NPIF investment helps rehab centre on its next step

Sheffield-based rehabilitation centre STEPS has increased its staff numbers by 300% following a £250,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

The investment which was in the form of a three-year loan, and fully repaid last year, enabled the business which was established in 2017 to grow its capacity and support the firm’s growth.

Originally founded by sisters Toria Chan and Jules Leahy to address the lack of facilities for younger patients in need of intensive rehabilitation, STEPS has quickly become a national centre of excellence for adults recovering from brain or spinal injuries and complex trauma.

The investment by NPIF came after the sisters and their fellow directors invested more than £1.6million of their own money to build the facility, based on the site of the former Jacobs engineering works off Abbeydale Road.

The state-of-the-art centre comprises 23 bedrooms, a large therapy gym and a hydrotherapy pool, along with games and music rooms. STEPS offer specialist nursing and residential rehabilitation, with fees paid by the NHS, insurers and clients’ compensation payments, as well as self-funding clients.

The organisation now plans to review options for expansion, having reached full capacity, initially on an adjacent site it owns, and will invest in more specialist VR and Robotic rehabilitation equipment to expand its capabilities even further.

Leahy, founder and business development director at STEPS, said: “We have been on an incredible journey since we launched in 2017. NPIF has been an important part in helping our dream come to fruition, with its funding helping to facilitate considerable operational improvements to help get us to where we are today. Obtaining finance for early-stage businesses is challenging and Mercia provided us with invaluable support from the offset – crucially they completely understood and believed in what we were doing and having their support at the time we most needed it was invaluable.”

Lucy Nickson, Vice-Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I’m delighted to see a great South Yorkshire business get the recognition and investment it deserves. This NPIF funding is welcomed as it enables STEPS to grow and expand on the fantastic work they’re doing to benefit the people of our region and beyond. We’re focused on bringing stronger, greener and fairer growth to South Yorkshire, and this is made possible through the excellence and dedication of our people and businesses such as STEPS.”

Pete Sorsby, investment director at Mercia, said: “STEPS is an incredibly unique business. Toria, Jules and the management team have put in many years of hard work and investment to make the centre what it is today – a nationally recognised rehabilitation facility. With future expansion plans in the pipeline, I have no doubt that STEPS will continue to go from strength-to-strength, and we are pleased to have been on that journey with them.”

Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank, said: “NPIF was launched in 2017 and STEPS was one of our earliest investments, so it has been excellent to watch it grow and excel over the last few years. We look forward to working with like minded businesses in future to fulfil their growth plans.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project 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 and the European Investment Bank.

NPIF and are running a series of webinars over the first quarter of 2020 to help businesses understand the funding opportunities that are available. The first will take place on 28 January at 10am and will look at the challenges and solutions to funding innovation with panellists including, Dr Natalie Kenny of BioGrad Diagnostics and Chris Yates the CEO of Abingdon Health.