in an influx of consumers absorbing fitness content digitally. This equity investment builds on previous debt funding provided from NPIF by FW Capital Debt Finance.

2.    Science and New Technologies – over 15 per cent of NPIF funding in 2020 went into businesses operating in the health and life science sectors.  With £8.2m invested directly from the Fund into 16 businesses, topped up by £6.1m from the private sector, this has been a key area for investment this year. In direct response to the pandemic, many businesses have pivoted or expanded their capabilities to support in the UK-wide effort to counteract COVID-19.

Abingdon Health, that received £1.5m of NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance is one such example. Following an expansion to their headquarters, also supported by NPIF backing, the business entered into an agreement earlier this year to manufacture rapid COVID-19 test strips.

3.    Advanced Manufacturing – NPIF has made £6.9m of investment into 28 manufacturing businesses in 2020 and a further £11.7m funding secured privately. While the initial £100,000 investment was made in 2019, NPIF portfolio business Defib Machines has had impressive success this year. The Leeds business, which manufactures and supplies fully serviced and managed defibrillators to businesses for immediate use in the event of a cardiac arrest, scaled its business nationwide and more than doubled its staff since receiving the funding from NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance.

Supporting the North

The pandemic has brought a period of significant change for all sectors. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is offering a lifeline for many, with all of NPIF’s Debt and Microfinance fund managers able to offer these CBILS backed loans.  Sectors that are thriving can make the most of all the NPIF funds available, including the Equity funds, to grow and pioneer new innovations. It has been no mean feat and we have been impressed by the sheer volume of Northern businesses that have adapted quickly to meet new and growing demands in their sectors.

Our fund managers are working hard across all areas of the North to advise of the best course of actions and provide support, investment guidance and the tools for growth. I would urge any business that may be seeking funding make contact via

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.

Grant Peggie
Director at British Business Bank

Editors Notes



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