A new funding stream worth a total of £56 million has been launched by Finance Birmingham.

The pot is expected to help around 40 SMEs in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull and create or safeguard 5,000 jobs.

Finance Birmingham said it was the largest individual growth capital fund for small- and medium-sized companies in the region.

It comes as a result of a public/private sector partnership between the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), the Black Country LEP and the West Midlands Pension Fund which is providing 50 per cent of the money invested.

In addition to funding from the Government's Regional Growth Fund, cash has been added by the two LEPs from their Growing Places allocations.

Businesses will be able to apply for loans of between £250,000 and £2 million to fund development and expansion but Finance Birmingham said it expected typical investments to be around £1 million.

Funds will be given in the form of mezzanine loans which sit between traditional debt and equity and avoid part ownership by investors.

Sue Summers, chief executive of Finance Birmingham, said: "The Mezzanine Fund will be the largest individual growth capital fund for SMEs in the West Midlands.

"Its significant scale means that, not only will we be able to support local businesses that need finance to achieve the growth they are capable of, but we will be able to attract other high-growth firms to the area, support job creation and build our local entrepreneur eco-system."

Finance Birmingham's Mezzanine Fund is open now and will run until March 2019.