The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) is driving more business resilience, increased skills, more R&D investment and new products and services among small to medium sized businesses across Cornwall.
These are the key findings of an evaluation commissioned by the British Business Bank from independent research consultancy SQW.
The fund was established by the British Business Bank and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership in June 2018 to provide commercial debt and equity finance from £25k to £2 million to small businesses in Cornwall and Scilly.
The evaluation covered debt and equity finance provided up to March 2022. Deployment of debt was relatively low during the Covid-19 pandemic as emergency debt funding was available outside of the CIOSIF. As a result CIOSIF investments were more weighted to equity (65%) than debt (35%).
Almost half of respondents surveyed (48%), said they had reduced the environmental impact of their business as a direct result of CIOSIF investment. CIOSIF also helped boost the numbers of employees, sales, and productivity among more than two thirds of respondents.
Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “It is fantastic that small firms across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have benefited so much from this Government-backed Investment Fund.
“Business reliance, developing new and exciting products, and increasing skills and R&D are all vital parts of a strong and growing small business community that have been boosted by this investment, and we are proud of our ongoing support for British business.”
Ken Cooper, MD from the British Business Bank, said: “These survey results show how investment from CIOSIF is having an enduring and positive impact on small to medium-sized businesses across the region, boosting jobs, skills, innovation and productivity.
“The fund has also leveraged considerable investment from the private sector, and we’re encouraged to see several businesses secure millions of pounds in non-CIOSIF related follow-on investment, and almost half take steps to become more sustainable.”
Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “CIOSIF has proved to be a powerful catalyst for business growth and innovation, helping businesses accelerate the launch of new products and services and adopting more efficient processes. It is increasing business resilience and giving companies more confidence to seek follow-on finance to fund further growth.”
To date CIOSIF has made 68 investments totalling £15.5 million in 50 Cornish SMEs, comprising £10.9 million of equity and £4.6 million of debt. Those investments have leveraged an additional £46.3 million from the private sector, which means the fund has been a catalyst for almost £62 million of investment into local businesses since its launch.
CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.