News

Media Enquiries Please contact Tom Clarke
Tel: 01276 608513
Email: tom.clarke@thefsegroup.com

Advanced Ophthalmic Systems Eyes Growth with New Funding Round

Advanced Ophthalmic Systems (AOS), a MedTech company specialising in pioneering and advanced software for the ophthalmic industry is the latest company to be supported by the Coast to Capital Growth Equity Fund. The Croydon based venture successfully completed the funding round which includes angel monies facilitated by The FSE Investor Network.

AOS has spent 3 years developing over 200+ algorithms and in the back end of last year they released their first digital analytics software product, AOS Anterior. The AOS Anterior automatically assesses multiple eye pathologies with Gold Standard accuracy & repeatability. The software has been developed to be visually informative and striking, allowing opticians to increase customer engagement and understanding during examinations, whilst decreasing the amount of time patients need to sit in the chair. All results are provided instantly, with simplified reporting to assist with future follow up visits and the in-built reporting function generates a fully customisable report for each patient.

The funding will enable AOS to expand its already impressive team in both the business development and product development departments. This will give the company the manpower it needs to cement itself as one of the leaders in the eye health sector.

Dr Eduardo Mangieri, CEO at Advanced Ophthalmic Systems, explains, “Our target is to provide innovative solutions in the ophthalmic market for the early detection and monitoring of various pathologies.  Our technology provides automatic ophthalmic diagnosis by delivering objective, digital imaging analytics during optical appointments. This increases patient understanding and more importantly reduces appointment times, leading to a far more punctual service.”

Avent Bezuidenhoudt, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, “We are delighted to be supporting AOS in this funding round. The company have developed a state-of-the-art product that will have such a positive impact for current and future ophthalmic patients. We are excited to see what the future holds for Eduardo and his team and look forward to working with them to achieve their goals.”

The Coast to Capital Growth Equity Fund 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 an expansion loan scheme, 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 Avent Bezuidenhoudt at avent.bezuidenhoudt@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608526.

 

First CIOSIF investment with £750k equity investment in wireless internet provider

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) has completed its first equity investment with a £750,000 equity stake in wireless internet service provider Wildanet, based at Goonhilly Earth Station, through appointed fund managers The FSE Group.

The investment is being match-funded by the FSE Angel network, private investors and Crowdcube as part of a £1.5m package. It will support Wildanet’s continued expansion across Cornwall and into Devon, targetting 12,000 new customers and creating an estimated 39 jobs over the next three years.

Wildanet uses state of the art wireless radio technology to provide superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas, with a guaranteed minimum speed of 30Mb/s, up to lightning-fast 1Gb/s.

Jake Berry MP, Minister for Local Growth, said: “Access to superfast broadband is vital to economic growth in our rural areas and this project will open the door to digital services for thousands of people across Cornwall. Harnessing the innovation of British business to grow prosperous communities is at the heart of this investment, and the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”

Ian Calvert, CEO and founder of Wildanet, which was set up in January 2017, said: “There is a real opportunity for us to radically improve connection speeds for homes and businesses across Cornwall currently experiencing low bandwidths. The funding from CIOSIF and our match funders will allow us to expedite our growth strategy and bring reliable superfast broadband to hard to reach areas.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, at the British Business Bank, said: “We are delighted that the fund’s first investment will not only create jobs but will also bring improved connectivity for homes and businesses, which is good news for productivity and growth. This deal is a great example of how the CIOSIF can leverage other investment to help growth-minded businesses realise their potential.”

 

Ian Calvert, Wildanet CEO; John Acornley, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP board member and Stuart Nicol, Head of Funds Cornwall, FSE Group.

LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Wildanet is a young tech start-up with ambitious growth plans and has developed its own technology to plug a clear gap in the market. CIOSIF was set up to encourage entrepreneurship and tackle a shortfall in start-up, early stage and development capital in the region, so we’re delighted with this first investment and wish Wildanet every success.”

Ralph Singleton, Senior Fund Manager, FSE Group, added: “Wildanet is helping to close the digital divide in rural areas by offering households and businesses across the county access to the same digital services as other parts of the UK. With a depth of industry experience gained with major players in the telecom sector, the management team are well-positioned to exploit this opportunity while helping to drive forward the regional economy in the process.”

