More than £5 million has been invested into local businesses with the support of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) in its first full year of operation.
The figures, revealed at an anniversary event in Truro last night (Tues, Oct 29) as part of the Cornwall Festival of Business, show that the fund has so far supported 13 local businesses with £2.9m of investment, attracting a further £2.2m of private sector investment. The fund in its entirety; which is managed by The FSE Group alongside a partnership with SWIG Finance, who support the smaller business loans element of CIOSIF, has backed a wide range of sectors, from digital technology and communications to boatbuilding, manufacturing and events.
CIOSIF’s first investment was a £750,000 equity deal with Wildanet, an independent superfast internet provider, which will create around 40 jobs over three years. The mostly recently announced deal was a £850,000 loan to shipping container conversion business ISO Spaces, creating 20 jobs.
The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) was launched by the British Business Bank last year in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the European Regional Development Fund and UK Government to provide local businesses with more funding options to help them grow and create jobs.
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions, at the British Business Bank, said: “Helping to create a more diverse finance market and reversing regional economic imbalances is a key objective of the British Business Bank and we’re delighted to see such a diverse range of businesses taking advantage of the availability of this investment in the first year of the fund.
“These investments also show that the fund can unlock other sources of finance to support growth, and it’s important that businesses are aware that there are more funding options available than traditional bank lending.”
LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “The LEP worked hard with its partners to get this fund over the line because there was an identified gap in debt and equity finance in our region. It’s great to see local businesses benefitting from the fund, growing and creating jobs.”
For Ian Calvert, CEO and founder of Wildanet, the CIOSIF equity deal has enabled rapid growth of the start-up business which will shortly locate to Liskeard and aims to employ 50- staff by the end of 2021: “Without the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund we wouldn’t be here. They understood what a young start-up company needed and that for us was really refreshing, talking to very experienced people. I can highly recommend them – it’s a unique asset for Cornwall, it really is.”
And Ben Treleaven, ISO Spaces Managing Director, said the CIOSIF loan had come at a crucial point for the company, and would allow it to progress its modular hotel offering nationally: “This is an opportunity for significant growth and the funds will allow us to invest in our infrastructure and take on major new contracts at a time when traditional finance streams are not readily available to us.”
The CIOSIF provides commercial debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The fund is operated by appointed fund managers The FSE Group.
CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.