Home | News and features | News | 2010 | 201210 North West

The £185m North West Fund goes live

North West Business Finance Ltd (NWBF) with support from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank is today (20th December 2010) ready to make investments from The North West Fund.

The North West Fund is a new £185m evergreen fund for Northwest businesses (previously known as the Venture Capital and Loan Fund or VCLF) and is one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK. Between 2010 and 2015 the Fund is expected to create/safeguard almost 14,000 jobs and improve the economic performance of England’s Northwest with an estimated GVA increase of £700m.

The North West Fund is the umbrella name for the 6 funds that are now available to Northwest businesses in the form of debt, equity and quasi-equity. These funds are managed by 6 fund managers under contract with NWBF. NWBF oversees the delivery of the Fund, under the European Investment Bank’s Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) Initiative, in England’s Northwest.

Initially, £170m of The North West Fund will be allocated to the 6 Fund Managers, The Fund Managers then have a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, before 31st December 2015. The £15m remaining will be available for further allocation and investment through to the end of 2015. Such further allocations will be made as investment needs become more apparent.

The 6 funds and fund managers are:

  • Development Capital Fund
    Committed: £45m
    Manager: YFM Private Equity
  • Business Loan Fund
    Committed: £35m
    Manager: FW Capital Ltd
  • Venture Capital Fund
    Committed: £30m
    Manager: Enterprise Ventures Ltd
  • Biomedical Fund
    Committed: £25m
    Manager: Spark Impact Ltd
  • Energy & Environmental Fund
    Committed: £20m
    Manager: CT Investment Partners LLP
  • Digital & Creative Fund
    Committed: £15m
    Manager: AXM Venture Capital Ltd

The North West Fund is made up of a £92.4m ERDF grant, making it the biggest ERDF project of the 2007-13 programme, and a £92.4m loan from the EIB. In addition to this funding, the 6 Fund Managers appointed, have been targeted with securing over £200m of co-investment capital from a wide range of sources including; finance angels, banks, pension funds, venture capital, private equity investors, and other private funds. It is expected that this initiative will generate total funding in excess of £400m.

In total, the fund managers will operate 13 offices across the Northwest and, at peak, are expected to employ 48 (FTE) professional staff based in the region focused on deploying and managing The North West Fund.

Andy Leach, Chief Executive Officer, NWBF:

"I am delighted that I can, at last, confirm that The North West Fund is open for business. Whilst it has taken longer than expected to establish, I believe that The North West Fund is now in a position to provide investment capital to a range of businesses across the region at a critical time. This funding will allow these businesses to deliver their own growth plans in, what continue to be, challenging economic times when the availability of alternative funding remains tight.

"Having worked closely with our six Fund Managers over recent months, I am confident that they have the requisite expertise and understanding of the region and their targeted sectors, to ensure that The North West Fund delivers an enduring legacy."

Over the past 2 years the NWDA has led the development and creation of The North West Fund from drawing-board to launch and will continue to support it until the closure of the Agency in March 2012.

Robert Hough, Chairman, NWDA:

"The combination of the Agency’s expertise and knowledge has delivered a significant evergreen fund which will help hundreds of businesses to grow and is one of the major legacy projects the Agency is leaving for the region.

"The NWDA has worked extremely hard on this complex project over many months with various bodies in the UK and Europe to secure this vital fund for the Northwest. The North West Fund is an important initiative that will leverage hundreds of millions of pounds of private sector investment and, as an evergreen fund, will benefit businesses in our region for many years to come."

Simon Brooks, Vice President responsible for the United Kingdom, European Investment Bank:

"The European Investment Bank is pleased to support this flagship SME finance initiative to benefit companies across the North West. Supporting small and medium sized companies is a key priority for the EIB and the Jeremie initiative is one of the pillars for this role in the UK."

Liz Meek, Chair, ERDF Programme Monitoring Committee:

"It’s really important that business has access to this kind of support and I’m delighted that The Fund is now up and running. Along with initiatives like the Regional Growth Fund, The North West Fund will give the private sector, and especially small and growing businesses, the help it needs at a time when help is needed most."

Mark Prisk, Business Minister:

"It’s great news that The North West Fund is now open for business and ready to start investing. Along with the Government’s £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund and other economic development initiatives, this fund will play an important role in boosting the prosperity of local businesses; creating new private sector jobs and driving economic growth in communities across the North West."

The North West Fund is now live and applications can be made on-line at www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk. An event to mark the official launch of The North West Fund will take place in the New Year.

NWBF would like to thank legal advisors Mace & Jones, who acted for them in the establishment of The North West Fund.

*The North West Fund for Business Loans has now been replaced by The North West Fund for Loans Plus.

North West Fund Loans Plus