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Virgin Money celebrates a year of start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria


  • 125 new start-up businesses are trading in the region
  • £700,000 has been awarded to young entrepreneurs in the region

The consortium responsible for delivering the Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria is looking back over a successful first year following the anniversary of its launch.

Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) joined forces in November 2012 to offer young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 the opportunity to access low-cost funding to start-up their businesses, together with mentoring and marketing support from Virgin Money and other local partners.

A total of 125 new businesses are operating across the region thanks to the Start-Up Loans scheme, with funding made available by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The new businesses are operating in a range of industries, from retail and leisure to hospitality and creative film. The entrepreneurs have also grasped the opportunity to be mentored by volunteers from Virgin Money and other local businesses. Loans amounting to almost £700,000 have been awarded, with an average loan size of £5,858, over an average three year term.

A number of the new start-up business owners have also had the chance to meet Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin brand and one of the most successful entrepreneurs. Not only did he attend a gathering of the new businesses at Virgin Money’s Gosforth site in February, he also invited five of the North East’s brightest new start-up companies to a ‘Fast Track 100’ event at his family home in Oxfordshire in May. They met and shared their business ideas with him over lunch, and each had the opportunity to pitch their business plan, receiving feedback from some of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs and leaders of Fast Track 100 companies.

Start-Up Loans North East highlights in 2012/13 include:

November 2012, Scheme launch event at Virgin Money, Gosforth

Eight entrepreneurs take part in a Google+ Hangout with Sir Richard Branson in Necker island, and other entrepreneurs in Jamaica and South Africa

February 2013
Sir Richard Branson visits the North East to promote Start-Up Loans

March 2013
Total reaches £300,000 for new start-up loans in the region

April 2013
Big Kick Off competition: ‘Choclateas’ win the chance to sponsor Newcastle United FC for a day against Liverpool

May 2013
Fast Track 100 event at the family home of Sir Richard Branson in Oxfordshire

August 2013
Three local start-ups take part in a Google+ Hangout with Sir Richard Branson and Paypal founder Elon Musk

September 2013
Start-Ups ‘Weekend Box’ and ‘Baggers Originals’ were invited to Number 10 Downing Street

October 2013
Teesside fashion store ‘Look Good Feel Good’ wins Start-Up Loans Business Challenge prize worth £6,000

November 2013
100 new North East businesses trading following receipt of a Start-Up Loan

Richard Clark, Director of Workspace at PNE, said: “Project North East has been delighted to help these young people to launch their business here in the North East and Cumbria, with a start-up loan during 2013. We wish them all good luck for the future and hope that their businesses will be very successful for many years to come.

Pete Wood, Head of Social Enterprise Projects at Virgin Money added: “It is wonderful to be able to look back over such a fantastic year. The creation of these businesses is great news for the region and the popularity of the scheme demonstrates the innovation, creativity and drive we have in the North East and Cumbria.

“This scheme has given young entrepreneurs access to start-up funding, at a time when it might otherwise have been difficult, and has allowed these young business people to take those all important first steps into the world of business.”


Media Contacts:

Virgin Money Press Office
Tel: 0191 279 4676

Notes to Editors

The Start-Up Loans scheme for young entrepreneurs was formally launched at Virgin Money’s Gosforth operational headquarters on Tuesday 20 November 2012.

Virgin Money partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) to form a consortium in the delivery of ‘Start-Up Loans’ – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), through Start-Up Loans, is providing funding to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria. The initiative is aimed at young entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age. Loan sizes are an average of around £5,000.

PNE is regulated under the Consumer Credit Act and is responsible for making the loans and administering the full lending process. PNE has nearly thirty years experience of successfully undertaking this type of work in the region, partnering organisations such as the Sainsbury family trusts and Royal Dutch Shell. More information about PNE can be found at