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19 February 2024

The Investment Fund for Wales – Why and How North Wales SMEs can Explore its Opportunities

Written By:

Edward Thomas Jones
Senior Lecturer in Economics
Bangor University



In this blog for Ambition North Wales, Dr Edward Thomas Jones, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Bangor University and member of the British Business Bank Wales Stakeholder Advisory Board, sets out the background and context for the new Investment Fund for Wales – and how business can benefit from its Llandudno event.

The 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, tells the tale of a man trapped in a time loop. He is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again in Punxsutawney (Pennsylvania, US) where he has visited to report on the Groundhog Day festivities.  Each day varies slightly, and the protagonist only breaks the loop at the end of the film when he falls in love with his new producer Rita Hanson.  Recent economic events do make it feel that we are in some mystical time loop, going from one crisis to another.

Following the referendum in 2016, Brexit brought uncertainty to the economy as negotiations between the UK and its largest trading partner lasted until 2019.  By St Davids Day 2020, cases of Covid-19 had appeared in Wales, and the virus brought the world to a halt, to put lives, societies, and economies on lockdown.  At the end of 2020, inflation stood at below 1% but this rose to over 11% in under two years, causing a crisis in the cost of doing business.  It’s safe to say that the last 7 years have been a unique period that has brought many challenges for the economy and businesses.

The economy has performed better than expected in 2023 but the expectation is only modest growth in 2024 and 2025.  In their UK Economic Outlook, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) noted that inflation is set to continue its fall, the Bank of England will start cutting interest rates towards the middle of the year, improved living standards, and a better business environment.

To support this economic recovery, the British Business Bank has launched the Investment Fund for Wales, which will deliver a £130 million commitment of new funding to the country.  The fund aims to drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating local opportunity for new and growing businesses across Wales.  The new £130 million Investment Fund for Wales launched on 23 November 2023 and offers a range of commercial finance options with smaller loans from £25,000 to £100,000, debt finance from £100,000 to £2 million and equity investment up to £5 million.

On 20 February 2024 (between 9:30am and 12pm), the British Business Bank will hold an event at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, to celebrate the launch of this new fund.  This event is aimed at smaller businesses, business advisors, accountants, bankers, lawyers, the wider small business support ecosystem and public sector representatives interested in advancing North Wales economy.  This event will explain the different funding options available through the fund and will be an opportunity to meet British Business Bank appointed fund managers.

Those interested in joining the celebration and understanding more about the Investment Fund for Wales can register here

Alwen Williams, Director, Ambition North Wales:

“Firstly I would like to thank Dr Edward Jones for representing Ambition North Wales on British Business Bank Wales’ Stakeholder Advisory Board. Given his expertise in economics, and specific background in financial economics, he is the consummate advocate for the Investment Fund for Wales and best placed to ensure our region’s businesses and related organisations are able to reap its many benefits. I would wholeheartedly urge signs up to the Llandudno event, which I am sure will prove to be a great platform for supporting future economic growth in North Wales.”

Bethan Bannister, Senior Manager, Nations and Regions Investment Funds added:

“This new source of funding will help enable smaller businesses from across Wales to expand, create new jobs and harness business opportunities.  I would encourage any intermediaries or businesses in the area looking to take the next step in their growth journey to connect with our Fund Managers at the forthcoming event to see how the Investment Fund for Wales could benefit them.”

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