A prominent North East business leader is reassuring Northumberland small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that investment funds set aside for the region by the European Investment Bank (EIB), via the North East Fund, are safe, despite concerns surrounding Brexit.
Andrew Mitchell, CEO of The North East Fund Limited, has called on SMEs requiring investment to expand or develop new products and services to continue with growth plans, seek advice and realise their full potential given that the £120million of investment agreed for the area over the next five years is protected.
The funding available to certain businesses in the region covering Northumberland, Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle, Durham, North Tyneside and South Tyneside will continue to be delivered until 2023, with the potential to build a legacy of £80million in the local economy.
Mr Mitchell said: “Our relationship with the EIB is very strong and due to the joint deal that the two parties brokered for the region, funds outlined for the North East Fund by the EIB will continue to be delivered.
“Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we’re still very much looking to the future.
“This is the second time that the EIB has invested and committed to the region and this demonstrates a high level of confidence in North East-based organisations, especially SMEs.
“EU membership has enabled regional accelerator programmes, and attracted European founders and new talent, but there is also an uncertainty regarding what could replace EIB funding in the future.
“Nobody truly knows what is going to happen after Brexit and speculation, either way, is something which cannot be avoided.
“However, our four fund management companies are now allocating the investment that we have secured.
“From our point of view, supporting trailblazing companies that are innovative, produce market-leading goods and put the region on the map will only encourage new funding opportunities in the future.
“The North East Fund could assist approximately 600 SMEs to support economic growth, employment and generate a good return on investment – money that can be put straight back into the North East economy.”
Established in April 2018, the North East Fund is a suite of five venture capital and loan funds delivering £120million of investment for approximately 600 North East businesses up to March 2023.
Fund managers provide business development advice and investment finance to SMEs based in seven local authority areas.
The programme encourages investment in and the commercialisation of new technologies, including low carbon technologies.
It aims to stimulate new business creation, private investment and entrepreneurialism in the North East with a view to creating more than 2,500 new jobs.
For more details and up-to-date information, go to www.northeastfund.org