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Email: tom.clarke@thefsegroup.com

Alton Business Secures £200,000 to Fund Further Growth

The FSE Group, which manages a series of funds to support businesses during different stages of their growth, is now supporting Plantwork Systems with a £100,000 Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan, together with a further £100,000 South East Sustainability Loan (SESLF).

The SESLF provides funding to businesses operating in new and emerging ecologically driven market sectors or those contributing to a reduction in the region’s ecological footprint, either by delivering products or technologies that can help achieve this, or by delivering innovation in other business sectors that result in more resource efficient business practices.

Trading since 2010, Plantwork Systems based in Alton, Hampshire has a current portfolio of five products that are able to work in synergy to cater for the various stages of wastewater treatment. With the constant regulatory demands for increased water quality, the Company has invested heavily in R&D which has enabled the Company to offer innovative and propriety solutions. Each of their products offers numerous advantages, whether that is a smaller footprint, ease of use, being more environmentally sustainable or cost efficient. There are over 5,000 sewage treatment works serving populations of less than 200 in the UK and the majority of these are old and in need of replacement. The solutions offered by Plantwork Systems are an ideal fit for these locations.

John de Moraes, Executive Chairman at Plantwork Systems comments, “Our technology combines new wastewater treatment design with existing processes, to offer the industry an innovative solution to all wastewater treatment needs. The funding we have received from the FSE Group will have a two-fold impact on the company. It will allow us to research and develop new products and also significantly increase our employee numbers in order to meet demand.”

Derek Ellis, Fund Manager at the FSE Group which manages the Expansion Loan Scheme on behalf of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), “John and the team at Plantwork Systems have an enormous amount of experience and are well positioned for significant growth. We are excited to be supporting them on this stage of their journey and look forward to seeing them build upon the foundations that have already been put in place.”

Dr Mike Short, CBE Chairman of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “It is interesting to see innovative technology being applied to a vital sector such as waste water treatment to help reduce environmental footprint and optimise cost. Plantwork Systems demonstrates that there is really no limit to how, or where innovation can apply and we are delighted that they have received the funding they need to break new grounds in scientific research and contribute to the economic growth of our LEP area.”

The Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme is part of the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator, a £5.5million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which also includes an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £200,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-expansion-loan-scheme or contact Derek Ellis at derek.ellis@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 607302.

For more information about Plantwork Systems please visit: www.plantworksystems.com

 

Export Growth Beckons with 3rd Regional Growth Loan

As a respected brand with many years of producing award winning stereo equipment, Cyrus Audio has been at the forefront of British manufacturing in the advanced hi-fi sector for over 30 years. Having first sought a Regional Growth Loan (RGL) from Finance East back in 2013, the company has continually looked to innovate, furthering its range of accessible, high quality products, whilst pursuing an ambitious growth strategy.

With two previous Regional Growth Loans being used primarily for product development, Cyrus will use this current £125,000 loan to focus its efforts on the export market. Until now, only 30% of business has come from overseas compared to around 80% as a sector average. Strategic changes have been essential in order to position the business for this expansion, as MD Simon Freethy explains:

“We are extremely proud of our British design and manufacture but in order to meet the capacity demands of an international customer base, we had to accept that changes would be necessary. First, we took the decision to appoint a number of Far East component suppliers. We have put a lot of effort into securing suppliers that can produce parts to our exact specifications, which will then be used in the UK, where product design, assembly and testing will remain for the majority of Cyrus products. Second, we have granted a licensing deal to a Chinese manufacturer for a sub $500 dollar product. Again, this will be made to the high Cyrus spec that our customers have come to expect but will be made, and distributed in China and the USA, by our new license partner.”

In addition the Cyrus team has also appointed a Chinese distributor for its plus $500 range, resulting in a significant increase in 2017 export sales, which are above expectations. The Regional Growth Loan will be used to create new roles to support the Europe and North America distributor channels as well as product development and sales support in China.

Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East, says: “Cyrus boasts a history of product innovation supported by extensive technical expertise. Following an assessment of the global market opportunity, the management team has adapted its sales and distribution model accordingly and is now able to capitalise on the strong sales pipeline it has developed, placing the business on the road to significant growth and profitability.”

The Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS) is managed by Finance East, part of The FSE Group, on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England and British Business Bank. The RGLS is available to established, incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100k, show strong growth potential and have a medium to long-term funding requirement to deliver that growth.

