During this difficult time, it is encouraging to see that the northern business community is pulling together to support each other and our wider communities. There are many examples of small businesses repurposing their products and services to support the NHS and the most vulnerable members of our communities and I am proud that many NPIF businesses are stepping up to address some of these challenges.
We are also seeing many small businesses continuing to seek investment through the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. NPIF is still open for business and has already supported 61 deals worth over £14m since the beginning of 2020. This highlights that, despite the economic shocks being experienced across the north, that there are still small innovative companies who are making strategic decisions to grow .
Front line fight
We are witnessing a number of NPIF investee businesses working on the frontline in the fight against covid-19. Doncaster-based IP&C Solutions, which provides decontamination services to laboratories nationwide, recently received a £150,000 loan to support its growth from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance to take on new staff and expand its services. In response to the impact of coronavirus, its services have been extended to cover sites including hospitals, schools, play areas and workplaces. The business is currently operating seven days a week in order to meet the challenges presented by COVID 19.
Meanwhile Didsbury Gin, which received funding in 2019 from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, has completely diversified and switched its gin production to manufacture hand sanitisers for key workers across the country. The company is already providing its important products to the NHS in the North West and the Greater Manchester police.
Chatta recently received a £250,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance. The small business is run by former teacher Chris Williams who developed a software platform to help children read and write more confidently. The system is already used by almost 100 schools worldwide and the funding will be used to help the business expand. As many parents will be home-educating their children in these difficult circumstances, Chatta has been made free of charge during lockdown to allow families to communicate and learn together.
We are seeing businesses pulling together at this time and recognise the importance of making small businesses can access the right support that they need. Our fund managers continue to work across the Northern Powerhouse to provide support to existing portfolio companies and to provide guidance to new businesses who are seeking funding to move into new markets, recruit new staff or upskill existing staff. We are also working with our Local Enterprise Partnerships and Growth Hubs to ensure that businesses have access to advice and support including wider Government measures to support business during the COVID 19 response.
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.