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19 September 2011

Growth Ambitions

Andy Leach CEO North West Business Finance



Andy Leach

As we all settle back into work after summer, I am delighted to welcome you to the first edition of The North West Fund News, and to update you on the progress of the Fund so far.


When we opened for applications just before Christmas 2010, it put an end to two years of anticipation and speculation about the UK's largest JEREMIE fund, which is financed jointly by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.


By the end of August 2011, we had received well over 1,000 applications for almost £400m of funding- a figure that reflects the funding gap that exists across the North West for investment of between £50k and £2m. To date, 31 investments have completed.  A really pleasing feature of this is that, after an initial burst of applications, interest continues to grow and build. I am hopeful that as more investments are completed and publicised, demand will increase further as the ambition of our SMEs and entrepreneurs is stimulated.


So with a successful first eight months under our belts, what does the remainder of 2011 hold in store for The North West Fund?


All three of our sector funds - biomedical, energy and environmental, and digital and creative - are performing strongly. And of our non-sector specific funds, the business loans and venture funds are the busiest, with several investments apiece already completed.


But the objectives of The North West Fund are not focused solely on supporting young, early stage businesses. We want to build a diverse portfolio that represents a true cross-section of the North West economy and includes many established businesses with, perhaps, more modest (yet equally deserving) growth opportunities and ambition.


One of the ways in which we hope to achieve this is by working more closely with banks, intermediaries and organisations that advise established growing businesses.


Later in this edition, when we put The North West Fund for Development Capital under the spotlight, Simon Cleaver from YFM Equity Partners explains when and where The North West Fund working in conjunction with the banks is often the best funding option for SMEs.


Also in this issue, you will find a fascinating interview with one of our first portfolio companies, Power Vision; an update on investments completed across the Fund to date; and a whirlwind insight into our burgeoning conference speaking careers!


My over-riding conclusion eight months into the life of the Fund is that our timing and structure could not be better - the need and opportunity have been firmly established and our delivery "mechanisms" are now moving into top gear.  With £185m of funding, plus the potential of a further £200m in co-investment, at a critical time, the challenge to North West SMEs, business people, entrepreneurs, advisors and support organisations is to make sure that it is invested in strong growth opportunities.


With the chance to create value for shareholders and deliver employment, skills, prosperity and a legacy for the North West, we should be privileged that arguably the largest fund of its type in Europe has been entrusted to the North West - let's make sure we use it well.


We hope that you enjoy this issue of The North West Fund News, and would welcome your feedback on items you would like to see in the subsequent editions.


So, if you are a business owner and are looking for funding to support your growth ambitions, or a banker or adviser that would like us to look at a proposition, find out more and get in touch with our fund managers at www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk.


Best wishes for a prosperous autumn,


Andy Leach

CEO, North West Business Finance

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