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Solihull energy consultancy doubles in size after MEIF investment

A Solihull-based energy consultancy has doubled in size after securing a £65,000 investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

Utility Works Group, a partner for businesses looking to reduce their energy costs and become more environmentally friendly, secured the MEIF investment through BCRS Business Loans.

The funding boost has allowed the company to move into new larger office space and employ additional members of staff, building the team up to support growth.

Utility Works Group Founder and Sales Director, Craig Gillespie, said:

Securing funding has helped us take a big step towards achieving our ambitious growth plans and we expect to double the size of our workforce again this year. As energy prices tend to go up by ten per cent per annum, it is important for profitability and environmental sustainability that businesses have an energy audit to see where improvements can be made. We can then suggest better tariffs and ways of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. I set Utility Works Group up two years ago after becoming frustrated with an industry that was fixated on profit at the expense of customer service. We have changed all of that and have set up a model that works for all of the businesses we support.”

Louise Armstrong, Senior Business Development Manager at BCRS Business Loans, who supported Craig and the team throughout their loan application process, said:

We are delighted to have supported the growth of Utility Works Group, which has not only doubled in terms of office size but has also provided four new jobs for local people. Social and economic impact is something we are passionate about at BCRS Business Loans. After meeting Craig and fellow directors Lee and Tom, it was clear to see that there was a vast amount of industry and management experience, plus an impressive business plan. We believe that no viable business should go unsupported and offer a relationship-based approach to lending.”

Ryan Cartwright, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said:

The MEIF was set up to help transform the business finance landscape across the Midlands. It is great to see MEIF finance is supporting expansion plans and job creation and we would encourage any smaller businesses in the region to explore the options available through the MEIF.”

Pat Hanlon, Director for Access to Finance at GBSLEP, said:

This is a fantastic example of one of the initiatives which are available to businesses in the region looking to expand. As well as helping to double the size of its office space, this move will support newly created jobs for local people at the Utility Works Group and we’re looking forward to seeing the business continue to thrive.”

The Midlands Engine 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.

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 About the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF)

  • The Midlands Engine Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof-of-Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
  • The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.
  • The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
  • The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South-East Midlands in the East and South-East Midlands.
  • The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The programme will continue to spend to the end of 2023.
  • The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
  • The Government has guaranteed all funding allocated through EU programmes until the end of 2020.  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/funding-from-eu-programmes-guaranteed-until-the-end-of-2020
  • The European Investment Bank is providing £122,500,000 to support the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. This follows backing for the Northern Powerhouse in 2017 and backing for the newly launched North East Fund. For further information visit eib.org
  • The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations in or planning to open material operations in the West Midlands and East & South-East Midlands.

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank programmes are supporting more than £7.0bn of finance to over 91,000 smaller businesses (as at end of June 2019).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:

  • The Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb.
  • The new British Business Bank Finance Hub provides everything high-growth businesses need to know about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The new site also features case studies and learnings from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.

British Business Bank plc is a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. 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). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries 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 on the British Business Bank plc website.

About BCRS Business Loans

BCRS Business Loans is a co-operative business loan fund run on a non-profit distributing basis. It is owned and run by its member investors who elect representatives to the Board of Directors at each Annual General meeting.

Established in 2002, BCRS is committed to lending to viable businesses in the West Midlands that have been unable to secure funding through mainstream lenders.

As a mutual organisation its purpose is to provide access to finance to enable local businesses to grow and prosper. BCRS offers loans to businesses making a positive contribution to the social, environmental or economic wellbeing of the West Midlands.

BCRS receives funding from the European Regional Development Fund and Regional Growth Fund. This Regional Growth Fund programme is provided through Responsible Finance (formally known as the Community Development Finance Association) – www.responsiblefinance.org.uk. It provides loans to small, micro and social enterprises through the community finance sector. £30million of funding is provided by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, matched with a further £30 million by the Co-operative Bank and Unity Trust Bank. Over £12 million of this was allocated to BCRS to lend across the West Midlands.

In addition, BCRS Business Loans is a delivery partner for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and as such is responsible for distributing the £17 million small business loan fund in the West Midlands. The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.

BCRS Business Loans also delivers a fund worth £7.5 million from the Community Investment Enterprise Fund (CIEF), which was established by social investment champion Big Society Capital and manages Social Investment Scotland (SIS). This has been match-funded by Triodos Bank UK, one of Europe’s leading sustainable banks, to create a total fund of £15 million.

Responsible Finance is the trade association for the responsible finance industry that provide finance and support to help enterprises and individuals develop and create wealth including support to disadvantaged communities.

About Responsible Finance Providers

BCRS is a Responsible Finance Provider. Responsible Finance Providers lend money to businesses, social enterprises, community groups, charities, and households who are unable to get finance from high street banks and loan companies. They often help deprived communities and underserved markets where market failures exist in mainstream bank lending. There are currently around 60 active Responsible Finance Providers collectively covering all regions of the UK.

BCRS is a founder member of the Fair Finance Consortium of “not for profit” lenders in the West Midlands www.fair-finance.net, and a Charter member of the National Trade Association – Responsible Finance.

BCRS employs a staff of 20 at its HQ at Wolverhampton Science Park, WV10 9RU.

For more information or to interview Paul Kalinauckas please call Sarah Moorhouse on 0345 313 8410 or email sarah.moorhouse@bcrs.org.uk