The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region.

It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and is operated by appointed fund managers FSE Group.

CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. Further investment has come from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and HM Government.

For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk of follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2

About the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF)

  • The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will invest in Debt Finance and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
  • The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity,
  • The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the CIOS Local Enterprise Partnership and HMG grant funding.
  • The project is receiving up to £32m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
  • The Government has guaranteed all funding allocated through EU programmes until the end of 2020.  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/funding-from-eu-programmes-guaranteed-until-the-end-of-2020
  • The funds in which Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only.
  • The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which  impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb

About the British Business Bank

  • The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
  • The British Business Bank is currently supporting more than £5.5bn of finance to over 78,000 smaller businesses (as at end of June 2018).
  • As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. It has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). This guide impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Take the interactive journey at thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb or download/print a copy.
  • British Business Bank plc is a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.
  • British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.

About Wildanet

Wildanet Limited is a Cornish based wireless internet service provider (WISP) and is building a fixed wireless network across the hard to reach areas of Cornwall to provide superfast broadband internet services to those communities still disadvantaged by slow broadband. Its public space wifi technology is also the ideal solution for providing services to areas of high footfall. www.wildanet.com

 

£75,000 Follow-on Investment for Specialist IT Security Business

TriCIS, which deals in secure communications and IT equipment suitable for military and other governmental use, has received follow-on funding from the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator after a year of promising growth.

Based in Farnborough, the company operates in the niche ‘TEMPEST’ market and has experienced some considerable success in establishing itself in this highly specialist sector in less than two years. Since its first Enterprise M3 Growth Fund investment last year, the company has gained new contracts, significantly increased its product range and is set for a three-fold increase in revenue in the current financial year.

The £75,000 investment from the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund, which is managed by The FSE Group on behalf of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has been matched by existing investors and is part of an on-going funding round to attract new shareholders and finance future growth.

TriCIS CEO, Antony Summerfield comments: “Over the past year we have worked hard to develop leading edge products and gain new contracts. FSE has been a great support and worked with us to appoint our new CFO, Edward Leek. We have also strengthened our senior management team this year and are well positioned to drive the business forward. This latest funding will ensure that we have the growth capital required to take full advantage of the opportunities facing us.”

Ralph Singleton, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, adds: “Since our first investment TriCIS has strengthened both its offering and its management team. We are delighted to be continuing to support the company alongside other investors and look forward to helping Antony and the team grow the business even further.”

Kathy Slack, Director, Enterprise M3 LEP, says: “It is highly rewarding for Enterprise M3 to invest further in a remarkable company that has gained such a strong foothold in its sector after our initial investment. We look forward to seeing TriCIS grow and secure further its standing in this high-tech industry that will place a spotlight on the Enterprise M3 region as a specialist centre of economic growth.”

The Enterprise M3 Growth Fund is part of the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator, a £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 LEP. The escalator, which also includes an expansion loan scheme and a short term trade loan scheme, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 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 Paul Lyristis paul.lyristis@thefsegroup.com.

First Investment from New Enterprise M3 Growth Fund

A Basingstoke business helping gas network companies to prevent leaks has received the first equity investment from the newly re-launched Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator, financed by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and managed by The FSE Group.

Utonomy’s innovative technology works by remotely controlling the pressure levels of gas within the pipe network. Without this technology, pressure is controlled through manual adjustments made only twice a year in line with the move from summer to winter, due to the inaccessible nature of the infrastructure. This results in pressure being inaccurate for demand levels most of the time.

This £75,000 investment from the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund is the company’s second EM3 investment following an initial £150,000 from the original funding escalator in early 2017. The monies invested have helped to leverage significant private and public sector funding, resulting in a total £3.5million raised across the two funding rounds.

The new £10million Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator was launched in June following the end of the previous escalator, which had been supporting businesses across the area since 2014.

Utonomy CEO, Adam Kingdon, says: “the funding and support we have received from The FSE Group over the last 18 months has helped us attract further investment and move the business forward considerably. Since receiving our first EM3 investment we have been successful in obtaining grant and loan funding from Innovate UK and secured our first customer with a contract worth almost £0.5million. We are now gaining traction across the sector and look forward to making further progress with this new round of funding.”

