NEL fund managers have poured £10m into growing businesses across the North East in the first few years of a major five-year capital investment programme.
The investment firm has reached the halfway point in a £20m funding initiative which has been made available to companies through its Finance For Business North East Growth Fund.
The milestone was reached thanks to a £150,000 investment in Hexham- based import and wholesale business Amitex LED Lighting Co Ltd, which is using the capital to expand its operations right across the UK. NEL has made 54 investments from the Growth Fund so far, with an average value of £185,000.
The company also has a significant number of other applications at different stages of the assessment process, and the rate of inquiries received about the Growth Fund remains high.
Launched in March 2010, the Growth Fund is aimed at regional businesses at a development and growth stage, and was set up with a view to creating 1,500 new jobs in the North East, as well as helping to safeguard a further 1,300 jobs.
Managed by North East Finance, it will see £125m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2007-13 over a five-year period.
NEL is looking to make around 130 investments over the fund’s five-year life span, and is actively looking to speak to more companies with robust business plans.
Barrie Hensby, chief executive at NEL, said: “Given the fact that there is always a bedding-in period with any fund in the first few months after launch, the fact that we’ve now invested over half of the Growth Fund in almost exactly half its life-span is extremely encouraging, and also provides a strong testament to the skills and tenacity of the NEL team.
“No matter whether the prevailing economic climate is strong or weak, there’s never been any lack of ideas and ambition within the North East business community, a fact which is clearly demonstrated by the breadth of industries in which we’ve made Growth Fund investments so far.
“The region’s professional services community has played an important role in identifying investment opportunities for their clients and working with us to make them happen, and their entrepreneurial approach and commercial awareness makes a big difference to the investment process.
“NEL investments are already backing dozens of successful companies who are trading strongly and expanding despite the wider economic situation, and we’d very much encourage business managers to look at the development options that the Growth Fund might also facilitate for them.”
The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into the region to support innovation, enterprise and business support.