A group backing Yorkshire businesses has hailed 2014 as a success.

Finance Yorkshire has fully invested its £90m fund into companies in Yorkshire and Humber ahead of schedule.

The fund has made 694 investments in businesses across the region – several of them in Kirklees – to create or safeguard 8,716 jobs and increase overall turnover in Yorkshire and Humber by £223m.

Finance Yorkshire is the first European JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to medium Enterprise) initiative to become fully invested in England. The fund is backed by grants from the UK Government and European Regional Development Fund and finance from the European Investment Bank.

Investments made during the past 12 months have included an equity-linked investment of £250,000 to Shelley-based soil investigation firm Rogers Geotechnical Services Ltd.

Among others, Huddersfield-based infection control products firm MTP Innovations landed £400,000 to promote its innovative product range in the NHS and target new and broader markets.

And Brighouse-based Cloud services provider Vapour Media received a second significant investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Alex McWhirter, chief executive of Finance Yorkshire, said: “I am delighted that we are the first JEREMIE fund to become fully invested in England.

“Despite operating in a challenging economic climate, we have exceeded our performance targets. It’s a success story of which Yorkshire and Humber can be proud.

“Many SMEs across the region have found it difficult to access finance via the traditional routes over recent years. We have been able to provide investment to fill this finance gap for many businesses, enabling them to expand and create jobs in the region.

“The fund will now be managed through the next five years during which time it is anticipated that a significant legacy fund can be created for the region for investment back into more businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber.

“Finance Yorkshire is working with stakeholders to secure further funding to ensure there is continuity to business investment in the region during 2015 and we expect to make a further announcement on this very soon.”

James Newman, chairman of Finance Yorkshire, and chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “This is a significant milestone for everyone associated with the fund.

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“Finance Yorkshire’s investments have given businesses a timely boost that has led to other private sector direct investment and more employment opportunities being created.

“With growth firmly back on the business agenda, the economic impact of this fund cannot be underestimated.

“It is, therefore, vital that a second JEREMIE fund is created in 2015 so that all the good work done by Finance Yorkshire is not lost and it can continue to support businesses in Yorkshire and Humber.

“I am hoping that all four of the Yorkshire and Humber LEPs will support this important initiative so we can all build on the excellent performance so far for the benefit of the region’s economy.”

In November, 2014, Finance Yorkshire was named Alternative Finance Firm of the Year at the Yorkshire Dealmakers Awards, organised by Yorkshire Business Insider magazine.

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium-sized businesses meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported by the European Union. It has attracted £30m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, £15m from UK Government and £45m match funding from the European Investment Bank.