Investment in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
£40 million investment fund launches for SMEs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Fund launched in summer 2018
In June 2018 the British Business Bank launched the £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). The fund is expected to boost the local economy by providing debt and equity finance to help growing small businesses across the region.
The fund was established in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and UK Government to provide local businesses with more funding options to help them grow and create jobs.
CIOSIF has been designed following input from local business groups, funders, business advisers, and the LEP and will provide debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million. It’s expected to unlock a further £40 million of private investment.
Creating jobs and supporting local business in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Capital Solutions at the British Business Bank, expanded: “Our role is to make the finance markets work better for smaller businesses at all stages in their development. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly investment fund has been specifically designed to support growth businesses in this area and is part of a co-ordinated approach to help them realise their potential.”
Mark Duddridge is chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, a private and public sector partnership dedicated to driving growth and job creation in the region. Mark explained: “This fund has been a long-held ambition of the LEP and our partners and we believe it will prove transformational by creating an enduring legacy of business investment, innovation and growth in our region.”
Addressing the region’s funding needs
Access to business finance in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has been identified as a big barrier to growth, with the region falling behind the England average for accessing business funding. The fund has been established to address the finance needs of the region, and to bring it in line with the rest of the country.
Business woman and entrepreneur, Jess Ratty, believes that the new fund will help to put Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly on the map, and is looking forward to seeing the benefits it brings to the region. Acknowledging that accessing finance in the region can be challenging for small businesses, Jess says, “Cornwall is very rural, and some sectors – like tourism – can struggle a little with seasonality. The area is likely to suffer from some commercial challenges as the UK economy changes over the next few years, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund should go some way to boost business growth.”
Case study: The Cornwall Camper Company
From first-hand experience, Jess Ratty knows how hard it can be to access business finance. Jess built an idea into a dream business after her partner announced that he wanted to start up a campervan business.
But her journey hasn’t been without its challenges.
Jess and her partner had spent a few years developing the business, The Cornwall Camper Company, using their own savings. They were at a point where they had assets, systems in place, and their first booking two months down the line – but they needed a cash injection. Jess received countless rejections for business finance from banks and was even told to consider bankruptcy. However her determination to succeed meant that she wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer. Thanks to her resilient attitude she quickly secured a £5,000 business loan from the Start Up Loans Company. She then raised a further £5,000 through Cornish peer-to-peer lender, Folk to Folk, which gave the business the cash injection needed to then apply for a local grant.
Five years down the line and the loans have been paid off, The Cornwall Camper Company has grown into a sustainable and successful business, and Jess has gone on to set up her second business. She now runs an unconventional and innovative brand and marketing agency, Team Jess, which she started in May 2018.
Reflecting on her finance experience, Jess says “Securing the finance wasn’t just about the money for us. It was the fact that someone believed in me, and that meant I could believe in myself.”
Watch an interview with Jess here.
How your business could benefit from CIOSIF
One half of the CIOSIF (approximately £20 million) will be in the form of debt finance providing loans between £25,000 and £1 million. The funding will be aimed at growing businesses in the region with a viable proposal that are unable to access all the debt finance they need from commercial sources, maybe due to a lack of collateral or track record.
The other half of the fund will be in the form of equity funding from £50,000 to £2 million for growing companies. This aims to close an identified equity gap, especially in start up, early stage and development capital. Despite having 1% of the UK’s SMEs, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have just 0.1% of all UK equity deals.
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. Further investment has come from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and HM Government.