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Focus On: South Yorkshire's Digital Industries

Published: March 2006

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John Draper, Managing Director of software firm Safe Technology Ltd

South Yorkshire Investment Fund, which provides loans and equity investments ranging from £15,000 to £2.5m to small and medium businesses in South Yorkshire, has launched a new programme concentrated on supporting the region's digital and creative industries.

The Fund, based in Rotherham, has recognised that South Yorkshire's digital and creative industries including computer games developers, new media agencies, software companies and the Arts will be key growth areas for the region.

Tony Goulbourn, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd, said: "Most commentators now regard the digital sector as one ripe for growth over the next ten years. The graduates emerging from the region's universities and colleges are happy to embrace the South Yorkshire's culture of enterprise that their predecessors previously ignored. As a commercial fund we are keen to talk to these emerging companies - whether they be well established business or start-ups to consider potential investment opportunities."

The success of Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter, the E-Campus and the digital quarter centred around the Workstation in Sheffield as well as other initiatives in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham underscore how successful the digital sector has been in establishing itself in a region previously dominated by traditional, but declining industries.

The Fund is seeking to invest between £15,000 and £ 50,000 in start up or early stage digital and creative companies which have a credible business plan and sound management. For established profitable businesses the Fund can consider loans of up to £150,000.

One innovative business to benefit from a £30,000 loan from the Fund is Safe Technology Ltd, based in Sheffield. It designs software for forecasting the lifespan of metal parts and components. Its systems and expertise are widely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive and the medical sector. Founded in 1987 by Managing
Director John Draper, Safe Technology exports more than 80% of its products, mainly to the US.

Mr Draper explained: "Our systems and technology play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of metal components in a range of industries and we have developed a world-wide market for them. This is the second investment in our company by SYIF who have been very supportive and have helped us to achieve our export potential."

A unique feature of the Fund is its Mentorbank which provides mentoring support to help management teams grow their businesses. We help by introducing mentors or non-executive directors who can give invaluable help and advice.

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).