The Northern Power-house economy is bigger than that of Norway or Poland, according to a report published to coincide with the MADE Festival in Sheffield today.
It is home to more than one million private sector businesses which generate 19 per cent of the country’s income.
The figures are in Spotlight, a report by the British Business Bank on the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which is being launched early next year.
Chief executive Keith Morgan was speaking at the Crucible Theatre this morning , at the start of the MADE Festival for entrepreneurs.
He said: “The fund is an exceptionally important programme for the Bank. Working with the 10 LEPs in the North of England, we are bringing together a range of funding sources to help small businesses achieve their growth ambitions, revitalise local economies and create jobs.
“I am proud to be launching this spotlight report in the month that we mark our second anniversary.
“It is very encouraging to see the impact our programmes have made in unlocking finance for UK smaller businesses, delivering £4 billion of funding through our 90 partners across the country.”
The £400m fund aims to help smaller businesses close the North-South funding gap.
It will use cash from the European Regional Development Fund and £50m from the bank.
Today’s report also identifies ‘challenges’ within the North, including productivity, which is below the national average. And only seven per cent of equity investments in SMEs by value went to the North last year.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said: “We are committed to building a Northern Powerhouse which helps the great cities and towns of the North pool their strengths to take on the world.
“Now millions will be invested into the Northern Powerhouse to back local businesses with the power and resources they need to achieve their potential.”
Small business minister, Margot James said: “The British Business Bank has made a significant impact.”