Enterprise Ventures, which provides finance for SMEs, enjoyed another record year in 2014, completing 220 deals with a combined value of £30m.
It brings the total invested by the company in the past four years to over £100m. During that time it completed around 780 transactions – equivalent to four deals every working week. The figures highlight Enterprise Ventures’ role in supporting small firms at a time when bank lending has continued to fall and many have witnessed unprecedented difficulties in accessing finance for growth.
According to an independent report compiled during the year, the majority of Enterprise Ventures’ loans and investments have gone into the most deprived regions in the UK. The report by Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, shows that Enterprise Ventures is helping to create a more balanced economy by investing in the regions, concentrating on deprived areas and focusing on priority sectors, such as manufacturing and export.
Key deals during 2014 included a £2.5m investment in Winning Pitch, the coaching and business support specialist; a £750,000 investment in DataCentred, which is led by Telecity founder Dr Mike Kelly and is launching a series of datacentres in the North; and a significant investment in agrochemical business Redag Crop Protection, to allow its demerger from its parent company Redx Pharma. It also supported a £3.2m management buy-in at Modern Rugs in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.
2014 saw the flotation of three of Enterprise Ventures’ portfolio companies – the Barnsley-based cleaning technology company Xeros Technology Group, Manchester-based Premaitha Health, and York-based Optibiotix Health.
Enterprise Ventures, which has offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Dodworth in Yorkshire, manages 18 specially-targeted SME funds raised from the public and private sectors providing venture capital, growth capital and loans. They include The North West Fund for Venture Capital, The North West Fund for Mezzanine, Lancashire’s Rosebud Finance, the Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn Fund and Small Business Loans Fund, and the Coalfields Funds.
Jonathan Diggines, Chief Executive of Enterprise Ventures, said: “The landscape for small business finance has changed for good. Although the economy is recovering, there is no sign of the banks returning to the market. Enterprise Ventures has been playing a key role in supporting small business growth and generating jobs and prosperity in deprived areas.
“The recent Big Issue Invest report has outlined the important part that alternative finance providers can play in rebalancing the UK economy away from London. With devolution now on the agenda, the investment community will be fundamental in helping to realise the vision of a Northern powerhouse.”