North East Fund hails strong SME resilience – £50m invested in 100 companies during 2020

Jason Hobbs, CEO North East Fund
Jason Hobbs, CEO of the North East Fund

The North East Fund has announced that during 2020, it helped more than 100 regional companies to raise £50m of funding despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses across Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham received £20m of investment direct from the North East Fund which then helped them to secure a further £30m of finance from other investors.

Many investments were made in companies well placed to grow and create jobs, for example, those operating in the digital services and clean energy technology sectors. Others emerged from R&D projects of existing companies or from research undertaken by North East’s universities.

Additional investments were made in new projects created by entrepreneurs who have sold a business and moved onto their next challenge. Furthermore, North East Fund investee, Refract Software, was acquired by a US company and is now intending to make the Newcastle-based firm its European HQ and create 100 more regional jobs.

Jason Hobbs, CEO of the North East Fund commented, “The region’s SMEs have shown incredible resilience and adaptability as coronavirus impacted every aspect of their operations. Prior to the pandemic, we had invested in around 220 companies which have held up remarkably well, and we provided further funding to some to help manage the impacts of Covid19 and to exploit new opportunities which arose as a result.

“Our fund managers continued to invest in many business and consumer services companies, and manufacturers.  NEL Fund Managers delivered our Growth Capital and Small Loan Funds and continues to provide loans from both under the CBILs scheme where the Government makes the first years’ interest payments to reduce the cost to the SME. Our Small Loan Fund has supported over 100 companies, lending from £10k to £100k for all purposes from improving online systems and business premises to acquiring new equipment.

“Although 2020 was extremely difficult and the challenges from Covid and Brexit will continue into 2021, the tenacity and resilience shown by the North East’s business community this year demonstrates that the region has the ability to overcome adversity and prosper.”

The North East Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and European Investment Bank, expects to invest a further £70m in around 300 more companies over the next few years across Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham.

Free one-to-one information sessions are available to discuss types of funding and business support on offer to SMEs across the region. For more details, please go to

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