The £2 million private-sector loan fund created by Opportunity North East and the Andrew Salvesen Family Trust has proved to be a vital addition to the region’s entrepreneurial environment.
The ONE Enterprise Fund, launched in November 2019, supports ambitious SMEs in north east Scotland by providing interest-free loans at critical points in their growth.
The Fund has approved more than £650,000 of loans for 16 innovative digital, energy, food, drink and agriculture, and life sciences businesses. It is fuelling investment in new technology, high-value manufacturing and production capacity, and new jobs.
The loans are repayable within five years, and recipients benefit from engagement in ONE's key sector growth programmes and projects.
A ONE Enterprise Fund loan enabled Rora Dairy to invest in new equipment to streamline production and increase volumes. The fast-growing business makes live yoghurt using milk produced on the Middleton of Rora Farm near Peterhead.
Aberdeen-based EC-OG, a clean energy technology company, introduced new advanced manufacturing capacity with its loan, reducing lead time for a critical component.
The Kindness Bakery, based in New Deer, has automated processes to boost productivity. It used a loan to purchase a faster and more environmentally efficient product packing machine, enabling it to fulfil new and larger orders.
The Fund has also helped early-stage businesses to secure meaningful equity investment or achieve a significant commercial milestone.
Stonehaven-based Trojan Energy is pioneering a novel electric vehicle on-street charging system with a significant pilot project now underway in London. The company used its loan as working capital to bridge a short-term gap funding challenge. It allowed the business to move forward with development plans, secure a large Innovate UK grant and complete a funding round.
The Fund is evergreen with the amounts repaid becoming available for distribution in the future.
Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East, said: "Access to funding is a critical issue for scaling businesses. The ONE Enterprise Fund is making a difference to entrepreneurs, providing capital to realise their growth ambitions faster and create jobs in priority areas including tech and low-carbon. The quality of the businesses coming forward seeking growth funding is consistently high. The offer of private sector interest-free funding plus access to growth support through ONE continues to land well with founders and other investors who recognise its value."
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