Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 14.41.50The Finance for Business North East fund has hit three notable milestones as local firms continue to demonstrate their appetite for expansion.

The programme has provided £125m of debt and equity funding to SMEs – its original target – with a further £138m of private sector cash leveraged to support deals from venture capital firms, business angels and other investors. In doing so, it has achieved other significant milestones of creating or safeguarding 5,000 jobs and supporting 700 SMEs.

The seven hundredth beneficiary was wholesale dessert and cake maker Sweet Art Patisserie, which secured a five-figure investment from the Microloan Fund. The Marske-based firm is using the money to expand into the ice cream market.

Director David Wrigley said: “We spotted a gap in the market for high-quality ice cream and decided to buy equipment that would enable us to manufacture it in-house. The Microloan investment has enabled us to kick on with these plans as we embark on the next phase of our expansion.”

Other recent beneficiaries of FFBNE include County Durham clothing brand I Sunk Your Battleship, which secured almost £100,000 from the Proof of Concept Fund. Meanwhile Gateshead-based mobile app specialist Logincident received £200,000 from the Accelerator Fund to develop its risk and claims management tool for businesses.

Andrew Mitchell, chief executive of North East Finance, said: “FFBNE is designed to boost the growth of local companies and oil the wheels of the regional economy. The fact that we have reached these significant milestones highlights a growing confidence and appetite for investment in the business community.

“Money is still available from the programme and could provide the ideal boost for businesses that require additional investment in 2015.”