For more information about the Regional Growth Loan Scheme contact Stuart Ager on 07825 699407 or email stuart.ager@thefsegroup.com.

Technology Solutions Provider for the Shipping Industry Secures Expansion Loan

Farnborough based shipping technology company, Locus Software Limited, are the latest company to be supported through the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator. The company have successfully secured a £150,000 Expansion Loan to help increase their resources to facilitate the next stage of their growth.

Established 10 years ago Locus Software offers an Enterprise system that acts as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for ocean shipping companies. This pioneering approach to container tracking, operations management and document handling brings the somewhat outdated back-office processes of the shipping industry up to speed and onto the cloud. Locus’s Odyssey platform is already proven to the market, becoming popular thanks to its powerful integration with ecommerce capabilities and collaboration tools. Existing customers and strategic partners alike reap the benefits of working with a company where the management team have in-depth industry knowledge and proven technology business experience. Partnerships with influential members of the shipping sector, WNS and INTTRA, only strengthen Locus’s growing reputation, ensuring that Odyssey is the obvious software solution for the liner shipping industry.

In order to keep up with growing demand Locus Software will be using the funding to expand the development team and enhance their working facilities. Thus allowing them to quickly and efficiently implement the system for new customers.

John Squire, Founder & CEO at Locus Software comments, “Our Odyssey Platform is currently the only cloud based solution available in the ocean shipping sector. So many other sectors have made the transition to cloud based databases and management systems and now the shipping industry is ready to embrace this upgrade too. Odyssey can deliver fantastic features in a much more cost effective and speedy process than traditional software with the added bonus of not needing to maintain multiple versions and the disruption of major upgrades.”

Derek Ellis, Fund Manager at the FSE Group, “The Odyssey platform is a complete game-changer in the shipping industry. It already has users in more than 40 countries across the world and the potential is there for rapid growth. These are really exciting times for the company and we wish John and his team all the success for the future.”

Dr Mike Short, CBE Chairman of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “This is a great timing for Locus Software and a testament to the recently released Science and Innovation Audit for the South of England, which demonstrates our regional economy’s strength in applying innovative technology to the Marine & Maritime sector. We are excited that the company has secured the loan they need to expand, drive efficiencies in the maritime sector and create more jobs for our LEP area.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is a £5.5m initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. It includes a growth equity fund and provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding of £50,000 to £200,000 for activities delivering high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-funding-escalator or contact Derek Ellis at derek.ellis@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 607302.

For more information about Locus Software visit: www.locussoftware.com

Growth Funding for Customer Service Platform Helping Companies Manage Social Media Enquiries

A business specialising in software for customer contact centres is the latest company to receive investment from the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund. The Farnborough based venture has secured the funding as part of a £900,000 round which includes £195,000 angel monies facilitated by The FSE Investor Network, alongside institutional investors.

Sentiment’s offering focuses on providing large businesses with an effective platform to deal with the increasing amount of customer contact that is made via social networks and messaging apps. Within the next few years it is anticipated that social media and messaging apps will overtake phone and email as the primary method for customer service interactions. However, the majority of contact centres do not believe their technology is fit for purpose and are looking for better ways to manage these exchanges.

Leon Chaddock, Sentiment Founder, CEO and CTO, explains: “our software allows large enterprises to manage enquiries and complaints on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, from within their contact centres – currently this is mostly done separately as it requires different skills and technology. By bringing these functions together, our clients benefit from significantly reduced spend in this area along with a facility to integrate their contact with other areas of the business and improve their customer relationships – a large retail clients has, with our software, become one of the fastest social media responders in the UK.”

With a platform offering a solution unmatched by its competitors, Sentiment has a strong and growing pipeline adding to its list of existing clients, which currently includes several top 20 retailers, a global online marketplace and a parcel delivery company.

The funds raised will be used to scale up sales and marketing both within the UK and overseas, particularly the US where it is already growing traction.

Ralph Singleton, Fund Manager at The FSE Group which manages the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund, adds: “this is a sector experiencing huge growth that is set to continue; spending on social monitoring and management tools is expected to grow nearly tenfold in the 5 years between 2014 and 2019, which will see global spend reach around £18 billion in that time. With its superior product offering, growing blue chip client base and first mover advantage, Sentiment is well-positioned to take advantage of this upsurge and we are delighted to be supporting them on their journey.”

