I attended an excellent event put on by the Combined Authority for the Liverpool City Region on Friday for the launch of the new approach to the SIF.

The SIF, the Significant Investment Fund, has been in operation for some time in the region as a way of focusing all available public monies on investment in transformational projects. An example of its use was on the permanent dredge of the Liverpool Bay approaches to the Mersey to enable the next generation ships to use the various port facilities in the River Mersey.

The new approach for the SIF proposed by the Combined Authority is to step away from a grant first mentality. The SIF will now be invested into transformational projects in a manner that enables a reasonable prospect of getting the funds back (and potentially a real return) on the investment made, so that those monies can be recycled back into new projects. Debt, and even equity, structures are proposed. Grant funding would be a last resort.

An Investment Committee has been formed for the SIF. A team has been recruited to look for and manage investments. The new SIF is due to be ready to consider proposals in the coming weeks. 

Both Steve Rotherham and Mark Bousefield (who is heading up the SIF) spoke excellently. With the new SIF and also the "One Front Door" project, they are creating platforms with which businesses can really engage. It is now really important that from within the City Region our entrepreneurs and existing business come up with interesting transformational business proposals to benefit from this funding.