Ralph Singleton, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, comments: “Since our first investment Utonomy has made tangible progress; staffing levels have more than doubled, additional funding has been secured, required regulatory certification has been achieved and the first contract has been won. The company is now in a strong position to really take advantage of the opportunities ahead and we are delighted to be supporting them as they continue on this journey.”

Kathy Slack, Director, Enterprise M3 LEP, adds: “Great ideas are at the heart of Enterprise M3 LEP’s funding programme and we are delighted to support Utonomy’s forward-thinking, clean growth solution to eradiating gas leaks. There is clear commitment to growing the company and we look forward to seeing it progress with our additional investment.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which includes an expansion loan scheme, a trade finance loan scheme and an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/enterprise-m3-growth-fund/ or contact Paul Lyristis at paul.lyristis@thefsegroup.com, tel: 01276 607307.

Internet of Things Provider set to Expand with EM3 Expansion Loan

A company using the Internet of Things to improve cost efficiencies for the public sector and other organisations is getting its growth plans underway with the help of a £150,000 Expansion Loan from the Enterprise M3 II Funding Escalator.

Using Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology, Barter for Things provides its customers with the means to transmit wirelessly, information that has historically been collected by people. More recognised wireless communication networks such as WiFi, Bluetooth or 3G/4G mobile are unsuitable for this type of data transmission either because they are too expensive, too power intensive or deliver over a short range. By contrast, LPWAN provides the means to communicate simple, low bit rate messages over distances of up to 3km in urban settings and 10km in rural locations, using very little power at a low cost.

Barter for Things works with its clients to custom build the required network infrastructure, i.e. masts and related technology, and integrates this with low power, long-life sensors placed at the data source.  As an example, the company has been working with Southampton City Council (SCC) this year to install a network of nine aerial sites on council-owned tower blocks. The resulting LPWAN coverage can be used to transmit data from linked sensors across the whole city, meaning SCC can now use Internet of Things technology for a range of tasks in its social housing provision such as monitoring of water quality and checking of smoke alarms. This not only provides the potential for huge cost-savings by eliminating the need for monthly manual inspections, but also helps alleviate the administrative compliance burden while providing a better, proactive service for tenants.

CEO and Founder, Alex Barter, says: “The growth of the Internet of Things has been restricted by a lack of appropriate wireless network provision. To address this, we have taken a customer led approach to building and integrating systems that focus on meeting the needs of our clients and allow them to benefit from this growing technology and, by doing so, we have established a strong market position and are currently the only supplier delivering a fully managed LPWAN service. The Enterprise M3 loan will help us to take advantage of the opportunities we now face and expedite the growth of the business.”

James Edwards, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the EM3 II Funding Escalator on behalf of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “Barter for Things has made great progress across the Solent since its launch two and a half years ago and the management team are now looking to expand into a wider geographical area, becoming the market leader for LPWAN systems integration across the South and into the heart of the UK. We are delighted to be helping to fund the opening of a new office in Basingstoke and the recruitment of staff in this area, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as they grow.”

Kathy Slack, Director, Enterprise M3 LEP, comments: “Barter for Things is an exciting business on the cusp of even greater innovation. With its unique use of LPWAN, an energy and cost-efficient communications network, the company is a perfect candidate for expansion funding to enhance the Enterprise M3’s ambition of digital growth in a low carbon economy. As well as being the only supplier of a fully managed LPWAN service, the unique data collection service will reduce carbon emissions because the need for vehicle journeys will lessen.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator II is £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which includes an expansion loan scheme, a trade finance loan scheme and an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-expansion-loan-scheme or contact James Edwards at james.edwards@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608531.

 

 

 

How to Have Your Cake and Eat it? Build a Thriving Baking Business

Bakedin is one of the first companies to receive funding from the new Enterprise M3 (EM3) II Funding Escalator, financed by EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and managed by The FSE Group. The Basingstoke manufacturer of home baking kits has experienced significant growth over the past three years and has now secured a £150,000 Expansion Loan to grow the business further.

