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Economy Minister, Diane Dodds today announced that Co-investment Fund (Co-Fund) NI is receiving additional funding of over £16m to support Northern Ireland SMEs.

Co-Fund NI is an equity fund managed by Clarendon Fund Managers. It provides growth capital to early stage, high-growth potential SMEs alongside lead private investors. The additional £16m funding is a combined investment between Invest Northern Ireland and the Regional Angels Programme delivered by British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank.

Making the announcement, the Minister said: “Local SMEs are the backbone of our economy and it is important that they can secure funding to grow. Co-Fund NI has been very successful in helping them to do this. Since 2011, it has supported over 70 companies, with over £29m of Invest NI funding and leveraging over £66m of private sector funds.

The additional £16m funding will inject further investment capital into the Northern Ireland economy. The increase is expected to directly leverage additional funding of more than £20m from private investors over the next three years, opening up new growth opportunities for local businesses.”

Invest NI has provided £6.1m towards the funding uplift. British Business Investments has also committed £10m through its Regional Angels Programme.

Kevin Holland, Invest NI’s CEO, said: “Co-Fund NI is one of five funds in our Access to Finance portfolio. It specifically provides support to early-stage, high-potential start-up companies. This combined funding will have a significant impact on the Northern Ireland economy at a critical time for high growth potential SMEs.

“We have committed over £6m to increase the fund and provide more businesses with the opportunity to get their innovative ideas out of the starting blocks. By securing further funding from British Business Investments, Co-Fund NI will be able to support more companies to achieve their goals. Investments have already begun, with £2.5m invested across six early-stage and existing Co-Fund NI portfolio companies; Concept Apps, Sustain IQ, Respiratory Analytics, Cirdan Imaging, Axial3D and B-Secur.”

Judith Hartley, CEO, British Business Investments, said: “Our Regional Angels Programme is designed to address imbalances in access to early-stage capital across the UK. This £10m commitment to Co-Fund NI is the programme’s first commitment in Northern Ireland, and will help provide long-term capital to smaller businesses with high growth potential. To date, British Business Investments has committed £65m through the Regional Angels Programme, providing early-stage capital to over 100 high-growth smaller businesses across the UK.”

Co-Fund NI is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance suite of loan and equity funds. The fund can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £150,000 and £2m.

Brian Cummings, Investment Director, Clarendon Fund Managers, said: “As we approach our 20th year of investing in Northern Ireland’s high growth potential business community, we are delighted to build on Invest NI’s Co-Fund NI programme by welcoming BBI as a new investment partner. This allows us to make more funding available to co-invest alongside business angels and other private investors providing companies with a strong mix of funding and expertise to accelerate businesses growth.”

Invest NI’s support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.