£20 million finance fund helps Durham businesses fly

January 8, 2018

From an investment into a craft-batch distillery to incubation support for a technology start-up, Durham County Council’s new Finance Durham fund is already having an impressive impact on North East businesses

Durham Gin is set for rapid growth thanks to its injection of £250,000 from the new Finance Durham fund, run through Durham County Council.

It will allow the craft-batch distillery to relocate to central Durham to accommodate greater production capacity and storage facilities. The new site will also include a new visitor centre, which will provide guided distillery tours and host private and corporate events. The Finance Durham funding will also support the launch of Durham Whisky, the first ever whisky produced in the North East.

Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, says: “We’re seeing more and more firms start up and grow here in County Durham, and the £20 million Durham Finance fund will support those regional businesses as they scale up, creating employment locally and adding to the economic prosperity of the county.”

While the fund – which is managed by Maven Capital Partners – will give awards of £200,000 to £700,000, ten per cent of the fund is also available to invest up to £40,000 per company in start-ups. It is available to companies located, or looking to locate, in County Durham.

The latest to benefit from incubator funding is Moralbox – a technology start-up that has designed a web-based software platform to help employers manage the training needs of their workforce. The fund has awarded £40,000 to the company.

Gordon MacPherson Jnr, chief executive of Moralbox, reflects: “The funding will allow us to scale up by employing extra sales staff to market our product and enter new markets, as well as further develop the functionality of our software to meet the changing needs of the customers we supply to.”

Ben Jones, investment associate of Maven, adds: “This is a great fit for an investment from the part of the fund allocated to support innovation. We look forward to helping more companies like Moralbox expand through an incubator investment.”

Maven joins many businesses at Business Durham’s flagship office, Salvus House – a 30,000 sq ft office space and business incubator unit at Aykley Heads, which has already attracted several industry-leading businesses. It boasts incubation, office and desk space for lease for between one and 90 people and is now home to firms in

the finance, accounting, engineering, communications and digital design industries.

Food Truck Friday events, which temp tenants with the aroma of Greek kebabs and gourmet burgers, add a sense of community to Salvus House. Meanwhile, prospective small business owners will soon be able to get access to the Durham City Incubator, an intensive programme of support from New College Durham and Durham University, due to start in April 2018.

Peter McDowell, business property director with Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, says: “Salvus is a flagship office space which has hot desks and smaller offices in the incubation centre and larger officers for bigger companies. Aykley Heads and Durham City, in general, is a place where companies can have their HQs or their local offices and Salvus is a showpiece in the county’s crown. But we also have a range of offices and factory units for all requirements across the county.”

Durham is proving to be a fantastic place to live and for businesses to grow and thrive – whether they’re small start-ups or bigger companies looking to scale up.

Peter adds: “With competitive rents, great transport connections and a wide mixture of premises in the county, Durham has a great deal to offer.”

Business Durham

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