As UK Steel Enterprise celebrated the significant milestone of providing £100m of financial support to UK companies recently, more than 1,440 businesses across the North had reason to mark the occasion too.
UKSE has now ploughed more than £22.5m of investment into 1,441 businesses in Tees Valley, Derwentside and West Cumbria alone, helping them to create 17,518 jobs. A further £12m has gone into two purpose- built Innovation Centres on Teesside where 80 growing businesses, involved in every sector from construction and engineering to software and finance are currently based.
The six-strong UKSE team in the Northern region, led by Area Manager Sarah Thorpe, supports businesses in many sectors with a range of equity and loan packages of up to £1m, helping companies looking for working capital, funding for a re-location, larger premises, new equipment and machinery or for a MBO.
“We don’t look for quick or excessive returns and our equity finance gives us a minority stake but leaves control with the business,” she said. “Loans start from £25,000, are often unsecured with fixed interest rates and our Regeneration Fund backs early-stage businesses that may need just a few thousand pounds at a vital stage. The fact that we a not-for- profit organisation often gives us additional flexibility.
“There is such commitment in this region from businesses and entrepreneurs. It has always been important to us to maintain an ongoing relationship with other investors and the business, financial and legal advisers working on-the-ground with businesses in our region. That co-operation and partnership brings major benefits, not only to the individual companies that we are all aiming to support, but also to the growth of the region’s economy.”
UKSE-backed companies in the Northern region include contract chemical processing firm Exwold Technology; Micropore Technologies, recently helped with a third investment to meet growing demand for its innovative chemicals technology; J & B Recycling ; Hart Biologicals; Animmersion, part of Middlesbrough’s burgeoning digital hi-tech sector and Covol Engineering.
Newer businesses such as Orangebox Training, expanding its government-funded training work and contracts abroad; Hainton Recruitment Group who moved into much-needed larger offices and Calder’s Kitchen, developing new markets for its range of piccalillis, have all secured backing.
Area Manager Sarah Thorpe brought wide expertise in portfolio management, business planning and strategy, start-ups, funding and preparing businesses for investment to UKSE when she joined in 2013.
Business Development Manager Peter Taylor, a chartered accountant and financial analyst who joined UKSE in 2012, said “We look for companies and projects that have a well-thought out business plan, a strong management team and demonstrate real potential for growth. Our aim is not only to deliver a financial package tailored to their business but also be a source of support, experience and independent advice.”