Mercia – the investment group which opened its first office in the North-East last August – invested £3.2m in businesses in the region in 2018.

Mercia made investments in nine North-East companies during the year including North Tyneside-based health and safety software firm Notify Technology, Newcastle-headquartered energy benchmarking business Troo, Sunderland-based recruitment tech firm Technically Compatible, IBEX Innovations of County Durham, which is developing improved X-ray systems, Darlington-based Laytrix, which has developed a new system for laying pipe and cables offshore and CRESS Systems which provides energy storage systems for industry.

Mercia opened its Newcastle office following its appointment as fund manager for the £27m North-East Venture Fund, which provides investment for SMEs across Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Mercia also manages part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund which provides funding for Tees Valley SMEs.

The group now has more than £400m of third party funds under management, up from £350m at the end of 2017. Growing by about 30 per cent a year, Mercia has more than 80 employees in eight locations nationwide and partnerships with 19 regional universities.

According to recent reports, Mercia is one of the top four investors in university spinout businesses and one of the UK’s top four most active venture capitalists specifically focused on innovation.

In a recent survey among its portfolio companies, 84 per cent of respondents said they were likely to recommend Mercia to other entrepreneurs, with 75 per cent having already done so.

Ian Wilson, who leads the North East office, said: “Mercia has a strong track record for supporting regional SMEs and the North East office has got off to a promising start with a series of investments in high-potential businesses. We will continue to build our presence and look forward to supporting more emerging stars in the region in the year ahead.”