Proactive specialist asset management
We provide venture, private equity or debt finance to regional businesses with growth ambition.
The North East region is a hugely important focus area for Mercia. Even before the team was awarded its most recent fund, the North East Venture Fund, Mercia was well established in the region having completed its first investment in 2003.
Mercia’s North East team is based in City Quadrant in Newcastle and is led by Fund Principal, Ian Wilson. Ian is a Chartered Accountant (FCA) and holds the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) from the CFA. He is a seasoned investment professional having fulfilled both merger and acquisition advisory positions in practice and investment management roles in early-stage funds since 2006. He has facilitated finance and support that has helped several companies grow from first investment to exit in recent years.
I’m proud to be part of Mercia’s North East team in supporting and helping ambitious local companies towards their own objectives.Ian Wilson, Fund Principal of the North East Venture Fund – Mercia
The North East Fund is a £120.0million investment programme available to SMEs across Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear and can also be open to businesses which are relocating to the area. There are five funds, each with a different investment focus depending on the sector in which businesses operate and where they sit on the growth curve.
Mercia manages the Venture Fund under this programme which is a £27.0million fund investing up to £1.0million into innovative businesses across Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
Funding is available to all companies with high growth potential. The fund aims to provide a range of investment products, tailored to each specific requirement, including both equity and mezzanine debt. The Fund can either act as the lead investor or participate in syndication deals with other investors which the team has considerable experience in doing.
There have been some great examples of Mercia being able to deploy its ‘Complete Capital Solution’ by combining other funds which it manages to build significantly larger investment rounds. This concept was well illustrated by the £8.0million investment into Total Resources which Mercia completed in May 2019 whereby the North East Venture Fund invested £1.0million and the remaining £7.0million from several other funds. This deal completed on 30 April 2019.
The transaction included growth, debt and venture funding which is helping the business to expand its existing depot network across the UK, creating up to 100 jobs from its head office in Boldon in South Tyneside, depots in Gateshead, Haydock and several other locations outside of the region.
Under our most recent fund, which was launched in April 2018, we have already invested more than £8.8million into 20 different businesses and this number continues to rise each month. Investments span a range of different sectors ranging from software to metalwork and X-ray technology. The fund is able to support businesses at an early stage of growth and its average investment is £500,000. Mercia is able to provide further capital as businesses grow.
Can you describe your early career before taking over as director of Troo?
I have over 10 years’ experience within the energy industry. I started out as an Account Manager at EIC, an energy consultancy in the Midlands, followed by heading up the Relationship Management team there. I managed over 200 high–profile Industrial and Commercial clients, including large manufacturers and retailers. My role allowed me to oversee all client services including account management, delivering fixed and flexible procurement solutions and supporting clients with energy assessment schemes.
Most recently before Troo, I was Commercial Manager in the Partner Channel at Utilitywise PLC, where I managed partner relationships with the likes of Chambers of Commerce around the UK.
What are the objectives of the North East Fund?
Our vision is for the North East to be a vibrant place for businesses to start up and grow, and for that to happen, our companies must have access to the finance that this requires. Unfortunately, this region has historically not been particularly well served by the traditional providers of capital, and hence the rationale for implementing the North East Fund. We want to ensure that investment finance is readily available for all North East companies, regardless of their size or where in the region they are located. We invest in companies with only one or two employees, as well as those with up to 250, and cover the whole of the region – from Berwick to Sedgefield, from Hexham to South Shields, and everywhere in between. Our aim is for those companies to develop and grow, increasing both employment and economic prosperity in the region.
If you are looking for investment or wanting to find out how you can invest in Mercia, then please get in touch with our team today.
Can you explain what your role is in delivering the North East Venture Fund?
I head up the North East Venture Fund which is investing £27.0million into businesses across the region as part of a £120.0million initiative supported by the Regional Development Fund. My role is to manage the local investment team, provide input into our investment decisions, provide support and guidance to our portfolio and network in the market to identify target companies for investment. I also play a part in promoting the Mercia brand in the region.
What sort of businesses are you looking to invest in, and are there any types of businesses that you can’t back?
Mercia has a broad focus in the region. We’re looking for smart and ambitious entrepreneurs who have a clear growth strategy for their business. We’re looking for businesses that are addressing a specific market need with an innovative product or solution, in markets where we have built up experience and where we can add value. Most businesses could be eligible for venture funding so we encourage business owners to get in touch directly. If something isn’t a good fit for Mercia, we will be happy to try to introduce to other providers of finance which may be more suitable.
What role can the financial community play in helping to make the fund a success?
The financial community can engage with Mercia by introducing clients who may wish to seek funding, or even those who want to understand a bit more about what their options might be. We talk to lots of business owners who are just starting to consider finance, it takes time to build trust and we’re more than happy to get to know companies early on in the process.
What’s the best single piece of advice you can offer North East entrepreneurs seeking finance?
The best advice I could give to anyone would be to recognise there is always support available. Reach out to people and talk about your objectives and your ambition. You may gain some insight into your market that you wouldn’t otherwise have got or you may meet someone who can help you on your path. Everything starts with a conversation.