As well as increasing the size of its growth fund for small businesses, NatWest has launched a range of other initiatives aimed to help growing companies succeed

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NatWest partnered with HooYu to introduce the technology

NatWest has doubled down on the cash it is making available to small and medium UK businesses via its growth lending scheme, taking the fund value up to £6bn.

The move coincides with the bank’s latest update on the Growth Funding programme, which launched last year and has already approved almost the full £3bn allocation that was initially sanctioned for investment.

NatWest commercial and private banking CEO Alison Rose said: “Whatever the circumstances facing businesses throughout the UK, we are passionate about helping them achieve their goals and are flexible in how we do so.

“The bank is truly national in its approach to helping businesses via our regional accelerator hubs, the work through our regional boards and dedicated teams in every corner of the UK.

“We recognise that the challenges businesses face evolve all the time, which is why we try to innovate whenever we can.”


NatWest growth fund will help UK SMEs navigate Brexit uncertainty

NatWest cites Brexit uncertainty as one of the big challenges facing UK businesses today, and the newly available funds will be used to help SMEs navigate this tricky climate.

Last week, the UK government announced £200m in extra funding for SMEs through the state-owned British Business Bank – a similar move designed to reassure young companies they will have access to investment opportunities after Brexit.

Barclays has taken similar action, with the creation last month of a £14bn lending fund designed to help UK companies cope with the uncertain climate caused by the UK’s impending withdrawal from Europe.

The NatWest growth fund will also support green initiatives – with £800m of the initial financing having already been directed into renewable and efficient energy projects.

natwest growth fund
A significant portion of the NatWest growth fund has been allocated to green energy projects

The SME-focused scheme forms part of the institution’s commercial and business banking division, which supported total lending of more than £100bn in 2018.

NatWest has further plans to develop a network of “accelerator hubs” for early-stage start-ups throughout the UK, and recently announced the opening of a new location in Manchester.

It has also partnered with Lloyds Bank and Barclays to pilot a “business banking hub” project, which will create places for SMEs to manage cash and cheque transactions amid a changing economy where the resources for accessing and managing cash are coming under increasing pressure.


NatWest’s intellectual property funding product

Through its Lombard asset finance division, NatWest is also working on an intellectual property funding product, which helps businesses unlock capital invested in intangible assets, like software.

Lombard managing director Ian Isaac said: “Businesses are increasingly reliant on software and other intellectual property to provide value to their customers or efficiencies within their own operating models, and are spending significant amounts on research and development.

“Traditionally, borrowing from banks against these types of intellectual assets has not been straightforward.

“We, however, have launched a product specifically designed to take into account the high value that these assets represent within a business, and can provide finance linked to that value to help firms grow as a result.”