More than 350 businesses from across the South West have already expressed their interest in the new £200 million South West Investment Fund (SWIF) just weeks after its launch.
The government-backed fund, which was unveiled last month by the British Business Bank, aims to increase the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for new and growing smaller businesses across the region.
It operates throughout the South West, encompassing Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire.
Since its launch in the first week of July, over 350 businesses have expressed an interest in applying to the fund, and more than 300 delegates have attended a series of regional roadshows explaining what the fund is all about, and how businesses can apply via the fund’s dedicated fund managers.
SWIF offers a diverse range of commercial finance options ranging from small loans from £25,000 to equity investments of £5 million, for companies at all stages of development. It aims to fill the gaps in available finance options in the South West and empower businesses, both those located in busy hubs and in harder-to-reach locations, to unlock their potential.
Jody Tableporter, Director of UK and Regional Funds at the British Business Bank, said: “We’ve had a great reception to the funds across the South West both at our roadshows and evidenced by the interest we’re seeing from growth-minded businesses across the region.
“Our fund managers are reporting demand at all levels of the fund, from small loans, larger debt and equity finance, and that’s really encouraging. We look forward to announcing our first deals soon.”
One of the SWIF roadshows was held at Exeter Science Park and the keynote speaker was Chloe Vernon-Shore, partner at Michelmores solicitors. She said: “I absolutely think South West businesses are going to welcome the South West Investment Fund. It’s going to offer finance to businesses that might be unable to otherwise access it, and I also think it’s going to shine a huge spotlight on the region and encourage private investment.”
Also attending was Dan Pritchard, co-founder of Tech South West, who said: “This fund can be a catalyst for huge change, not only to unlock those funds into businesses, but all the other things that can then snowball from that in terms of raising the profile of the region and showcasing some of the amazing companies we’ve got across all sectors.
“The right type of funding, at the right time, is essential for businesses and looking at this fund it allows different options for different types of companies, and that is really good. Now we’ve really got to make the opportunity stick.”
And Jane Dumeresque, a non-executive director of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) added: “I think the opportunity of the debt funding and the equity funding is really exciting. The fund is really needed and I’m looking forward to seeing what impact it can have.
“It’s allowing the South West to be more on the map. The South West is often underappreciated, and I think this gives us the opportunity to join up together, to really shout about what we can do. And I think the success of this fund, what it could do for many of our businesses, is going to transformational.”
SWIF is the first in a series of six new Nations and Regions Investment Funds being launched by the British Business Bank, the government-owned business development bank. A total of £1.6 billion has been committed to the new funds to drive sustainable economic growth, which was first announced by the government in the 2021 Spending Review.
SWIF is managed by a team of four fund managers that have been appointed by the British Business Bank including SWIG Finance, FW Capital, Maven and The FSE Group. Applications for funding are made directly to the relevant fund managers who can be contacted via the SWIF website.
Picture note: Left to right – Jody Tableporter, Director of UK and Regional Funds at the British Business Bank, with fund managers Ralph Singleton, from The FSE Group; Rachael Taylor, SWIG Finance; Tim Williams, The FSE Group and Chloe Vernon-Shore, Michelmores solicitors.