B-North, the Manchester-based firm building an SME lending bank for the UK, has secured in excess of £2m of fund raising from new and existing investors through equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and Growthfunders, adding to the £4.2 million it has raised in previous rounds.

The news follows the announcement in December that B-North has selected Newcastle Strategic Solutions Limited to provide its deposit-taking solution as it moves towards scheduled launch in the first half of 2020.

The fundraise will allow B-North to continue the planned expansion of its workforce and infrastructure, in line with launch. Essential lending solutions for SMEs will be initiated through the establishment of its regional ‘Lending Pods’, the first of which is expected to open in Manchester in Q2 2020. B-North’s proposed regional pod model and cloud banking technology will allow it to lend up to ten times faster than other banks in order to help SMEs grow and develop.

Jonathan Thompson, Co-founder & CEO of B-North, said: “The strength of investor response is testament to the B-North offering and the quality and efficiency of lending that we can deliver to help SMEs fulfil their potential, thereby driving the UK economy forward.”

Throughout 2019, B-North has consistently delivered on its goal to build a bank for SMEs’ specific lending needs. In September, it announced that its cloud-based system would be jointly run by nCino and Mambu, the first time that both providers have integrated their solutions for business lending. This first-of-its-kind platform will provide a highly efficient “minimum hassle” service to B-North’s SME customers.

In Q3 2019, B-North was invited by the Regulator to submit its application for a Banking Licence, following positive feedback on its business model.

B-North also appointed Ron Emerson, first Chair of the British Business Bank, as its Chair. As head of the UK government's economic development bank, Ron was responsible for improving access to finance for the small and mid-sized business sector. During his three years at the helm of BBB, the bank mobilised around £7 billion of new money  for the sector, funded more than 40,000 new start-ups and delivered the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine funds totalling in excess of £600 million.

The B-North proposition is important to the future prosperity of the UK as there are 5.6 million small businesses currently operating, comprising 61% of the UK workforce. This is expected to increase as the UK’s relationship with the EU evolves and it becomes more reliant on “home-grown” enterprise.

Jonathan Thompson added: “There has never been a more pressing time to deliver fast, efficient funding to SMEs. They have been the backbone of the UK economy for a very long time, yet they suffer lending issues as big banks focus on big corporations or the man on the street. We cannot have UK businesses abandoned by the banking industry because – now, more than ever, they need our support. It is the B-North team’s intention to serve the UK SME lending market with the utmost efficiency and understanding, delivering lending funds in as quick as ten working days.”