Access to Finance - Supporting Business Growth

SMEs are the backbone of our economy providing approximately three quarters of all private sector jobs and turnover. Regardless of size or stage of development, businesses need funding to scale to the next level.

Aimed at ambitious SMEs whose growth is constrained by a lack of traditional finance, Invest NI provides a range of funding solutions under the banner of ‘Access to Finance’.

Totalling almost £170m, there are five funds spanning a deal size range of £10k to £2m and offering support to SMEs across both debt and equity markets.


Access to Finance - Equity Funds and Loan Funds graphic

The funds, which operate on a fully commercial basis, are managed by independent NI based FCA approved fund managers who retain responsibility for all investment decisions. The experienced and knowledgeable fund managers will also offer guidance and mentoring support to help SMEs develop strategies and ultimately unlock the full potential of their business.

Finance for the funds may be provided solely by Invest NI (part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund) or in conjunction with the private sector.

Download our Access to Finance Booklet(PDF) for further details on loan and equity funds currently available.

If you want help to take your business to the next level then don’t hesitate to Contact us


Loan Funding

NI Small Business Loan Fund

Fund Manager: Ulster Community Finance Ltd

An £8m loan fund for Northern Ireland based individuals, private companies and social enterprises in the SME and micro enterprise size range and in the start-up or growth phases of development.  Loans are typically unsecured and range between £10k and £100k (maximum £15K for start-up businesses).

Find out more about the NI Small Business Loan Fund

Videos:

  • Donal Traynor, CEO of Ulster Community Finance Ltd. introduces the NI Small Business Loan Fund
  • John Jameson, MD of iota explains how his company benefited from the NI Small Business Loan Fund

Growth Loan Fund II (ERDF)

Fund Manager: Whiterock Finance

A £30m loan fund designed to support export-focused NI SMEs demonstrating growth or strong growth potential. Loans are typically between £100k and £500k.

  • Loans are provided on commercial terms with pricing reflective of the risk involved
  • There must be an identified funding gap in a proposed investment (applicants must have tried and been unable to raise all required funding from Banks / financial institutions)
  • Companies must be able to demonstrate their ability to service loan repayments from projected cash flows

This fund is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014 - 2020.

Find out more about Growth Loan Fund II on the Whiterock Finance website.

Videos:

  • Paul Millar, Chief Executive, Whiterock Capital introduces Growth Loan Fund II
  • David Maxwell, co-founder and COO, FURTHER.SPACE explains how Access to Finance helped their business grow and succeed
  • Philip Trimble, Managing Director, Conveyortek Ltd. explains how the Growth Loan Fund helped their business
  • Gareth Murphy, Managing Director, We are Vertigo Group explains how Access to Finance helped their business

Growth Finance Fund

Fund Manager: WhiteRock Finance

A £30m loan fund designed to support export focused Northern Ireland SMEs demonstrating growth or strong growth potential. Loans are typically between £500k and £2m.

  • Loans are provided on commercial terms with pricing reflective of the risk involved
  • There must be an identified funding gap in a proposed investment (applicants must have tried and been unable to raise all required funding from Banks / financial institutions)
  • Companies must be able to demonstrate their ability to service loan repayments from projected cash flows

Find out more about Growth Finance Fund on the Whiterock Finance website.

Videos

  • Paul Millar, Chief Executive, Whiterock Capital talks about the support they offer

Equity Funding

techstart NI (ERDF)

Fund Manager: Techstart Ventures

TechstartNI logo

A collection of funds providing support to NI based entrepreneurs, seed / early stage SMEs and university spin-outs. Support includes a £30m SME equity fund, investing between £50k - £750k in any one round and up to £2m over a series of funding rounds, and a £4.5m Proof of Concept Grant Fund.

Find out more on Techstart NI on the Techstart NI website.

This fund is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

Videos

  • Jamie Andrews, Investment Director of Techstart Ventures LLP talks about Techstart NI and what they do
  • Chris Acheson, Founder of CADshare talks about how Access to Finance has helped their business
  • Dr Jason McKeown, Co-founder and CEO of Neurovalens talks about how Access to Finance has helped their business grow
  • Greg Maguire, CEO of Humain on how Access to Finance has helped his company grow

Co-Fund NI II (ERDF)

Fund Manager: Clarendon Fund Managers

Co-FundNI logo

A £70m equity fund for SMEs based in Northern Ireland. The fund co-invests alongside business angels and other private investors. The fund can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £150k and £1m and up to £2m over a series of investment rounds, at a ratio of up to 50%.

This fund is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

Find out more about Co Fund NI on the Clarendon Fund Mangers website.

Videos

  • Neil Simms of Clarendon Fund Managers talks about the support they can offer companies
  • Chris Johnston, Founder of Adoreboard explains how his company benefited from the Invest NI, Access to Finance Programme
  • CEO of Datactics, Stuart Harvey discusses how Co Fund NI support provided to the company has helped their business grow
  • Sinead Murphy, co-founder of Snuggle talks about how Access to Finance has helped her company grow
  • David Maxwell, Co-founder and COO of Further Space discusses how support from Access to Finance helped their business grow

HBAN (Halo Business Angel Network)

Fund Managers: Clarendon Fund Managers

HBAN is the all island Business Angel network, a joint initiative between Invest NI, InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland. The HBAN programme encourages business angels to operate within syndicates and it also provides a matching service between companies seeking investors and business angels.

Find out more about HBAN on the HBAN website.


Further information:

Northern Ireland Business Info

British Business Bank

The business finance guide

Catalyst

InterTradeIreland


Not sure that this support is right for you? Contact us and we can explore options for your business together.

Our support may be subject to some eligibility criteria.


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Access to Finance

Access to Finance Solutions Brochure

Access to Finance | Ambition to Scale

Access to Finance | Video Tutorial