What the North West Fund means for businesses in Lancashire

The North West Fund has been established to assist SMEs in the region to access funding worth between £50,000 and £2 million.

It is operated by six individual fund managers, with each fund targeting a specific sector or stages of a business. The six funds are: Venture Capital, Development Capital, Business Loans, Energy & Environmental, Biomedical and Digital & Creative.

There are certain sectors that cannot be invested in, e.g. retail, agriculture, fisheries, defence and some property development, but hopefully most sectors will be able to benefit.

The fund managers must invest the finances available before the end of 2015 which is a reasonably tight timescale. The fund will be looking to see a return on its investments in order to continue to operate into the future.

I expect the fund to be helpful, and indeed some of the funds have already started to invest. Any additional access to finance in the current climate is to be welcomed, and in this case I hope it will give banks an opportunity to de-risk their position, making funding propositions more attractive for many of them.

As with any funding source there are plenty of conditions to meet: applicants must be SMEs paying business rates in the North West, or relocating to the North West; a new start-up, a growing business or a business with growth potential; or a business unable to source its full funding requirement from the commercial market.

Applying for such funding should not be taken lightly, and while the fund may have its own professional advisers to help steer businesses along the right path, it is always worthwhile seeking independent advice.

We know, for instance, that businesses applying will need at the minimum a business plan, last 3 years accounts and up to date management accounts (if applicable) and 3 year financial forecasts. SMEs interested should be employing less than 250 people, with an annual turnover of less than €50 million.

For more information ask your business adviser or log on to www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk

Tim Mills
Pierce Accountants