Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 12:08 UK

150m fund for growing businesses

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The money from Europe will help small and medium sized businesses

A new £150m European fund which the assembly government says will support more than 800 businesses and create up to 15,000 jobs is being launched.

The pot of cash will be made up of £75m from the EU and £60m from the Welsh Assembly Government, via the European Regional Development Fund.

The Jeremie scheme (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) is a first for the UK.

It will provide capital for growing small and medium sized businesses.

The fund is particularly important in the current economic climate and aims to encourage regional economic growth.

Welcoming the new funding, First Minister Rhodri Morgan said it was a "good day for our small and medium sized businesses".

"The launch of this innovative new fund - a first in the UK - will be of tremendous value in helping Wales to ride out the recession and positioning companies to take full advantage of the economic upturn that will follow.

One advantage of this approach is that it will provide an investment legacy for Welsh businesses
Ieuan Wyn Jones, deputy first minister

"This latest announcement again demonstrates how the Welsh Assembly Government is agile and innovative in devising new and practical ways to helping companies to surmount the current global economic and financial challenges, and grow for the future."

The money will enable Finance Wales plc, a commercial funding provider to small and medium sized business in Wales, owned by the assembly government, to make debt and equity investments in up-and-coming businesses throughout Wales.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "One advantage of this approach is that it will provide an investment legacy for Welsh businesses.

"Those using the scheme will pay off money borrowed as they grow, and the funding can then be reinvested - so the benefit will even outlast the current European Structural Funds programmes."

Siân Lloyd Jones, chief executive of Finance Wales plc, said the funding provided a "great opportunity".

"Co-investment will form an important part of our ongoing investment strategy and we will be working closely with banks and other funders, including business angels and venture capital funds, to enhance the array of commercial funding available to businesses," she added.

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