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Enterprise Ventures, which provides equity and debt finance for SMEs, invested £14.6m in the six months to the end of June 2014 – up from £11.4m in the same period last year.

The number of transactions also rose from 96 to 105. The figures represent a record first half for Enterprise Ventures, which is one of the UK’s most active private equity investors according to the number of deals it completes.

Key deals during the first half included a £2.5m investment in Winning Pitch, the national coaching and business support specialist; and a £750,000 investment in DataCentred, which is launching a series of datacentres in the North and which is led by Telecity founder Dr Mike Kelly.

It also saw the flotation of one of its longstanding investments – the Barnsley-based cleaning technology company Xeros – although it has maintained its shareholding in the business.

Other events during the first half of 2014 included the launch of Enterprise Ventures’ new office on Liverpool Waterfront to strengthen its presence in Merseyside.

Enterprise Ventures manages 14 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.

Chief Executive Jonathan Diggines said: “We are seeing increased demand for funding as business confidence begins to rise. However the funding landscape has changed for good since the downturn began six years ago. Since then the banks have had a much reduced appetite for SME lending and a whole new generation of small businesses have come of age without being able to rely on their backing.

“Enterprise Ventures and other SME investors have played an important role in supporting these new businesses with finance and expertise. Small businesses are the engine of our economy – providing them with access to investment is vital to create jobs and generate wealth within local economies.”