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

18th January 2021

NPIF: Support for Northern business will continue


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Sean Hutchinson at the British Business Bank, says with renewed national lockdown restrictions bringing about a turbulent start to the year, many businesses across the North will be once again reviewing their option:

With renewed national lockdown restrictions bringing about a turbulent start to the year, many businesses across the North will be once again reviewing their options.

In 2020, through various regional tiers and national lockdowns, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund  supported businesses of all shapes and sectors across the North and will continue to do so. Working with our fund managers across the North, we have already provided over 250 NPIF investments and loans since the pandemic started in March 2020. Many of the NPIF loans have been backed by the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and our Equity funds are making good use of the Government’s Future Fund programme.

NPIF will continue to support businesses across the North with an ambition to grow, including those impacted by the pandemic, and we are here to help through our various funding options.

1.    Debt Finance – Providing business loans from £100,000 up to £750,000, debt finance is an important option for businesses looking to grow, whether that’s through taking on new staff, moving premises or investing in research and development.

In many cases over the past year, NPIF’s Debt Finance has been a    valuable tool for businesses looking to develop new products and services, or shift business models, as they seek to adapt to new challenges caused by  Covid-19.

Take Workforce People Solutions in Bolton as an example, with the specialist recruitment firm securing a £500,000 loan towards the latter end of 2020. Since then, it has since launched an entirely new technology division, Workforce Digital, responding to an increased demand for tech talent due to remote working. As a result, the business has seen a 20 per cent uplift in staff since start of the first lockdown and is continuing on its growth journey.

2.    Microfinance – Suitable for early-stage and more established businesses, NPIF Microfinance offers loans from £25,000 up to £100,000 and is available for a wide range of purposes, such as  filling gaps in growth capital, funding expansion projects, leasing commercial premises, asset acquisitions and bringing product conceptions to market.

In a similar fashion to NPIF’s Debt Finance, these smaller loans have    proven decisive for businesses looking to expand or adjust service lines.

Lancashire-based Interefurb Limited for instance received a £50,000 early on in the year and were quickly able to generate new business as a result.

In Q2 of 2020, the Congleton-based refurbishment company enjoyed a record quarter, with revenues equivalent to the entirety of 2019.

3.    Equity Finance – Designed to support innovative and fast-growing businesses of all sizes, NPIF Equity Finance ranges from £50,000 up to £2m. It is primarily aimed towards those looking to grow at a rate that typically cannot be supported through borrowing, which will tend to be linked to the ability to service debt from existing cash flows.

Throughout the last 12 months, we have seen NPIF portfolio businesses utilising NPIF Equity Finance to great effect, such as lateral flow diagnostics company Abingdon Health. In response to the pandemic, the company leveraged investment from NPIF to develop and manufacture an antibody test for COVID-19, indicating whether a person is generating antibodies linked to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In December, the business took its next step and successfully raised £22million following admission to the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.

Whilst it will undoubtedly be another particularly challenging time for businesses across the North, it is important to keep in mind what options are out there for you and your business. Making full use of the government schemes you are eligible for and keeping in mind the funding options from NPIF could make all the difference in 2021.

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

To date, NPIF has made 957 investments at a total of £208m into 756 SMEs. This attracted an additional £237m of private sector investment.

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

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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