• Anna White, Enterprise and property correspondent

Bluesky and a host of other UK companies have been propelled by multi-million pound funding courtesy

The Government's Regional Growth Fund, available to RBS, NatWest and Lombard’s small and mid tier commercial customers, lent £70m in the first round of funding in 2011, helping 1000 businesses grow, safeguarding more than 9,000 jobs in the UK and creating 2,500 more.

For aerial photography company Bluesky International this funding opened the international door to exporting technical skills and services.

Based in Coalville, Leicestershire, the aerial photography specialist received around £750,000 through the scheme which enabled the purchase hi-tech kit.

The system in question uses lasers shot from the plane to the ground to measure the height of buildings and vegetation, but is also integrated with thermal equipment. This allowed Bluesky to complete a piece of work for Slough Borough Council identifying illegal dwellings in sheds and outbuildings that were being secretly heated. “Our recent success can be directly attributed to the Regional Growth Fund and we’re now able to take on jobs overseas. We have worked in Finland on a project spotting unhealthy trees from the air, and now have a presence across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” said Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky.

Turnover has increased 50pc since the acquisition of the system in 2012, profit is up 75pc, and the 20-strong company has taken on another ten staff. “It has absolutely transformed our business, and celebrating our ten year anniversary last week, I realised we are now being presented with the biggest opportunities we’ve ever had and the most exciting of times,” she said.

The Regional Growth Fund is designed to support businesses in local communities across the UK that are usually dependent on public sector for jobs, to drive a private sector-led recovery, and now has a further £25m to lend.

Autocraft Drivetrain - the UK’s largest independent engine re-manufacturer - recently needed to upgrade their equipment in order to retain business. Based in Grantham, the manufacturer secured £100,000 from the fund to buy new machinery, securing 135 existing roles and creating 15 new jobs. Chris Sullivan, chief executive of RBS and NatWest Corporate Division, said: “We are determined to play our part in supporting the economic recovery.”


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