Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blanks Looks to Ensure Firms Get Share of Fund; FUNDING

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blanks Looks to Ensure Firms Get Share of Fund; FUNDING

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

AKEY appointment has been made on the board of the new PS160m JEREMIE 2 venture capital fund as it prepares to open for business.

The Journal revealed in April the region's two local enterprise partnerships had joined forces ito create the new investment programme, potentially ploughing a further PS160m into the North East's growing and aspiring firms.

Tees Valley Unlimited and the North East LEP had already been given government money and held initial meetings at North East Finance in Newcastle, to create a programme board who would manage the fund.

Now, the fund has unveiled Estelle Blanks as its full-time deputy project director.

Most recently, Mrs Blanks was deputy director of the Newcastle Science City initiative.

The new programme will provide funding for growing businesses in both local enterprise partnership areas and will expand the work of the original JEREMIE fund, which has been hailed as England's most successful regional investment fund.

The PS125m Finance for Business North East fund - originally named JEREMIE - was launched in 2010, aiming to underpin the growth of business start-ups, technologybased companies and growing smaller businesses through targeted loans and equity investments. Since then it has become the most successful of its type in the UK, helping hundreds of SMEs and is on track to create more than 5,000 jobs and safeguard a further 2,800 by the end of this year.

Overseen by North East Finance, the programme involves seven funds, each devised to deal with different levels of the market, from start-ups to larger specialist technology firms, such as AIM-listed Applied Graphene Materials.

The fund has invested nearly PS110m to date in 650 North East companies and secured more than PS120m in investment from the private sector.

Mrs Blanks, who takes up her new role this month, said: "JERE-MIE2 will build on the work of the original fund, which has provided much-needed investment for businesses across both Local Enterprise Partnership areas. …

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