Business

Additional funding announced for Co-fund NI

Co-Fund NI typically provides co-investment in deals valued between £150,000 and £2m.
Ryan McAleer

AN equity fund to support business growth in the north has been topped up with £16 million.

Co-Fund NI is to receive an additional £6.1m from Invest NI with British Business Investments, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank, committing £10m through its Regional Angels Programme.

Managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, Co-Fund NI offers growth capital to early stage, high growth potential small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

It typically provides co-investment in deals valued between £150,000 and £2m.

Around a third of the support is provided by Invest NI, with private capital making up the rest.

Invest NI has provided £29m to more than 70 companies since 2011, with £66m sourced from the private sector.

Part of that support is sourced from the European Regional Development Fund.

The announcement comes just one day after a new report from the Ulster University Business School and the Federation of Small Businesses called for a step change in the approach to business creation in the north.

The analysis found that significant government funding to support business in Northern Ireland has had no meaningful effect on the rate of start-ups when compared with the rest of the UK,

The economic support body’s chief executive, Kevin Holland, said £2.5m from the fund had recently been invested in six companies; Concept Apps, Sustain IQ, Respiratory Analytics, Cirdan Imaging, Axial3D and B-Secur.”

He said the additional £16m will have a significant impact on the north’s economy at a critical time for high growth potential SMEs.

“We have committed over £6m to increase the fund and provide more businesses with the opportunity to get their innovative ideas out of the starting blocks.

“By securing further funding from British Business Investments, Co-Fund NI will be able to support more companies to achieve their goals.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “The additional £16m funding will inject further investment capital into the Northern Ireland economy.

“The increase is expected to directly leverage additional funding of more than £20m from private investors over the next three years, opening up new growth opportunities for local businesses.”

British Business Investments’ chief executive, Judith Hartley, said: “Our Regional Angels Programme is designed to address imbalances in access to early-stage capital across the UK.

This £10m commitment to Co-Fund NI is the programme’s first commitment in Northern Ireland, and will help provide long-term capital to smaller businesses with high growth potential.”

Brian Cummings, investment director at Clarendon Fund Managers, added: “As we approach our 20th year of investing in Northern Ireland’s high growth potential business community, we are delighted to build on Invest NI’s Co-Fund NI programme by welcoming BBI as a new investment partner.

“This allows us to make more funding available to co-invest alongside business angels and other private investors providing companies with a strong mix of funding and expertise to accelerate businesses growth.”

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