The Post has again delivered on its pledge to get the West Midlands working - by handing out grants worth a total of £572,000 to 10 businesses.
Firms in the engineering, animation, cloud technology and food and beverage sectors were among those to receive funds at a Birmingham Post Investors’ Fortress event last week.
The funding will support the creation of dozens of jobs in the region, and is part of a wider commitment to create 250 positions through the £5 million Birmingham Post Growth Fund, funded by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.
The biggest winner on the day was Coventry manufacturing firm Marchantcain Design, which supplies highly-engineered parts for some of the world’s most expensive sports cars.
Despite establishing a niche – like all of the firms bidding for funding at the Investors’ Fortress event – the company had failed to gain sufficient funding from banks, but judges agreed to hand over £100,000 towards its £300,000 investment plans to grow and create five jobs, based on due diligence being completed.
Director Rob Marchant said: “We have growth plans for five years where we need to invest in our company. We need people and these people need support services.”
The Birmingham Post Growth Fund was launched by the Post and Bournville College to offer funds to companies that want to expand and create jobs but find themselves stifled by the tough economic climate.
Funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, the Post will either create or secure 250 jobs through the initiative.
All funding agreed at the Investors’ Fortress event – the fifth the paper has organised – is subject to due diligence.
Judges awarded £75,000 to SoshiGames, a Birmingham Science Park-based firm which creates new revenue streams for the music industry through an online game where you can create your own music festival.
Founder Cliff Dennett said he was inspired by the legendary Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and said there were other spin-off music games in the pipeline.
He said: “Ever since then I have always thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if everyone could create their own music festival?’ So we created a business where you can.
“That is the first of a series of music-themed games that we are releasing over the next few years.”
The music festivals game currently has around 30,000 monthly active users, and needs around 300,000 to break even, and the firm plans to create six jobs.
Another entrepreneur to secure funding from the panel was Nathan Salmon, director of Birmingham firm Urbantrix.
The company runs an acrobatic centre offering courses in free running, tumbling, street dancing and martial arts.
Mr Salmon said he wanted to create 18 new positions as he increased participation and was given £60,000 towards the plans. He said: “I am trying to get into schools and work with local groups.
“In order to grow the business we need funding to support investment to bring in more coaches, develop the activity and help to promote it.”
Digbeth animation company Second Home Studios won funding towards plans to create two new jobs.
The company is already a success in the animation sector – and has been nominated for a BAFTA in the past – and was given £48,000 towards its proposals to start creating e-publications.
The growth fund allows for applications for grants from £10,000 to £100,000 from small businesses in Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry.
It has funded more than 35 companies, creating and safeguarding more than 100 jobs since it was launched.
Demand for the funding, which aims to boost long-term jobs and assist businesses develop the skills to maximise any investment, has risen in recent months as firms learn more about the fund.
Elsewhere, Birmingham firm DriveSafe, a business that offers driver safety courses for schools, was given £30,000 towards plans to take on five people.
Founder Fay Goodman said: “There are twice as many people being killed on the roads and we want to make a difference. I know I can really make this work if I can employ a good team of people.”
Geoffrey Smith from Hockley document management company Folding Space impressed judges with his software that enables hundreds of documents to be viewed and managed on a single computer screen.
The technology will be sold into universities, with the University of Sheffield already signed up to use it and the company, which turned over £750,000 last year, wants to take on seven people in the next two years.
Mr Smith said: “We are working at getting on for 40 universities. We have got a very solid base.”
Coventry-based start-up company Bizapp Technologies was given £69,000 towards plans to create seven new jobs.
The company has developed cloud-based customer relations management software aimed at SMEs, and plans to make a return by working alongside partners and charging a royalty to use its product.
Tyseley-based Ignisis, which trades as Soul Tree Wine and imports Indian wines into the country, secured funding to create five new jobs.
The firm was founded by Oxford graduate Alok Mathur, who is targeting the UK’s 10,000-plus Indian restaurants.
He said: “Curry is huge. There are more than 10,000 restaurants and they sell £180 million worth of wine every year. Indian beers probably account for 80 per cent of beer sales in these restaurants.”
Jayne Bradley-Ghosh, of Kitchen School, which is opening a food operation offering cookery training and food skills at the new School Yard development in Harborne, also secured funding. Judges awarded £20,000 to the venture which plans to create 10 jobs.
Meanwhile, Sandra Green of Stirchley community interest company Green Revolutions was given £15,000 towards plans to set up a green car and cycle company.