Founded five years ago by three friends with a passion for baking, Bakedin offers a home baking experience made a little easier by providing conveniently packaged, pre-weighed and measured dry ingredients for a variety of recipes. Their range features well-known favourites such as chocolate brownies and iced buns as well as some more unusual culinary delights including gin & tonic cupcakes and whoopie pies.

Since securing a farm shop outside Newbury as its first stockist in 2014, the business has gone from strength to strength and is now available in over 1,000 outlets. In addition to its retail store offering, Bakedin offers a subscription service, taking advantage of the boom in this niche sector led by companies such as Hello Fresh and Graze. It has also gained the endorsement of one of the world’s most renowned pastry chefs, Michel Roux, who helps to develop recipes for the company. The result of this activity has been a rapid climb in sales to almost £1million last year.

In order to meet growing demand and ensure the manufacturing operation is fit for continued growth, Bakedin moved into larger premises in September, part-funded by the EM3 loan. Remaining funds will be used to further product development, develop new sales channels and take on additional staff. The company anticipates increasing its number of employees from 13 to 25 over the next two years.

Joseph Munns, Bakedin co-founder and managing director, says: “This is a really exciting time for us – the internet is awash with baking blogs and vlogs and the success of shows such as The Great British Bake Off is testament to people’s interest. Finding a funder that recognises the potential of our business and of the wider market is invaluable; FSE is supportive of both our business model and our plans for growth. The recent move into our new premises means that we can now fully embrace the opportunities that are open to us we look forward to continuing to work with FSE as we pursue our goals.”

James Edwards, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, comments: “Bakedin has done a fantastic job in establishing itself at the forefront of a niche and growing market in a short space of time. The team has successfully crafted partnerships and endorsements to support this, placing the business in an ideal position to fully exploit every opportunity. We have been providing funding to high growth businesses on behalf of Enterprise M3 LEP for the past four years and we are delighted to be able to continue to support innovative, ambitious businesses like Bakedin with this new and enlarged Funding Escalator.”

Kathy Slack, Director, Enterprise M3 LEP, comments: “Enterprise M3 is an entrepreneurial and innovative area, with a higher than average number of businesses, compared to the rest of the country. We are proud to support our outstanding SMEs, like Bakedin and help them grow. Greatly innovative and creative, Bakedin embraces new technologies, ideas trends and ingenuity as it goes from strength to strength, creating opportunities for the local economy and job market.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator II is £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which includes an expansion loan scheme, a trade finance loan scheme and an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-expansion-loan-scheme or contact James Edwards at james.edwards@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608531.

For more information about Bakedin, visit www.bakedin.co.uk.

 

 

Meet the team who will deliver The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund

Following the recent launch of the £40million Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Investment Fund by the British Business Bank, the appointed fund manager, The FSE Group, is now delighted to introduce the full team that will be managing the fund

The new Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) will provide loan and equity funding between £25,000 and £2million to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate growth. The FSE Group was appointed to manage the fund following an open tender process and will be working with local partners, SWIG Finance, to deliver the investments.

The FSE Group’s CIOSIF team will be led by Stuart Nicol. Stuart has more than 20 years investment experience which includes key investment roles at Crowdcube, Octopus Investments and YFM.  At Octopus Stuart oversaw £110m of funds, with over 1,600 potential investments reviewed under his management. At Crowdcube he supported the company’s rapid growth from 12 to 80 staff with over £100 million raised for more than 100 businesses. Stuart brings an established network of relationships with venture investors and a reach that extends across sectors including creative, health tech, aerospace and renewables.

Ralph Singleton joins Stuart as senior fund manager for equity investment. Ralph has been working for FSE since 2015 and will be relocating to join the Cornwall team. He has over 30 years investment experience and is skilled in finding NEDs and advisors to help investee companies maximise their potential as well as helping them attract co-investment.  Ralph has closed six equity transactions within the last 18 months, leveraging sizable co-investment from FSE’s own business angel network, which he will look to replicate with CIOSIF.

The senior fund manager for loans is Tim Williams. Tim has over 16 years banking experience across the South West – nine of them based in Truro serving the Cornish SME community.  Most recently Tim has been a relationship manager for Lloyds, responsible for the management of SME clients in the £1-10million turnover range. During his career to date, Tim has supported over 120 SMEs across the Cornwall and Isle of Scilly region and gained an expansive network of introducer contacts.

