British Business Bank showcases growth potential of smaller businesses in Northern Ireland

Belfast: The government-backed British Business Bank hosted an event in the heart of Belfast today to discuss the variety of funding options available for smaller businesses in Northern Ireland. The event was held in collaboration with Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Invest Northern Ireland.

The British Business Bank’s goal is to make finance markets work better for smaller businesses, allowing them to prosper, grown and support the economy throughout the UK.

The event, The Future of Funding, brought together over 150 members of the business community and both the traditional and alternative finance sectors to hear about the variety of finance options available for smaller businesses in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, who gave a keynote address on the Northern Ireland business economy, commented:

“Bank lending to SME businesses in Northern Ireland has been consistently improving, increasing some 15 percent in the last year. The British Business Bank has facilitated more than £40 million of lending and investment to businesses in Northern Ireland and the rate of lending is increasing. The Government’s long term economic plan is working as we forecast growth of around 2% this year”

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said:

 “Access to Finance remains a key issue for Northern Ireland businesses. It is important that we continue to examine and explore options for ensuring local companies have access to appropriate and affordable finance to support investment and assist in continuing growth.

“My department has been taking a lead role in addressing the issue through Invest NI’s ‘Access to Finance’ banner, and the Business Bank’s programmes complement the funds already available through this initiative.

“By organising today’s event, the British Business Bank is sending out a positive message that it is very much open for business in Northern Ireland, which is good news in that it opens up more funding options for local SMEs.”

Also addressing the audience were Ron Emerson, Chairman of the British Business Bank, and Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, who restated their commitment to ensuring the small business community in Northern Ireland were presented with ready and accessible financing opportunities.

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, said:

“The British Business Bank will continue to ensure that finance markets are working properly across the United Kingdom. To date we have already leveraged over £1.8 billion of small business lending through our programmes. Today reaffirms our commitment to ensure the finance market is working for smaller businesses in Northern Ireland. We look forward to continuing our close co-operation with Invest NI and other partners in Northern Ireland”

Other speakers included:

  • Patrick Magee, Chief Operating Officer, British Business Bank
  • Peter Behrens, Co-founder, RateSetter – the UK’s largest peer to peer lending platform and a British Business Bank Partner
  • Tim Sawyer, CEO, Start Up Loans – British Business Bank managed programme
  • Tim Mills, Investment Director, Angel Co-Fund
  • David Anderson, Principal, Anderson Architect – received funding twice through British Business Bank partner RateSetter
  • Stephen Houston, NED, Sophia
  • Eamon McVeigh, MD, Predator Equipment – received funding through British Business Bank partner MarketInvoice
  • Ann McGregor, CEO, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce
  • William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest Northern Ireland
  • Angela McGowan, Chief Economist, Danske Bank
  • Alan Bridle, Head of Economics & Markets, Bank of Ireland


Notes to Editors

The SME Landscape in Northern Ireland

  • Small and medium-sized businesses account for 99.9% of all companies in Northern Ireland: approximately 119,000 firms that employ 347,000 people
  • Northern Ireland’s SME population saw 5% growth year on year in 2014 (BIS)
  • Gross turnover among Northern Ireland’s business community increased by 3% in 2013 (DETI)
  • Northern Ireland companies state they are twice as likely to source public financial support than the UK average (Tech City UK)

Case Study of a Business Finance Partnership through British Business Bank
Predator Equipment is a manufacturer of large agricultural trailers and liquid tankers based in Dungannon, Northen Ireland. The 2008 financial crisis in the UK saw Managing Director Eamon McVeigh look outside of the UK for customers, finding a market in Scandinavia for his products. The problem Predator faced was that traditional finance providers would not fund his export activities which is exactly why he turned to MarketInvoice, a British Business Bank partner.

MD Eamon McVeigh said “In this climate SMEs like ourselves need all the help we can get and it’s great to see the Government making a real impact through British Business Bank and the work they are doing with the likes of MarketInvoice.”

About British Business Bank
The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, enabling the sector to prosper, grow and build economic activity. Originally announced by Vince Cable in September 2012, it aims to generate up to £10bn of lending and investment for smaller UK businesses over the next five years.

Its objectives are to:

  • Increase the supply of finance available to smaller businesses where markets don’t work well
  • Create a more diverse and vibrant finance market for smaller businesses, with a greater choice of options and providers
  • Build confidence in the market by increasing smaller businesses’ understanding of the options available to them
  • Achieve this whilst managing taxpayer resources efficiently and within a robust risk management framework. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales registration number 08616013, registered office at Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NH. As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found at

For more information please contact:
Nithiya Gnanathas +44(0)207 199 2200