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Home » North East Deals Of The Week: Key Contracts, Investments And Acquisitions

North East Deals Of The Week: Key Contracts, Investments And Acquisitions

Bioethanol maker Ensus UK revealed plans to invest around £90m into its Teesside operations.

The Wilton International firm’s German parent company – CropEnergies AG – will invest in a series of projects at the Redcar site – the largest of which will be the creation of a new high protein animal feed manufacturing unit. Smaller sums will be spent on upgrades to improve plant reliability and energy efficiency.

No new jobs are expected to be created in the moves, but the firm indicated Ensus UK’s 100-strong workforce will be sustained by the plans. The plant is one of Europe’s largest production sites for bioenthanol – a road fuel – which has two key by-products in enriched animal feed and biogenic CO2 used by the food and drink industry.

Between £60m to £70m will be spent on the new animal feed facility which could start production in 2025. It will allow the firm to produce EnPro, a high-protein product aimed at UK and European aquafeed and pet food markets.

Ensus said it builds on its position as the UK’s largest producer of protein animal feed to farmers. The Redcar plant currently produces about 350,000 tonnes per year of protein enriched dried distillers’ grains with solubles, aimed at the UK cattle and pig farming industry.

From left to right: Prof Carrie Ambler, (LightOx) Dr Sam Whitehouse (LightOx), Dr Fozia Saleem (Magnitude Biosciences), Chi Onwurah (Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Science Research and Digital), Olusola (Sola) Idowu (Hexis Lab), Dr Andrew Pike (NunaBio) (Image: LightOx Ltd) Four North East life science and biomedical pioneers are set to scale up their growth plans after securing grants totalling more than £2.5m.

Newcastle based LightOx, NunaBio, Magnitude Biosciences and Hexis Lab have received the funds from Innovate UK’s latest round of R&D grants, which are designed to help accelerate their growth and leverage private sector investment in the region.

The funding will be used to advance the pharmaceutical and biotechnology research services, technology and drug development of the companies. In all, Innovate UK – part of UK Research and Innovation – has invested up to £25m in a range of projects across the country this year, supporting businesses developing solutions to tackle significant health or healthcare challenges.

Dr Sam Whitehouse, chief executive officer at LightOx and NELEP board member said: “We are delighted to have secured the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst R&D grant alongside our superb neighbours and collaborators. These awards come at an important part of our business journey, and I am sure this support will help grow all our companies. The health and life sciences sector presents a huge number of opportunities for the North East and it’s been great to have the support of MP Chi Onwurah and to see the interest and levels of investment benefitting so many fellow businesses in the region.”

Rob Brown of Jump (front) with Mike Guellard of NEL Fund Managers. (Image: NEL Fund Managers) Growing Tyneside digital agency Jump is set to create jobs and build its European presence after securing a six-figure investment. Jump offers creative design, digital solutions and marketing services to a roster of regional, national and international clients, including Newcastle’s Business Improvement District company NE1, the NHS, Newcastle University, Peacocks Medical Group and Living North magazine.

The Newcastle-headquartered agency – which has been working with business growth specialists 360 Growth Partners on the next phase of its growth – has now sealed a £100,000 investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, with help from regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers. Jump will use the investment to fuel expansion of both its North East team and its overall client base, with a view to reaching a £1.2m turnover target by 2025.

Daniel Moore commercial director at JLM Global Foods (Image: JLM Global Foods) North East food firm JLM Global Foods is ramping up expansion plans after securing a new £4m-plus finance package.

The company manufacturers a range of ‘Better for You’ private label snacks for big brands, as well as its own label savoury snacks, which are sold around the UK, with a global reach as far as Australia. Directors have already injected £1m into the business to help ramp up growth, and now Leumi ABL has provided a multi-asset based lending facility, consisting of invoice finance, plant and machinery finance, inventory finance and a term loan, with an aggregate limit of £4.37m.

It will enable the major exporter to increase its manufacturing capacity, research and development capabilities and serve more customers across the world. Mark Thompson, director of JLM Global Foods said: “The company is already a significant exporter and has ambitious plans to expand further in global markets including the UK, Europe and America. Leumi ABL has shown confidence in the business, and with an additional planned investment of over £2million in state-of-the-art machinery in the coming months, the directors will ensure that the total investment package of £7.5million will continue to create jobs in Darlington and play a part in the renaissance of the town.”

L to R Michael Lavery, Lisa Eaton, Richard Lane, Helen Whitfield, Raman Sehgal (Image: Fabric Academy) North East entrepreneurs have invested in a growing Newcastle tech company to help ramp up its growth plans. Fabric Academy is set for expansion with backing from six prominent business leaders to accelerate its marketing education SaaS platform, both nationally and internationally.

The firm has of a high-profile investment panel that includes Mike O’Brien, founder and co-chair of Opencast Software, Richard Lane, co-founder and CCO of durhamlane, Helen Whitfield, board level executive, Raman Sehgal, founder and global president of ramarketing, Paul Dyson, CTO and co-founder at Singletrack and Michael Lavery, CEO of Brand and Reputation.

The company has secured the funds following some key contract wins across multiple sectors that includes renowned brands such as Indeed, Boots, Revolution Beauty, 118118Money, Savills, itsu, and The Body Shop. Launched by Lisa Eaton in 2021, Fabric Academy offers an online programme for established and aspiring business professionals to level up their strategic knowledge and enhance their marketing skills in line with the latest industry standards.

Ms Eaton said: “We are thrilled to have received investment from such accomplished entrepreneurs who have achieved remarkable success. We have created a platform to disrupt the traditional marketing education space by empowering marketers to learn and develop a live marketing strategy for their organisation and crucially receive mentoring and coaching from leading industry practitioners to embed the learning, making them more effective in their delivery. ”

Panelbase’s Hexham headquarters at The Mill. (Image: Google Streetview) Data collection specialist Panelbase has become part of Norwegian market research operator Norstat. The undisclosed deal is said to strengthen Norstat’s presence in Western Europe and will see Panelbase’s Paul Wealleans become managing director of Norstat UK & Ireland. From its Hexham headquarters, Panelbase runs panels on which thousands of members are offered cash rewards for taking part in surveys.

In an announcement of the acquisition, Norstat, which is backed by private equity investor Triton Partners, said the integration of Panelbase created a ” robust platform for organic growth in Europe’s largest market for market research”. Following the deal, 370,000 panel members from Panelbase will join Norstat’s UK consumer panel.

Erling J.B. Eriksen, CEO of Norstat: “We are thrilled to finalise the acquisition of Panelbase, which marks a key step in our journey to become the leading data collection company in the UK and Ireland. The UK and Irish markets are of strategic importance to us, and Panelbase’s impressive expertise and market standing align perfectly with our growth strategy. I am delighted that Paul Wealleans will stay on as Managing Director of Norstat UK & Ireland. Together, we are committed to delivering exceptional value to our clients.”