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Sustainable Packaging Business Receives £500k CIOSIF Equity Investment

A company designing and manufacturing sustainable packaging is the latest business to benefit from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF).

Flexi-Hex, based in Porthleven, has secured a £500,000 CIOSIF equity investment as part of a £1.25million funding round which includes multiple angel investors. The deal was handled by The FSE Group, the appointed CIOSIF Fund Manager.

The funding will be used to support the growth of the business, with a focus on international expansion and continuing to develop its pioneering product range, while creating a number of new jobs.

Co-founded by twin brothers Will and Sam Boex, Flexi-Hex produces sustainable packaging solutions originally developed for the shipping of surfboards. The patented honeycomb sleeves are made of 100% recycled paper, are curbside recyclable, and biodegrade within eight weeks.

Renowned for its strength, the innovative hexagonal cell structure provides improved protection for fragile products and offers a superior alternative to plastic and polystyrene products, such as bubble wrap and air pillows, while delivering an attractive product that is appealing to high-end brands.

Creative Director Sam said: “As surfers ourselves, we knew how important protecting the marine environment is to the surfing community and so in 2018 we launched our first Flexi-Hex surfboard sleeve. Since then we have gone on to develop eco-friendly packaging, that is also aesthetically appealing, for use across a range of sectors including drinks, cosmetics and electronics.”

Operations Director Will added: “This investment comes at a critical point in our development, supporting our launch in the US and other international territories as well as helping us to create additional innovative products and pursue our ambitious growth strategy.”

The global packaging market is currently worth almost $1trillion and e-commerce continues to grow following its pandemic boom. Consumer demand is leading the growing move towards sustainable packaging with legislative changes also becoming a key driver. The UK is set to introduce a tax on plastic packaging from April 2022, while some other countries – including Canada and Western Australia – are planning to ban single-use plastic packaging altogether.

Ralph Singleton, Head of Funds, Cornwall at The FSE Group, commented: “Flexi-Hex has a great track record, having achieved 260% organic sales growth year-on-year since launch. The team has established a strong customer base and has credible co-investors already in place. The investment secures 11 high-quality, professional jobs in Cornwall with many more expected to be created post-investment and we are delighted to be working with this vibrant team to help them take advantage of the opportunities available.”

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).

Sarah Newbould, Senior Investment Manager from the British Business Bank, said: “The British Business Bank is actively supporting sustainable businesses around the UK through our regional funds. Flexi-Hex have created an innovative product that will help stem the tide of plastics entering our oceans, while creating jobs in Cornwall. We are delighted to support their further growth.”

LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Flexi-Hex’s mission to tackle plastics in packaging with a sustainably-sourced, biodegradable alternative is an excellent example of a Cornish business that has innovation and sustainability at its heart. Their patented system has applications in a range of sectors and is poised to break into new markets.”

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

For more information about Flexi-Hex visit www.flexi-hex.com

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Birmingham Graphics and Print Manufacturer Secures £250,000 Investment

Birmingham-based Hollywood Monster has secured a £250,000 loan enabling it to safeguard 40 employees whilst creating seven new positions over a three year period.

The business received the funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by The FSE Group, Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

With the continued growth of the company and securing new clients, Hollywood Monster will be expanding its workforce to strengthen the current team ensuring both existing and new contracts are delivered.

Hollywood Monster specialises in producing digital wide-format print and signage solutions for companies across multiple UK industries, including fast food, entertainment and retail. The business offers a full end-to-end service from design through to installation.

Tim Andrews MBE, Founder and Chairman of Hollywood Monster, said: “Covid-19 has definitely had an impact on many businesses across the globe during the last year and a half. This funding will enable us to maintain our current workforce, putting the company in a strong position to fulfil its growth plans. We have successfully replaced 90% of our products with sustainable alternatives and this will help us fulfil our target of being 100% sustainable by 2022. Our thanks to Kerry, The FSE Group’s Investment Manager, who guided us through the funding process to secure the loan, assisting the business to achieve its aims.”

