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04 May 2012

Andy Leach, CEO NWBF

A great start to 2012 - and there's more to come...

Andy Odgers

We started 2012 in an optimistic frame of mind about the year ahead. Yet the deals already completed by our six fund managers have surpassed those expectations and the first quarter of this year has been by far and away The North West Fund's busiest-ever quarter for new investment.

The numbers speak for themselves. In the first three months of 2012 we invested £9.6million in 30 North West businesses, equating to 88% of the amount invested in the whole of 2011 - a 3.8 times increase in investment run-rate. So, in total, our fund managers have now invested £20.5million in more than 80 businesses which with the £18.6million of private sector co-funding that this has helped secure, has enabled these businesses to raise over £39m of funding to support their growth plans.

It is satisfying that each sub-fund increased its investment portfolio during the quarter and, as a whole, completed a broad range of deals of varying sizes supporting a healthy cross section of growing businesses in a variety of locations and sectors.

Key deals completed during the quarter included:

  • A £120,000 loan from The North West Fund for Business Loans to finance the expansion of Maghull-based Control Valve Solutions.
  • The investment by The North West Fund for Venture Capital into Liverpool Science Park-based software developer ScraperWiki. 
  • A £950,000 investment into Zutux, a bespoke furniture manufacturer, by The North West Fund for Development Capital. 
  • An investment into Imperative Energy by The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental which saw the business move from Ireland to Sandbach, Cheshire. 
  • A pathfinder investment from The North West Fund for Biomedical into Manchester-based Rapid Rhythm, a collaboration between its founders, TrusTech Ventures and the Manchester NHS Trust, which has developed a hand held device to enable the rapid diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation. 
  • A six-figure follow-on investment into Lancaster-based advertising business Azullo by The North West Fund for Digital & Creative.

The outlook for Quarter 2 is equally positive with a number of SMEs already having received funding and many more in the pipeline.  During April our  Business Loans Fund  provided Preston-based Garrick Surface Coatings with a £180,000 loan; our Venture Capital  Fund invested £400,000 into Manchester-based online payment provider, App55; The Digital & Creative Fund has taken a minority stake in a Liverpool publishing business; and the Energy & Environmental Fund made a significant £500,000 investment into Cumbrian-based Ecologicliving, a leading reseller and installer of renewable energy, heat and power generation technologies.  

We feel that we have already energised many North West entrepreneurs to apply for the funding they need to push their businesses on to the next level and I am excited by the prospect of inspiring many more as we go forward. Our investments are helping companies create jobs and growth. Here in The North West Fund newsletter we want to celebrate that by highlighting some of the success stories with which we are associated. In this edition you can read about the fund managers recent deal highlights; Penny Attridge our manager at The North West Fund for Biomedical speaks about her recent visit to Downing Street; and Roger Butterworth talks about his experience in partnering with The North West Fund for Development Capital to support the growth plans of Salford-based Zutux.

But, we are not resting on our laurels and recognise that, there is much work to be done in the rest of 2012 and beyond if we are to invest the whole of The North West Fund's capital for the benefit of the North West. Our pipeline is filling and our fund managers are working flat-out to complete the investment in the businesses that you will read about in our summer newsletter. We know that the momentum of the last quarter must be built on if we are to maximise our impact on the North West's economy.

With that in mind, we are continuing our hectic schedule of events around the region and I would draw your attention to our partnership with the Institute of Directors (IoD), where we have teamed up with IoD North West and other business organisations to run a series of breakfast networking events across the North West over the coming months. These will feature some inspiring speakers who will offer tips and their real-life experience of 'making it' as entrepreneurs.  If you would like to find out more please keep an eye on the web site for details of these and other events you can find us at in the coming months.

Enjoy the newsletter.

AL Signature

Andy Leach

Chief Executive, North West Business Finance Ltd

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