North East funds for design groups

Design groups based in North East England are competing for loans of up to £60 000 to fund their expansion plans.

Over the next 18 months, about 40 creative and design companies in the region could benefit from a £2.4m fund, managed by business support company NStar and funded by regional development agency One North East.

NStar plans to invest in high-risk companies, including start-ups that find securing bank loans difficult.

NStar fund manager Mark Fenwick says, ‘We will invest in companies at different stages of development, but the common attribute we will be looking for is ambition. We favour companies generating intellectual property, or those looking to expand, particularly outside the UK. We are also interested in companies entering niche markets or providing a differentiated offer.’

He adds, ‘We will have the opportunity to invest without securing loans to assets, so if they fail the risk is ours not theirs.’

Fenwick is enthusiastic about the current state of the region’s design industry. ‘The North East is very exciting in terms of design. We have a very strong design school at Northumbria University, a strong product industrial design sector and a growing service design sector,’ he says.

The pilot initiative, which ends in December next year to be replaced by a legacy fund, will receive further funding if deemed successful.

The North East is hosting this year’s Design Council’s Designs of the Times initiative, called Dott07.

Visit to download an application form.

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