A FUNDING scheme designed to boost the growth of companies in County Durham has hit a series of successful milestones.

In the five years since the Finance Durham Fund was established it has made 33 investments – amounting to £10.2m – into 21 companies. This has supported the creation of 224 jobs, safeguarded a further 790 and generated £29.7m of GVA for the local economy.

The funding has also pulled in an additional £34.4m of investment for the companies, giving them the financial muscle to reinvest, create jobs and generate further wealth for the local economy.

Established by Durham County Council in 2017, Finance Durham is an investment fund overseen by Business Durham, the business support service of the council, to help businesses to accelerate growth in the county. It provides debt and equity funding to support businesses of all sizes and from a variety of sectors, and is aimed at companies looking to scale up, create jobs and boost the County Durham economy.

A re-procurement exercise for the fund manager to deliver the fund for the next five years has recently been completed and was won by Maven Capital Partners, reflecting its strong performance in the first five years. Maven’s track record of investments gave the council confidence that this was the right organisation to lead Finance Durham through this next term.

“We’re thrilled to have won the contract to deliver Finance Durham for the next five years. We look forward to helping to deliver this innovative, evergreen fund and to continue to invest and re-invest funds into dynamic, forward-thinking companies across County Durham," said Michael Vassallo, investment director from Maven Capital Partners.

“At the end of these first five years the pipeline of enquiries remains strong. We look forward to the next five years of delivering funding and support directly to local businesses together with Business Durham.”

Set up as an evergreen fund, returns on Finance Durham investments – through loan repayments, interest and capital growth from equity investments – are re-invested to help other businesses to grow.

Earlier this year the fund had its first successful exit from threat intelligence firm Intelligence Fusion via a sale to Sigma7. The company had received investment from Finance Durham to develop its intelligence data feed platform and grow the business from a handful of staff to over 30 employees. The exit provided a profitable return for the fund.

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Commenting on the acquisition, Michael McCabe, CEO of Intelligence Fusion, said: “When I founded Intelligence Fusion it was a new type of tech business in the North-East and Finance Durham gave us the financial backing, alongside our other investors, to realise my vision. The company was built primarily using local talent, however we have recruited staff from around the world who have come to live and settle in Durham. An exciting part of this acquisition is Sigma7’s plans for investing in the expansion of Intelligence Fusion’s team and capabilities in Durham, as well as expanding our operations into the United States and elsewhere.”

The fund has provided finance to a wide variety of companies from low-cost, low-weight solar film innovator Power Roll Ltd to door set manufacturer and distributor, Conduit Construction Network, and shower designer and manufacturer, Roman.

Don Scott, chief commercial officer at Power Roll, said: “We have appreciated the support we have received from Finance Durham as we scale-up the manufacturing processes for our unique solar film. We have used some of the funding to expand our team here at Jade Business Park and we look forward to working with Finance Durham as we execute our growth plans over the coming years.”

As well as providing investment funding, a key aim of Finance Durham is to increase local companies’ capabilities and skills to be able to raise and use finance to support their business growth from Finance Durham and beyond.

In the first five years of the fund Maven held one-to-one meetings with more than 350 businesses and will continue to look at how this can be developed further.

Cllr James Rowlandson, cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted at what has been achieved through the Finance Durham Fund in its first five years.

“We have invested in excess of £10m in more than 20 businesses across our communities and in sectors and technologies that are at the forefront of change or that add to the county’s capabilities to attract even more investment.

“Indeed, the money we have given out so far has enabled investment of more than £30m in the county and this has, in turn, supported the creation of more than 200 jobs and safeguarded nearly 800 more.

“It is clear to see the vital role the fund plays in developing our economy, with this recognised by it being named as a key project within our new Inclusive Economic Strategy.

“We are very excited at what the next five years of Finance Durham can bring.”

To find out how to apply to the Finance Durham fund visit www.financedurham.co.uk