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Minister announces new Co-Fund NI funding of over £16m to support local SMEs

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, has today announced that Co-investment Fund (Co-Fund) NI is receiving additional funding of over £16million to support Northern Ireland SMEs.

Co-Fund NI is an equity fund managed by Clarendon Fund Managers. It provides growth capital to early stage, high growth potential SMEs alongside lead private investors. The additional £16million funding is a combined investment between Invest Northern Ireland and the Regional Angels Programme delivered by British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank.

Making the announcement, the Minister said: “Local SMEs are the backbone of our economy and it is important that they can secure funding to grow. Co-Fund NI has been very successful in helping them to do this. Since 2011, it has supported over 70 companies, with over £29million of Invest NI funding and leveraging over £66million of private sector funds.

The additional £16million funding will inject further investment capital into the Northern Ireland economy. The increase is expected to directly leverage additional funding of more than £20million from private investors over the next three years, opening up new growth opportunities for local businesses.”

Invest NI has provided £6.1million towards the funding uplift. British Business Investments has also committed £10million through its Regional Angels Programme.

Kevin Holland, Invest NI’s CEO, said: “Co-Fund NI is one of 5 funds in our Access to Finance portfolio. It specifically provides support to early stage, high potential start-up companies. This combined funding will have a significant impact on the Northern Ireland economy at a critical time for high growth potential SMEs.

“We have committed over £6million to increase the fund and provide more businesses with the opportunity to get their innovative ideas out of the starting blocks. By securing further funding from British Business Investments Co-Fund NI will be able to support more companies to achieve their goals. Investments have already begun, with £2.5million invested across six early-stage and existing Co-Fund NI portfolio companies; Concept Apps, Sustain IQ, Respiratory Analytics, Cirdan Imaging, Axial3D and B-Secur.”

Judith Hartley, CEO, British Business Investments, said: “Our Regional Angels Programme is designed to address imbalances in access to early-stage capital across the UK. This £10million commitment to Co-Fund NI is the programme’s first commitment in Northern Ireland, and will help provide long-term capital to smaller businesses with high growth potential. To date, British Business Investments has committed £65million through the Regional Angels Programme, providing early-stage capital to over 100 high growth smaller businesses across the UK.”

Co-Fund NI is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance suite of loan and equity funds. The fund can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £150,000 and £2million and up to £1.75million over a series of investment rounds.

Brian Cummings, Investment Director, Clarendon Fund Managers, said: “As we approach our 20th year of investing in Northern Ireland’s high growth potential business community, we are delighted to build on Invest NI’s Co-Fund NI programme by welcoming BBI as a new investment partner. This allows us to make more funding available to co-invest alongside business angels and other private investors providing companies with a strong mix of funding and expertise to accelerate businesses growth.”

Invest NI’s support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.