Cornish high-speed broadband provider, Wildanet, has secured further equity investment from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). The additional £400,000 will help the company to continue its roll-out of internet services to the thousands of homes and businesses across the county, that currently lack adequate broadband provision.
This latest funding follows an initial £750,000 CIOSIF investment last year. Since then, Wildanet has extended its infrastructure, which uses state of the art wireless radio technology, so that it is ready to connect over 100,000 properties. That’s over one third of Cornish homes, many in hard to reach areas, that could be accessing a guaranteed a minimum internet speed of 30Mb/s, going up to a lightning-fast 1Gb/s.
Wildanet is affected like most other businesses by the Covid-19 crisis, but they also appreciate that now, more than ever, high-quality internet is critical to keep Cornish businesses and residents connected. With the new funding, the company will take on new staff and increase its capacity to deliver its services more widely and quickly.
Wildanet’s CEO and Founder, Ian Calvert, said: “The coming months are going to be difficult for all businesses and we are no exception, but with Cornwall still lagging behind much of the UK when it comes to reliable internet, we feel strongly that we must push forward with a ‘business as usual’ approach as far as possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the CIOSIF team at The FSE Group, who have supported us over the last year.”
Ralph Singleton, The FSE Group’s Head of Funds in Cornwall, added: “Wildanet has made steady progress, building a customer base of more than 500 households and businesses. Their offering has impressed us from the start and this is now endorsed by the company’s exceptional customer retention rates. We hope this investment will be the stepping-stone to a major future funding round, which would allow the business to reach its full potential across its current WiFi technology, as well as further develop the progress they are making with fibre technology.”
Lloyd Brina, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “Wildanet has grown from being a young start-up to an established provider in Cornwall in a very short time and their minimum speed guarantee, especially in hard to reach areas, has helped set them apart in a competitive market. We’re delighted that the fund is supporting their continued growth with further equity investment.”
LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Wildanet have evolved their offer to become a hybrid supplier combining wireless, satellite, 4G and fibre technology, and hope to employ 50 staff by the end of 2021. It’s that technical innovation and growth which is so exciting to see, and why the investment fund was created in the first place to support growing businesses in Cornwall and Scilly.”
The £40m CIOSIF 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 manager, The 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.