Dr Mike Short, CBE Chairman of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “We are excited that the growth ambitions of Sentiment can be supported by the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund. Our LEP area is a powerhouse for digital enabling technologies and we are always keen to support businesses like Sentiment that demonstrate strength in this important sector.”

The Enterprise M3 Growth Fund is part of the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator, a £5.5million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which also includes an expansion loan scheme, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £200,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/enterprise-m3-growth-fund/ or contact Ralph Singleton at ralph.singleton@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 607307.

2nd Regional Growth Loan for Innovative Veterinary Information Service

Since its first Regional Growth Loan from Finance East in 2014, Cambridgeshire based Vetstream has continued to provide detailed online clinical information services to the veterinary sector, worldwide. In that time the company has extended both its product range and geographical reach and is now ready to invest in significant growth. A second Regional Growth Loan of £150,000 has been secured to aid this expansion.

Its core ‘Vetlexicon’ offering contains a range of species based modules providing vets across the globe with peer reviewed material, which is updated on a weekly basis. The information, which is available on a subscription basis, contains thousands of articles, images, videos etc. in numerous categories, to support vets in their clinical practice. Since 2014 the Vetlexicon suite has expanded from its original four modules – Canis (dog), Felis (cat), Equis (horse) and Lapis (rabbit) – to now include Exotis (covering a range of species from Guinea Pigs to “exotics”) and soon Bovis (cattle) will also be added.

Vetstream Managing Director, Dr Mark Johnston, says: “As well as developing new modules, we have concentrated heavily on increasing our traction in new markets. We have established a relationship with the World Small Veterinary Association (WSAVA) which has resulted in Vetlexicon now being available in all of their 82 country members, with licences currently secured in 21 countries. We have made good progress since our first loan from Finance East – there have been some challenges to overcome but we have learnt from them and are in a stronger position to step up our expansion and really take advantage of the global opportunities now open to us.”

The funds will be used to support the overall growth strategy. In terms of product this will initially focus on launching the Bovis module and extending the Exotis module then, over the next four years, see the development of Suis (pig), Ovis & Capris (sheep and goat) and Piscis (fish). This will be accompanied by an investment in marketing and the creation of new roles including an advertising sales manager and a business development manager.

In addition to the core Vetlexicon product suite, further opportunities are being exploited in the provision of Vetacademy, an online CPD management system, and Practis, an online support tool for practice managers as well capitalising on advertising revenue potential.

Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East, adds: “The Vetstream team has developed a clear product development and enhancement strategy, supported by new personnel and marketing investment, designed to achieve considerable growth across the business. The global animal health market is on the increase, having gone from $13billion to $15billion since our last loan. Vetstream has established itself as a leading provider of quality information and, with no obvious competition in the sector, is well-positioned to build on its early success.”

The Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS) is managed by Finance East, part of The FSE Group, on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England and British Business Bank. The RGLS is available to established, incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100k, show strong growth potential and have a medium to long-term funding requirement to deliver that growth.

For more information about the Regional Growth Loan Scheme contact Stuart Ager on 07825 699407 or email stuart.ager@thefsegroup.com.

ATP Projects Receives EM3 Expansion Loan

A Hampshire company is set for growth with the help from a £90,000 loan from the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme. Based in Bentley, near Alton, ATP Projects provides bespoke manufacturing, branding, laser marking and technical support services, helping companies across the country to stand-out from the crowd.

The company was founded in 2013 by Managing Director Andrew Pennington, who has extensive experience in the engineering and audio-visual sectors. As well as providing customised services the company also offers a wide range of standard manufactured products geared towards the theatre and entertainment sector.

Andrew Pennington commented, “We are a small but growing firm focused at giving a personal service to our customers. Everything we produce is carried out in-house and we pride ourselves on the quality of our work. This funding will allow us to expand our team with the recruitment of a new manufacturing technician and also help us with the development and roll-out of our new eCommerce platform. The platform will include a custom panel builder, allowing clients to design their own panel work on-line, which will enable us to reach businesses of all sizes.”

James Edwards, Senior Fund Manager at the FSE Group, “Andrew has a great deal of experience in the engineering sector and in a short space of time has developed an impressive list of clients across the entertainment and sporting industries. We are looking forward to working with the team at ATP Projects whilst they achieve their full potential for growth.”

