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North East Finance (NEF) is an organisation that was established to provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the north-east of England. According to financial accountant at NEF David Malston, the programme is currently on target to meet its objectives for investment, as well as job creation and protection. Mr Malston noted that, across the seven NEF funds, the scheme has been able to deliver much-needed support to a variety of businesses in the region.Having spent seven years working to source and coordinate a range of finance initiatives for companies in the region, NEF is now involved as the fund manager for the Finance for Business North East programme. As a result, NEF has £125 million to inject into the local economy over the course of five years, which will be split across seven divisions, each targeting a different area.Mr Malston explained the purpose of the scheme is really twofold. "Basically, the funds are set up to help create and safeguard companies and it's also to get a return on our funds to service the loans we've put in place to create the funds initially," he stated. The technology fund has had the largest cash injection and is responsible for £25 million, while the accelerator, growth and growth plus funds all received £20 million each from the initial pot. The proof of concept initiative has £15 million to hand out and is focused on early-stage development of new technologies in conjunction with the north-east's universities.The angel fund may be one of the most interesting to investors, with £7.5 million at its disposal to support local firms and pair them up with backers who can provide further financial assistance in exchange for a return at a later date. The smallest of the funds managed by NEF is the microloan programme, with £5 million to support enterprise creation and the growth of small businesses.
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