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Back to News Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank

7th September 2020

NPIF: Strengthening innovative businesses in the North


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, discusses how the North has become a more attractive place to start, grow and scale a business

Whilst lockdown brought a cloud of uncertainty for all, entrepreneurial businesses in the Northern Powerhouse regions have stepped up to the challenge and used this period as an opportunity to innovate and do things differently.

According to data from the Centre for Entrepreneurs, 315,339 companies were formed between March and July this year – a 4.5 per cent jump from the same period in 2019. This is positive news, especially given the recent market conditions having been the most unpredictable in recent memory.

In addition, the Manchester and Liverpool area has recently been ranked 9th globally as an emerging ecosystem for start-ups in the Startup Genome 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. Meanwhile, Leeds was listed 10th in the UK as a place to start a business in StartupBlink’s Startup Ecosystem Rankings 2020, whilst in the Tees Valley a new £200m business park at Teesside airport has broken ground. Such rankings and initiatives are testament to the commitment of Northern business communities to make their regions an attractive place to start, grow and scale a business.

Accessible investment has undoubtedly played a key role supporting entrepreneurial businesses, with the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) at its very heart. The various funding options of Microfinance, Debt Finance and Equity Finance have all been well utilised by more than 650 SMEs accessing over £172m over the past three years. This in turn has helped to stimulate growth, create jobs and help ambitious companies take that decisive next step.

NPIF Microfinance is designed to provide loans for growth and development between £25K and £100K, while NPIF’s Debt funds provide loans from £100K to £750K and are typically used by early stage or established businesses to finance their expansion such as taking on new staff, purchasing new equipment or launching a new product or service. NPIF’s Equity funds (up to £2m) on the other hand are accessible to innovative and fast-growing businesses at all stages, particularly those looking to grow at a rate that cannot be supported through borrowing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NPIF’s Microfinance and Debt funds have also been providing funding backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS), a welcome respite for many businesses across sectors that are in need of immediate financial support. Thanks to these emergency funds, adjustments to business models can be made to keep growth plans on track, protecting jobs and future opportunities.

Looking forward 

There are many examples of businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region that have taken advantage of the finance options available to them through NPIF, both before and during the pandemic, in turn strengthening the North’s collective economic draw. We’re now seeing more businesses start up here and settle for the long term, throughout their growth journey.

The continued birth and growth of business in the North will be fundamental to the UK economic recovery. Start-ups seizing their opportunities and challenging in today’s market climate are set to be the next generation of NPIF backed businesses. We look forward to following their success and, through our dedicated fund managers, taking them to next level – growing our business community and continuing to address historic regional disparities between the North and South of England.

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.


Find Out More

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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£25k – £100k

Microfinance page
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Debt Finance

£100k – £750k

Debt Finance page
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Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Equity Finance page
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