Dr Mike Short, CBE Chairman of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We are pleased to see ATP Projects benefit from our Expansion Loan Scheme. The investment will help them overcome the financial barriers to expansion, create new jobs and thrive. Small and medium scale businesses contribute significantly to our regional economy, so a key priority in our Strategic Economic Plan, is to support this important sector by delivering the infrastructure that enables businesses to innovate, improve productivity and drive sustainable economic growth in our LEP area.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is a £5.5m initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. It includes a growth equity fund and provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding of £50,000 to £200,000 for activities delivering high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-funding-escalator or contact James Edwards at james.edwards@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608531.

For more information about ATP Projects visit: www.atpprojects.co.uk

Digital Music Platform Secures Expansion Loan

A Brighton based business that offers a pre-produced library of music and software that can be licensed for use in videos is the latest company to be supported by the Coast to Capital Funding Escalator. Founded in 2014 by former composer Sebastian Jaeger and software developer Christopher Young, Filmstro is changing the landscape of media production. From budding teenage film makers to the BBC, customers of all size and budget are taking advantage of this pioneering software. What started out as an evening and weekend project has turned into a company able to boast an impressive 40,000 customer downloads in its first two years and an enviable rate of 24% customer increase month on month.

The Filmstro software allows users to customise the momentum, depth and power of the music compositions available in their extensive music library. Film producers are acutely aware of the power of music but they often lack the skills and training to adapt the music to their needs, instead being forced to film around the score. Filmstro does away with this and enables film makers to embrace their creative freedom.

To facilitate the rapid growth of the business Filmstro have secured £200,000 from the Coast to Capital Expansion Loan Scheme. The funding will be used to scale-up the Filmstro team, with the company projecting to triple their employee numbers over the next two years.

Sebastian Jaeger, Co-Founder and CEO of Filmstro, “As a former freelancer I know how frustrating it can be when a project is restricted. That’s the purpose of our software, to remove these restrictions whist still being affordable and adaptive. Music is integral to films and we recognise the needs of both composers and producers so that everyone involved in production has the best experience. Anyone can use Filmstro. No matter how big or small your project, we have music for everyone.”

Jon Cornell, Fund Manager at the FSE Group, “We are delighted to be supporting Filmstro through their next phase of growth and are excited to be part of their ongoing journey. With the market for online music and video content growing incredibly quickly the innovative Filmstro product is well placed to take the market by storm. We wish Sebastian and his team all the best for the future.”

The Coast to Capital Expansion Loan Scheme is part of the Coast to Capital Funding Escalator, a £5million initiative funded by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which also includes a growth equity fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £500,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the Coast to Capital region.

For more information about the Coast to Capital Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/coast-capital-funding-escalator or contact Jon Cornell at Jon.Cornell@thefsegroup.com tel: 07786 912674.

For more information about Filmstro please visit: www.filmstro.com

Micro-Home Designer and Manufacturer Secures Growth Loan

Smart Offices, based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk is set for expansion after receiving £200,000 from the East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme. Set up in 2006 Smart Offices have been designing, manufacturing and installing garden offices for customers across the country.

The company offers 6 different ranges of state-of-the-art garden office buildings, which can all be tailored to each customer’s requirements. Each smart building is fully personalised enabling customers to choose the finer detail of their office space, with a wide range of choices available, including windows, doors, furniture, blinds and lighting.

With the rise of house prices and monthly rents increasing Smart Offices have spent the last few years developing a pioneering solution for the housing problem faced by many. A large section of society are affected, ranging from, adult children who want to move out but cannot afford to, graduates back home from University but struggling to find somewhere to live and elderly relatives unable to pay the astronomical prices commanded by retirement homes. These are the people that Smart Offices Managing Director Charlie Dalton had in mind when they developed their solution; Zedbox. Micro-homes designed as safe and comfortable residential dwellings.

Charlie Dalton, Managing Director at Smart Offices comments, “The Zedbox concept offers a spacious home with a powerful style statement. We offer our customers affordable studio living with each self-contained home being assembled in your garden in as little as three days. We are incredibly excited about the future of Zedbox, with the early feedback that we have received being very encouraging. The funding will enable us to launch Zedbox with the level of marketing and enthusiasm that it deserves.”

Hayley Johnson, Fund Manager at Finance East, “With an experienced management team and a growing reputation for skilled craftsmanship, Smart Offices are well positioned to take the market by storm with the launch of their new Zedbox range. We are delighted to be funding them to meet their goals and look forward to working with Charlie and his team.”