Completing the FSE team will be Meg Salt in fund management and Brent Treloar in business development. Meg comes with over 10 years banking experience within Clydesdale Bank, most recently as a director in corporate and structured finance and previously within large corporate and acquisition finance roles. Brent has been involved in advisory, innovation and programme management services in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly for more than 25 years and has extensive SME, funder & advisor contacts across the region. He joins the team from University of Plymouth where he has been helping to identify businesses with innovation potential.

The FSE team brings its experience and expertise in SME lending and equity investing, which will be complemented by the addition of SWIG Finance as a delivery partner. Active in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly SME lending market for almost 30 years, SWIG Finance is the leading provider of alternative business loans across the area. The SWIG Finance team has an extensive network of local introducer and partner relationships and will work on the delivery of CIOSIF loans between £25,000 and £250,000, whilst the FSE team will focus on lending above £250,000 along with all equity investing.

SWIG Finance has recruited business manager Mike Wall to help deliver the CIOSIF fund. Mike has 40 years’ experience in personal and commercial lending, including 28 years at Barclays in Cornwall. John Peters, MD at SWIG Finance, says: “I am very excited that SWIG is working with The FSE Group, the appointed CIOSIF Fund Manager, in delivering smaller business loans as part of the £20m allocation for debt finance. Mike will, I’m sure prove to be a valuable addition to our team.”

Stuart Nicol, Head of Funds, Cornwall at The FSE Group, says: “CIOSIF is providing local businesses with a fantastic opportunity to be ambitious in their plans for growth.  With this high calibre team we are ready to make a real difference to the SME funding landscape across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and are looking forward to completing our first deal.”

Ken Cooper, MD, British Business Bank, welcomed the team saying: “It’s great to see The FSE Group appointing a dedicated and experienced team to manage the CIOSIF fund.  Local SMEs will now be able to benefit from the skills and experience of this team when seeking the investment and advice that will help them meet their growth ambitions.”

CIOSIF is a £40million initiative to support economic prosperity across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  Aimed at both early stage and more established businesses, the fund provides loans and equity investment between £25,000 and £2million to eligible companies that demonstrate the potential for high growth.  CIOSIF is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, CIOS Local Enterprise Partnership and HM Government and is delivered by the British Business Bank through appointed fund manager The FSE Group.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  

Editor’s Notes

About the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF)

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will invest in Debt Finance and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity,

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the CIOS Local Enterprise Partnership and HMG grant funding.

The project is receiving up to £32m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The MHCLG is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

The funds in which Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only.

The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which  impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank is currently supporting almost £4.6bn of finance to more than 70,000 smaller businesses and participating in a further £7bn of finance to mid-cap businesses (as at March 2018).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. It has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). This guide impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Take the interactive journey at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb or download/print a copy.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.

Maidenhead Based Online Performance Management Tool Secures Expansion Loan

Open Blend, the creators of a pioneering solution to the work life balance dilemma have secured £100,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire Expansion Loan Scheme, which is managed by The FSE Group.

The Maidenhead based company has developed an online coaching tool that enables staff and managers to focus on key drivers, wellbeing and performance. Open Blend CEO & Co-Founder Anna Rasmussen explains, “By including wellbeing in every one-to-one meeting people are encouraged to improve their work life balance, known internally as their blend. In fact, the platform turns traditional one-to-ones into coaching sessions, meaning that staff are regularly looked after by their employers rather than merely expected to work their way through tasks and activities.”

The tool enables individuals to select 8 key drivers that are important both at work and at home. These then become the focus of conversations to motivate and encourage engagement and productivity. The platform technology is intuitive and easy to use, enabling managers to understand an individual’s key drivers in both a work and home context, and providing an accurate picture of their happiness, confidence and ability to manage stress. Robust coaching frameworks within the platform then support managers to have coaching led-conversations with their team members, creating actions and objectives to help them move from where they are now, to where they want to be.

Ian Baker, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group which manages the TVB Expansion Loan Scheme on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments, “The platform that Anna and her team have created is incredibly beneficial to not just the businesses using it, but also for the wellbeing and career development of the employees. Open Blend have already built a strong portfolio of clients from a wide variety of sectors including financial services, insurance, media, travel, broadcasting, FMCG and recruitment, which indicates the strong versatility of their product. We are looking forward to working with the team at Open Blend and wish them all the success for the future.”

