West Midlands Mayor to open new SME facility as region named a FinTech hotspot


  • Mayor Andy Street to visit Birmingham-based AE Aerospace to open new facility as part of its ongoing expansion
  • West Midlands named FinTech hotspot, with 3,800 jobs unlocked and £220m contributed to the economy as a result of SMEs accessing finance through Funding Circle in 2018
  • An increasing number of SMEs turning to FinTech, such as online lending platforms, for finance over the banks

The Mayor of the West Midlands will today visit a leading small business in Birmingham to open a new facility and discover how an increasing number of SMEs in the region are turning to financial technology or ‘FinTech’ to power their growth.

Mayor Andy Street will visit AE Aerospace, a manufacturing firm specialising in precision aerospace components, to learn why the team chose FinTech over the banks to access the finance they needed to expand. In just five years, AE Aerospace has seen rapid growth and has increased its workforce from 24 to 63. Showing no signs of slowing down, the business will today open a new facility to help them develop new products and reach new markets. To support their expansion, the team accessed finance through Funding Circle, a ‘FinTech’ or online lending platform that allows investors seeking attractive returns to lend directly to SMEs.

AE Aerospace is just one example of a wider trend unfolding across the region. A report published in April by Oxford Economics found that the West Midlands is the leading region outside of London where SMEs are turning to online lending platforms for finance, driving economic output as a result. In 2018 alone, small businesses in the West Midlands used the loans accessed through Funding Circle to unlock 3,800 jobs and contribute £220 million to the local economy.*

Small businesses account for 60% of private sector employment and 50% of UK GDP,** yet continue to struggle to access finance through traditional sources ten years on from the financial crisis. As a result, an increasing number of businesses are moving away from a “bank first” approach to finance. In fact, 84% of businesses approached Funding Circle first ahead of a bank, and 90% say they would return to the platform first in the future.***

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“The West Midlands’ small businesses are among the most innovative and resourceful in the country. So it is no surprise that they are finding modern ways to finance their growth, create jobs and power the local economy.

“The team at AE Aerospace have shown that Birmingham is expanding as a centre for high-skilled industry and are clearly setting an example for other entrepreneurs funding their development in this way.

“It is great to see new sources of finance like a loan from Funding Circle available to our local business, and their new report demonstrates the positive impact this is having.”

Peter Bruch, Managing Director & Co-Owner of AE Aerospace said:

"We are an ambitious company and in recent years we have been looking to expand to meet customer demand. We couldn’t have done this in our old facility, and the ease with which we got the loan from Funding Circle has had a massive impact in a short space of time.”

James Meekings, co-founder and UK Managing Director of Funding Circle said:

“Small businesses drive much-needed job creation and power our local economies on an incredible scale. Yet while bank lending to large firms has increased by 43% over the past three years, it’s decreased to small businesses by 3%. That’s why helping them to grow is at the forefront of our mission; and it’s incredibly rewarding to know that when £1 is lent through our platform, small businesses contribute an additional £2 to our economy.”

When it comes to accessing finance, Funding Circle offers the 21st-century approach; a simple online application powered by innovative technology and advanced data analytics, accessible no matter where a business is based. Since 2010, Funding Circle investors including 81,000 retail investors, banks, asset management companies, insurance companies, government-backed entities and funds have lent £5 billion to more than 49,000 businesses in the UK.