A North East investment fund has delivered more than £400m of benefits to the regional economy.
The Finance for Business North East (FFBNE) fund – also known as the JEREMIE programme – was launched in 2010 to increase levels of entrepreneurship and drive the growth of local companies.
Since then it has provided around £160m of debt and equity funding to 937 local firms and delivered almost £250m of additional private investment into those businesses – taking the total investment figure well over the £400m mark.
Not only has that boosted the growth of these companies and others in their supply chains, it has also helped to paint a brighter employment picture in the North East. More than 3,350 new jobs have been created and some 3,600 roles safeguarded, with additional wealth and jobs set to be generated as a result of investments made by the fund.
Andrew Mitchell, chief executive at North East Finance – which manages FFBNE – said: “This programme has generated huge benefits for North East SMEs, as these numbers demonstrate. Whilst the programme has assisted many companies on an individual basis, the wider collateral benefits have also been significant.
“The programme has helped to revitalise growth in key industry sectors, strengthened the region’s advisory firms, bolstered the North East’s business angel community and provided investment for innovative firms spinning out of our universities.”
Backed by cash from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), FFBNE consists of seven funds that have helped SMEs at various stages of their development. Some have used the investment to test and develop a proof of concept, while others have secured a significant cash injection to fast-track their expansion plans.
The programme has received backing from several high-profile business leaders and organisations, including the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and the North East England Chamber of Commerce (NECC).
Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East LEP, said: “FFBNE has been the catalyst for business growth and the creation of more and better jobs, which is exactly what the region needs as we seek to build a dynamic, entrepreneurial economy for the future. The programme has driven investment into the North East and provided vital funds that have enabled companies to expand and boost their competitiveness.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of NECC, said: “The FFBNE fund has achieved so much across the North East and successfully supported so many businesses. It gives ample opportunity to strengthen many of our region’s key sectors and businesses of all sizes.”
Beneficiaries of the fund include digital marketing specialist Roxoa Group, which has boosted sales after securing a six-figure investment from FW Capital through the FFBNE Growth Plus Fund.
Meanwhile, an innovative cold brew coffee specialist is gearing up for major expansion after securing a £25,000 loan from the FFBNE Microloan Fund. Point Blank Cold Brew is hoping to ramp up sales of its energy drink and, having recently completed 12 months of consumer trials in the UK, is now attracting attention from national retailers, athletes, celebrities, customers, investors and key industry players.