First recipients of Regional Growth Fund named

The government has announced the 50 successful first round bids from companies and partnerships which will share in more than £450 million of investment from the Regional Growth Fund.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says conditional allocations have been made to successful bidders and will now be subject to due diligence before funding is distributed.

A total of 464 businesses applied for investment under the bank-backed £1.4 billion fund that has been created to increase enterprise, growth and jobs in the private sector and support regions that are highly dependent on the public sector. The Regional Growth Fund had its first close on January 21, this year.

A panel of ministers, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, selected the winning bids from a list that had been put forward after assessment from an Independent Advisory Panel. Lord Heseltine led the 12-member advisory panel that included venture capitalist Jon Moulton and entrepreneur Caroline Plumb.

The ministers decided to allocate more than £450 million in the maiden round, nearly twice the £250 million originally pegged for investment.

Companies and partnerships in the North East had the highest number of successful bidders, with 14 of the 50 first round recipients located in the region. The North West, which had submitted the most number of applications, follows with nine recipients, and Yorkshire and Humber seven. The South East and East had the lowest success with only one company awarded funding.

Most of the applications (64 per cent) were for finance of between £1 million and £5 million, and the total value of first-round bids was £2.78 billion.

Examples of projects that have been given conditional allocations include the Haribo factory going ahead with planned expansion of its site near Wakefield, and the development of a former eye hospital in Manchester into a biomedical centre of excellence.

Other recipients include General Motors, which recently announced that the next generation Vivaro van will be built at its plant in Luton, and Lotte Chemical, which will construct a manufacturing plant in Teesside to develop resins for food and drink packaging.

Clegg comments that the Government expects more than 27,000 jobs to be ‘directly created and safeguarded’ by the fund investments.

He adds, ‘I was bowled over by the quality of the bids. This money will now help create and safeguard jobs in some of the communities worst hit by the economic downturn.

‘Today is a step towards rebalancing our economy away from an unhealthy over reliance on a small number of industries and a few areas. We need to spread opportunity across the whole country, drawing on our many talents.’

A second round for fund investment has been opened. The closing date for bids is noon on 1 July, this year. Clegg says there may be a further smaller round if unallocated funds remain after rounds one and two.

Read the full list of companies and partnerships here.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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