Greater Manchester Export Fund delivers £8.9m finance to drive growth

Tracy Eyres (adviser) and Keith Fairhurst (MolyGran)

The Greater Manchester Export Fund (GMEF) is celebrating the successful culmination of its two year programme, which has delivered almost £9m in grant and loan funding to support the export ambitions of businesses across the conurbation.

Delivered by Business Finance Solutions, Business Growth Hub and the Department for International Trade which are all part of the Manchester Growth Company, the GM Export Fund awarded grant funding of £5.5m to 47 projects across the region between 2015 and 2017, creating 601 jobs and safeguarding 85.

The Fund also delivered £3.4m of loans, creating 230 jobs and safeguarding 103 more. The finance was awarded to companies across the region operating in a wide range of sectors, from fintech and retail to medicine and manufacturing.

GradTouch enables graduate employers to attract the best graduate talent and recently received a £250,000 loan from the Fund to adapt and launch its operation into the European market.

Founded in 2011 by recent graduates Zac Williams and Joe Twigg, GradTouch works with employers to promote and distribute their career opportunities to its network of over 1.3 million 18-24 year olds in the UK.

The £250,000 Export Fund loan will now be used to build out the GradTouch offering overseas, initially focussing on the Netherlands; to adapt the existing technology platform for the region and to create five new jobs, taking the Manchester based team up to 25.

Molygran, a manufacturing business based in Radcliffe, near Bury, received an Export Fund grant of £90,000 to finance an extension to their existing building.

Established more than 40 years ago and employing 10 people, Molygran is an innovative polystyrene converter that manufactures packaging, design and merchandising materials and specialist pieces for the civil engineering sector.

With several new products in development the company were rapidly outgrowing its existing premises and the £90,000 Export Fund grant, alongside a total investment of £450,000, enabled it to expand and greatly improve their factory premises.

The company has already received its first export order and several new foreign markets, including Holland, are currently being explored for future exports with the business anticipating an increase in turnover of between 30-50% in the next 12 months.

Paul Breen, director of Business Finance Solutions, said: “The GM Export Fund has delivered a huge boost for businesses which would otherwise have been held back by not being able to access the cash they need to develop their global trading platforms. This innovative approach to grant and loan finance and the creation of so many jobs and opportunities for growth is great news for Greater Manchester.

“Companies like GradTouch and Molygran are showing the world that our region is home to remarkable innovation in technology, retail, life-enhancing medical devices, manufacturing and more.

“Driving our export market continues to be a priority for this region and we have a range of alternative finance products that are available to businesses who want to explore or expand their export growth, including the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).”

The GM Export Fund was open from November 2015 to May 2017 to small or medium enterprises located in Greater Manchester.

BFS will continue to support any business requiring export finance as the existing Export Loan Fund is a revolving fund to provide support to Greater Manchester businesses over the next 10 years.