The East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme is managed by Finance East, part of The FSE Group, on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England, and British Business Bank. The RGLS is available to established, incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100k, show strong growth potential and have a medium to long-term funding requirement to deliver that growth.

For more information about the Regional Growth Loan Scheme contact Hayley Johnson on 07717 805780 or email hayley.johnson@thefsegroup.com

For more information about Zedbox please visit: www.zedbox.co.uk

Rags and Bert’s: Fetching Fun for the Dogs of Berkshire

Reading Business Celebrates Opening of New Kennel Facility.

Reading based business Rags and Bert’s, which caters for all canine needs in a fun, safe environment is set for growth after securing a £30,000 loan from Thames Valley Berkshire Pre-Revenue Commercialisation Loan Scheme.

Set up in 2016, Rags and Bert’s offers a wide range of services including, Doggy Day Care, an overnight stay at the luxurious Dog Hotel, dog grooming and training and behavioural classes. The company opened their doors earlier this year, with the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art centre, based on the Loverock Road Industrial Estate. With the business growing at a fast pace and with numerous happy pooches, Rags and Bert’s are expanding their offering with the opening of a new kennel facility.

Julia O’Gorman, Managing Director at Rags & Bert’s comments, “Rags & Bert’s lives by the moto ‘where dogs play and stay’ and our dedicated, spacious 3000 square foot facility is the perfect place for your canine buddy. I came up with the idea of Rags and Bert’s whilst living in California and have modelled the business on the USA style of doggy daycare. What we offer is an alternative to dog walkers, with all dogs being looked after and entertained under one roof. The funding comes at an exciting time for us as we look to scale up the business with the opening of our kennels facility later this week. The luxury kennels will enable us to house 16 dogs overnight in a safe and fun environment”

Cheryl Weeks, Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the TVB Pre-Revenue Commercialisation Loan Scheme on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “Julia and her team of Pack Leaders have a wealth of experience and qualifications in animal health and care. This coupled with their state of the art facility, makes us believe that this is the perfect company to be supported through our new Pre-Revenue Commercialisation Loan Scheme. We are delighted to be supporting the company and wish them all the success for the future.”

The TVB Pre-Revenue Commercialisation Loan Scheme is part of the TVB Funding Escalator, a £8.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The escalator, which also includes a Post-Revenue Commercialisation Loan Scheme, an Expansion Loan Scheme and a Growth Equity Fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £25,000 and £250,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the TVB Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator/ or contact Cheryl Weeks at cheryl.weeks@thefsegroup.com tel: 07866 835143.

Further Funding for Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator Client – Widgety

“Derek Ellis, Fund Manager at The FSE Group, “We are delighted to show our continued support to Damien and his team. Since the initial funding in September last year the company has grown significantly and now works with over 200 travel agents. This additional £50,000 will enable the company to upgrade the platform with the latest software and to increase the number of employees to meet demand.”

Find out more about Widgety here: http://www.widgety.org/

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Online Content Sharing Software Platform Secures Expansion Loan

Hampshire based software company Widgety is set for expansion with the help from a £100,000 loan from the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme.

Through a neatly designed interface businesses are able to quickly and easily update, monitor and distribute their content to any website. Launched in 2012 Widgety was first aimed at the cruise and travel sector, with clients including Regent Seven Seas Cruise and Advantage Travel. The company has recently adapted the platform to cater for the small and medium sized enterprise market, allowing attractions and businesses to showcase their events and promotions seamlessly across multiple third party sites.

Damian Gevertz, Managing Director at Widgety, “The concept is a simple one, we identified the problems that businesses have when updating a vast amount of information about their company online, and came up with the Widgety platform that does everything for you. Widgety works across all devices allowing content uploaded just once to update automatically everywhere”

Derek Ellis, Fund Manager at the FSE Group, “With strong existing contracts and the mechanisms in place for growth, we believe that Widgety can continue to excel and enter new exciting markets. We wish them all the best for the future and look forward to helping them reach their future goals.”

The funding is being used for new staff and software development to finish the remaining key modules needed to bring the product together and move towards full automation and support. This will allow Widgety to grow from its current base geographically.

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is a £5.5m initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. It includes a growth equity fund and provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding of £50,000 to £200,000 for activities delivering high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-funding-escalator or contact Derek Ellis at derek.ellis@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 607302.