Giving SMEs a platform for growth across County Durham

Michael Vassallo
Investment Director at Maven and for the Finance Durham fund

It’s an exciting time for UK SMEs, despite the obvious political and economic uncertainty arising out of Brexit, as the UK’s reputation as a hotbed for innovation continues to offer opportunities for growth and in new markets. Nowhere is that more striking than in the North East and County Durham, which have a rich history of entrepreneurship and more recently in areas like specialist manufacturing, science and technology.

As well as the natural attractions of the region, some of the country’s most dynamic young businesses are developing exciting new ideas and products. However some of those same ambitious small businesses are often still struggling to access the growth finance and strategic support they need to take their products and services to the next level.

Finance Durham
For businesses across County Durham an exciting new funding opportunity is available for growth businesses through the £20m Finance Durham LP fund, announced this month by Business Durham and to be managed by Maven. Business Durham is the economic development company for Durham County Council and has already shown a willingness to support high quality businesses, investing in Atom Bank, Britain’s first digital bank, and pioneering tech business PolyPhotonix which has produced an innovative eye mask to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease for diabetics.

This fund will commence investments from May 2017, to deliver business and economic growth, create thousands of jobs and enhance the skill base across the county. It will invest between £200,000 and £700,000 to support the growth plans of up to 70 SMEs of all sizes (and 10% of the fund can be used to invest up to £40,000 in start-up) and invest in some of the most dynamic industry sectors.

At Maven we’ve been investing in SMEs across the North for almost twenty years, and are very active across the region, so are looking forward to working with some of Durham’s most ambitious companies to develop disruptive technologies, open up new markets or break new ground with their products.

Growth is about more than just funding
County Durham is home to some of the UK’s fastest growing, innovative private companies with impressive potential, but we have worked with enough SMEs to know that taking that next step to be market leading businesses requires more than simply access to funding – it’s also about helping management to bridge the Knowledge Gap.

We’ve worked with the senior management teams of successful companies across the UK as they’ve built their businesses, and they tell us that the real added value in the support of specialist investors like Maven is the way that we provide proactive strategic support after investment, and a level of insight and expertise that they simply don’t have at that stage in their development. It might be access to specific knowledge of product or international markets, within our own team or from our nationwide network of non-executive directors, or simply working with management team to professionalise the business to support fast growth – but the key ingredient is Maven’s understanding of the challenges facing a growing business.

The Opportunity for Durham businesses
The Finance Durham fund can provide the financial resources to back business growth for ambitious companies. If your business is based in County Durham, or you are relocating to the county, it may be eligible for investment.

If you feel it could benefit from equity funding to help achieve your growth ambitions then you can contact Maven's North East team to discuss your business and its plans.

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