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Helping boost businesses – and regeneration

Published: 24th November 2005

Tony Goulbourn, pictured, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd, looks at how private and public sector funding can help boost business and aid regeneration.

As you drive across the South Yorkshire region there is one thing that is plain to see… regeneration and growth.

Cranes dominate the skyline of Sheffield and the other key communities of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham are being transformed before everyone’s eyes.

It is the proof, if ever it was required, that business & economic success in the area is gaining a remarkable momentum. The South Yorkshire Investment Fund supports this growth providing a helping hand to businesses when they most need the financial boost.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund has gone from strength to strength, providing investments and money with management – amounting to almost £20m. The Fund will continue to grow with the market and the economy. It is a ten-year fund – with its investment period closing at the end 2008. When we look at the businesses we have invested in, we can see it is helping them to grow: increasing turnover and profitability, and consolidating or improving levels of employment. More than this it is supporting the critical level of innovation and enterprise which will make or break the momentum of growth in the region.

Consequently, with the end of the investment period in sight the South Yorkshire Investment Fund is now planning for a Successor Fund. The basic idea is to run a similar, but more focused fund using further European funds which should be available from 2007 and use this to lever private sector finance, in the same way as the current fund.

Successor Funds are already successfully up and running in other areas, such as Merseyside and Wales. Economic impacts of such funds can only be truly measured in the very long term and we will await results from these areas, but the general perspective has been that creating sustainable financial funds, focused at local business growth issues, is the best way of developing financial support for businesses.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund is currently gearing up to celebrate its 4th anniversary – and the third birthday of its first deal. Since its launch the Fund has invested £15.2 million in 134 businesses – including £8.69 m of investments in Sheffield alone.

We’ve also:

  • Created or safeguarded 3,044 jobs in the region.
  • Assisted 229 small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • Helped 42 business startups

We are proud of our impressive statistics – they are clear indicators of how we are helping drive the region’s economy further forward.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund was created as part of the Objective 1 programme to back South Yorkshire businesses going through critical stages of growth. It is funded by the private, including the South Yorkshire Pension and the the Doncaster Enterprise Agency (DonBAC) and public sector, including the European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward.

The Fund provide loans and equity investments ranging from £15k to £2.5m to businesses in, or prepared to relocate to, South Yorkshire. A key main factor is the securing or creating more jobs.

During our current financial year our aim is to assist a further 102 businesses – and create and safeguard even more jobs.

One way we intend to do this is by aiming to attract businesses who are already located in the former coalfield areas. We have already launched a special offer (offer now ended) with an effective interest rate of 0% for the first 12 months on selected loans for such businesses.

A unique feature of the way the Fund can help businesses is the Mentorbank project. This realises the original dream of providing not only investment, but providing subsidised mentoring support to help management teams grow their business more profitably. Mentorbank has developed a database of over 450 experienced business people drawn from across the UK. To date we have placed around 168 mentors in businesses – who are helping fill a particular skill shortage in the company they are allocated to.

Besides this, SYIF is also a founding member of Pro-South Yorkshire – an initiative aimed at raising the profile and prominence of businesses from the professional and financial services sectors. This initiative has started to have an impact by providing the first steps towards more collaboration in the sector with the goal of raising the positive profile of the excellent services available and winning more business for the region. These goals rely much on the ability of the market to grow, but do also depend on developing active business networks, for example between the inward investment agencies and between the Universities. The next year will provide a test for ProSY to make some real benefits for its members – most of us involved are confident it will.

It completes the package by which South Yorkshire Investment Fund can help boost business and aid regeneration.

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).