A £10M finance pot has helped nearly 50 businesses strengthen their market presence since its formation just 12 months ago, it has been revealed.

Bosses say the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), made by fund manager FW Capital, has made a huge difference to companies.

According to latest figures, it has backed 45 small and medium-sized firms, with officials keen to add to the tally.

The cash pot gives businesses access to capital they need to realise growth plans, with amounts ranging from £100,000 to £750,000 used on equipment, premises, staff, systems and products.

The loans have helped companies including Darlingtonbased Myco Foods and engineer Enex Group, which is based on the banks of the River Tees at Port Clarence and known for supplying safety interlocks to the oil and gas sector. Energy consultancy Cenergist also used a £515,000 loan to set up an office in Billingham, near Stockton, and recruit staff.

Joanne Whitfield, fund manager looking after deals across the Tees Valley, said: “We’re delighted to have passed the £10m mark in under a year.”