TVB Expansion Loan Scheme is part of TVB Funding Escalator, an £11.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The escalator, which also includes a Trade Finance Loan Scheme and a Growth Equity Fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £25,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, please visit www.thefsegroup.com/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator or contact Ian Baker ian.baker@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608517.

Further Finance East Funding for Sports Data Provider

Following a period of growth and product integration, TurfTrax has secured £50,000 from The East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS), managed by Finance East. TurfTrax products, headed by the GoingStick, continue to support the UK sports and leisure industry through the development and operation of weather systems, pioneering ground management technology and a data analysis platform.

TurfTrax’s suite of products combine to help customers to create and implement effective turf management and maintenance programmes and to monitor in real time the key environmental factors affecting the success of an event.

The GoingStick, which delivers an objective scientific measurement of ground conditions, was developed for the UK horseracing industry where it is a requirement at all turf courses and has since been adopted by customers around the world for thoroughbred horseracing and other equestrian applications.

The funding will be used to further develop TurfTrax technologies and to support the launch of MezureIT, a new data platform for leisure services providers and venues where accurate and imminent weather data can be used to drive sales and dictate customer movement and flow. The expansion will generate two new positions.

TurfTrax Managing Director Mike Maher said: “International interest in our products continues to increase with Australia being a particular area of growth for us. This funding will ensure we remain state-of-the-art and that the operational side of our business is able to satisfy demand.”

Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East comments: “TurfTrax first approached us for funding in 2013 and we are delighted to continue our working relationship with them.  The success of the company and uptake from the horse racing sector is extremely encouraging. We look forward to helping the company realise its growth ambitions and wish them all the success for the future.”

The 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

Award Winning TVB Funding Escalator Increases Capacity to £11.3million

In 2013, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP invested nearly half its Growing Places Fund to create the TVB Funding Escalator to help local high-growth businesses. Managed by The FSE Group, the Funding Escalator has so far supported 51 companies and invested £8.3million of loans and equity, creating or safeguarding 594 jobs in the LEP area. In addition, £21million of private finance has been leveraged to help companies grow. The funding escalator has supported businesses from a wide range of different sectors, including Tech & Digital, Life Sciences, MedTech, Cultural & Creative and Food & Beverages.

To build on this success, the LEP has committed a further £3million to make the £11.3million an ‘evergreen fund’; and increased both the size of loans available up to £300,000 and the period up to 5 years. The increased scale of the fund will mean that it is self-sustaining so that it can continue to support SMEs in Berkshire in perpetuity. This represents a significant investment for the LEP and reinforces its determination to support SMEs in the area, from any sector, that want to grow and create wealth locally.

Robin Barnes, Programme Lead for Enterprise, Innovation & Business Growth at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP says: “We created the first funding escalator in the UK with the aim to transform the way businesses can grow by creating an enduring legacy of business investment, innovation and growth in our sub region. This increased capacity and evergreen status is a real game changer and I would encourage ambitious businesses to get in touch with The FSE Group.”

Chief Executive of The FSE Group, Dean Mayer, adds: “We are delighted to continue our close working relationship with Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The Funding Escalator is here to help support businesses looking to grow substantially in Berkshire, and we are extremely proud of our achievements over the last 5 years. This new injection of £3million allows us to press ahead in reaching even more innovative and high-quality businesses in the area.”

About The FSE Group:

The FSE Group provides tailored funding solutions and support for ambitious and innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to help them achieve their maximum potential. This includes the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, which is one of a number of Local Enterprise Partnership backed funds that The FSE Group manage. For further information about the range of products and services offered by FSE, visit www.thefsegroup.com

About Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership:

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is a company limited by guarantee; one of 38 LEPs in England competing for public funds to invest in initiatives that address barriers to economic growth. It is a strategic, business-led partnership between the private sector, local government, the community and education sectors, as well as the main business organisations. Its aim is to bring about the sustainable economic growth of Thames Valley Berkshire through the implementation of a Strategic Economic Plan and to sustain the area’s status as the most productive sub region in the UK. For more information visit www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk