Guest post: investing in Cornwall’s growth

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By Ralph Singleton, head of funds for CIOSIF at The FSE Group

The circa £40 million Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) is managed by The FSE Group on behalf of British Business Bank and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund. CIOSIF aims to nurture regional entrepreneurship and to help realise Cornwall’s potential to achieve economic growth through enterprise.

With European funding support set to come to a close at the end of 2023, here at The FSE Group we have been outlining plans to deploy the remaining funds to growing businesses across the region.

Providing both equity and debt finance options for Cornwall’s ambitious businesses, we work closely with key partners and finance introducers to offer the most suitable funding packages to support growth and provide a valuable lifeline for those adversely affected by Covid-19.

Whilst continuing to focus on Cornish investment sector hotspots such as renewables, marine, agricultural technologies, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and emerging technologies in healthcare and wellbeing, the fund is also well-placed to support businesses ‘recovering’ from the impact of the pandemic. With the economy now cautiously entering this recovery phase, CIOSIF is seeing a steady trend of businesses that are moving away from survival strategies and are seeking loans and equity investment to fund growth once again.

Further to this wider upturn in business confidence and rise in funding enquiries, we also retain a robust portfolio and have seen many of our investments increase in value in recent months. We recognise that Cornwall has many businesses with strong fundamentals that may have been negatively impacted over the last two years. Weakened balance sheets and cash-flow pressure may well be more pronounced but their potential remains strong, providing they receive the right support and investment.

These are the businesses we want to talk to right now. We have the in-house capability, expertise, and the capital to help them through the next stage of growth or recovery. We have been particularly excited by recent investments In Inyanga Maritime and Hydrowing, who are active in the renewable energy space, Flexi -Hex, whose innovative packaging is helping eradicate the need for bubble wrap, Arc Marine who are setting up a Cornish manufacturing facility, and Logan Electronics, where sales have recently doubled as they look to onshore their supply chain.

A primary focus for CIOSIF throughout the programme has always been to help businesses exploit new growth opportunities and create jobs in all of Cornwall’s leading sectors. We are keen to continue this and with many of the government covid support schemes now ended, CIOSIF is well placed to support Cornish businesses that can demonstrate the potential to deliver new jobs and economic growth, ensuring a strong base for recovery across the whole of the region.

CIOSIF has also been highly successful in helping its portfolio companies attract investment from outside Cornwall; in addition to monies lent and invested by CIOSIF, a further £22 million of external funding has already been secured with at least £37 million to follow.

Although uncertain times may lay ahead, the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund remains very much ‘open for business’ with loans available from £25k and equity investments available from £50k; we look forward to continuing to engage with businesses across the county to help them reach their potential.