Time is running out for South West businesses to apply for a new £600,000 loan scheme which could help them expand or boost their productivity.
The offer of funding of up to £250,000 has come from the Inspiras Loan Fund, which aims to help business or not-for-profit organisations at critical times in their development.
But interested companies will have to be quick, as the closing date for applications is April 25.
The Inspiras Loan Fund, which was launched last month, is an independent South West business fund created to help support the implementation of innovative projects which could potentially have a significant impact on the economy of Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and Somerset.
It is aimed at projects requiring funding of more than £100,000 and will consider offering short-term loans of between £100,000 and £250,000, typically over three years.
Inspiras chairman Dave Young said: “There are some amazing businesses operating in the South West, but often they are held back by lack of availability of the funding they need at a critical time in their growth.
“The loan fund aims to help those businesses achieve their potential and have a positive impact on our economy.”
Inspiras director Bob Dow said the fund is particularly aimed at projects which will create new jobs or substantially improve productivity.
He said: “As this is not European or government money, this means that the fund can be used to provide the match frequently necessary for businesses to access loans or grants offered by the public sector.
“We are not looking to replace bank or other borrowing. If applicants can secure money through other processes, they do that. But if after that they have a funding gap, then we try to help them.”
The money is generated from loan repayments from Inspiras’ former Springboard Fund which closed to new applicants in 2012 and which reviewed more than 350 applications from across Devon and Cornwall during its four years of operation.
Mr Dow said: “We will be able to fund four to six significant projects in this first round of applications.We have more finance coming in from the repayment of loans we have already put out there through the Springboard Fund – we are recycling that money.”
Applicants who apply for a loan, via the application form at www.inspirasfund.co.uk, will have their submission scrutinised by a panel made up of businessmen and women from across the South West with practical experience of running their own firms.
Companies which received Springboard funding include Plymouth-based hi-tech firm Plessey Semiconductors, renewable technology company Kensa Engineering from Cornwall, and Exeter Innovation Centre-based company Brain In Hand, which assists people with impaired executive function – such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome.