Midven Director and MEIF Fund Principal, Roger Wood, starts 2020 by sharing some high level perspectives from the last 12 months of investing the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (‘MEIF’)

Having been launched in 2018, the Midlands Engine Investment Fund comprises a range of debt and equity funds for SMEs at varying stages in their development from start-up through early growth and into to scale-up. The midpoint of 2019 saw MEIF hit its first significant milestone; having invested £50m into over 150 firms. The year has continued strongly with significant funding continuing to be deployed to drive growth across the Midlands region. Midven is proud to have played its part in this milestone, through the management of the £35m West Midlands equity portion of the fund.

Demand for funding and appetite for growth remains strong

Despite the oft quoted ‘Brexit uncertainty’ facing UK business it is fair to say we have seen a continuing demand for funding and strong appetite for growth from businesses. Indeed, the summer of 2019 was one of the busiest in recent history, testament to the strong entrepreneurial spirit within the Midlands Engine region.

And it is fair to say that this spirit is spread across the full geography of the region, with the Midven fund providing equity finance to businesses located in all six of the West Midlands LEP regions during 2019, and a broad range of sectors. Over the last 12 months, amongst others, we have invested in businesses developing new technologies and new clothing brands, as well as those embracing technology to bring scale and disruption to more traditional sectors and unsurprisingly those within the fast growing eCommerce space. The full MEIF portfolio of investments can be seen here.

Employment opportunities in proportion with growing businesses

As you would probably expect in growing businesses, first and foremost fundraising is being driven the need to employ further staff. Whether this is to establish a marketing function, deliver more sales or indeed to accelerate technology development the need for most businesses we have talked to, and indeed invested in, during the year is for highly skilled individuals. Recruitment, particularly in the fields of software development and sales and marketing, is one of the biggest challenges facing MEIF investee companies. With over 50 high value jobs created already 2020 is forecast to bring a significant further growth in recruitment. Education and immigration policies in 2020 from a newly embolden government will therefore be watched with interest in this regard.

The emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurs

Another notable trend we have seen over the last 12 months is a typically younger but arguably more sophisticated and demanding breed entrepreneur, there is an increasing recognition that money on its own is not necessarily the silver bullet to growth and success. With an increasing range of funding being available in 2019, entrepreneurs have been increasingly looking for growth ‘partners’ and for ‘smart’ money. This is something that chimes well with our ‘more than money approach’ to investment. We are looking to work with ambitious and open minded individuals who can leverage the Midven team’s extensive track record of facilitating growth and delivering high value exits.

Midlands still has opportunity to grow

During 2019 the Midlands Engine Investment Fund has made great progress in delivering on its mission to provide businesses across the Midlands with the funding needed to grow and to benefit the wider Midlands community, but there is still more to do.

With a number of further MEIF investments in the pipeline to be announced shortly, 2020 is already set to be an exciting year for businesses benefiting from Midven’s investment and advice. However, with a strong appetite to invest even more significantly during the coming 12 months we are keen to speak to more high growth potential businesses. So if you are a start-up, early-stage or established business located in:

  • Coventry & Warwickshire
  • Greater Birmingham & Solihull
  • The Black Country
  • Stoke & Staffordshire
  • Worcestershire
  • The Marches

find out more about the MEIF and get in touch here.

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