In 2019 across Europe, 340 million square metres of printed graphics ended up in landfill.  Hollywood Monster took this opportunity to work with the UK reseller of a new PVC free range of materials and were the first business to successfully trial and implement these products into their range.

Kerry Haughton, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, adds: “Hollywood Monster is a well-established business with over 30 years’ experience in the industry and they have a strong, forward thinking leadership team. It is proud to be seen as an eco-responsible business which has a loyal customer base. It was encouraging to see Tim and his team be able to operate during the challenging lockdown period. The business has welcomed more new contracts and is well positioned to win even more as the UK fully opens-up. We look forward to working with the business as its team grows.”

Ryan Cartwright, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “This latest investment from MEIF, will be key in enabling Hollywood Monster to both maintain and grow its workforce. By increasing its capacity, the business can take on more contracts and continue on its growth journey. This shows the versatility of MEIF finance and its role in ensuring Midlands’ businesses have access to the funding they need to succeed.”

Tim Pile, Chair at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership said: “In response to the pandemic and climate change emergency, many businesses have pivoted their operations. Using this MEIF funding, Hollywood Monster has adapted its products whilst securing and creating new jobs. This support will also help the team fulfil its growth ambitions, ensuring Hollywood Monster contributes to the wider economic recovery of our local economy. Along with businesses, GBSLEP is working with local authorities and colleges and universities to ensure that the recovery delivers inclusive, sustainable economic growth that benefits all our communities.”

The Midlands Engine 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 and the European Investment Bank.

The FSE Group, MEIF Debt Finance Fund provides loans between £100,000 and £1.5million to help growing SMEs across the region.

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Leicestershire Sustainable Cycling Apparel Business Secures £500,000 funding package to create 7 jobs

A Hinckley headquartered cycling apparel manufacturer has secured a £500,000 investment to fuel expansion and strengthen its position in global markets.

Velobici Ltd secured the funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) – managed by The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The company will use the funds to bolster its workforce over the next three years, creating seven full time jobs, six dedicated to the manufacturing side of the business and a new finance employee.

Velobici manufactures and distributes high-end cycling apparel and accessories. It uses sustainably sourced fabrics and has an adaptable manufacturing strategy that helps limit excess production. The funding will also enable the company to increase stock levels to help meet demand from both UK and export markets.

The company is also planning to move to larger premises, which will increase production capacity and allow the company to grow its distribution channels overseas. Alongside the larger premises, a new range of cycling apparel is being developed for Spring 2022.

Chris Puttnam, Founder and Director of Velobici, said: “Being a keen amateur cyclist myself, I understand the importance of having the correct, high-performance cycling apparel. COVID-19 affected supply chains across the manufacturing sector, but with lockdown restrictions easing, the situation is greatly improving, enabling us to get back to ‘business as usual’, albeit with the correct safety measures in place.

“This funding has not only enabled us to maintain our workforce, but we are now back to full manufacturing strength, fulfilling current orders and scheduling new ones. We take great pride in attention to detail and all our roadwear garments are manufactured by our own master craftspeople from start to finish. The imminent move to our new premises will see capacity increased to deliver a growth in sales.”

Ann Marie McFadyen, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, added: “Velobici has a highly experienced leadership team, all committed to ensuring the business becomes carbon-neutral by 2025. Its respected high-quality ‘Made In England’ brand, being 100 per cent UK manufactured, is well respected and sought after, both overseas and in the UK by both current and new customers.

“The sector is set to continue to expand, and it is great to see the business getting ready to move to a larger production site to fulfil the increase in orders. We look forward to joining Chris and his team at Velobici on the next stage of their journey.”

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “MEIF funding can be used for a whole range of purposes, from building teams to expanding premises and purchasing equipment. It’s great to see another Midlands’ manufacturing business securing finance from the fund and growing globally.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, said:  “Velobici is an innovative textile manufacturer whose products and designs are made right here in Leicestershire, keeping our historic heart of the UK textile industry very much alive.

“I’m very pleased that they have secured this funding to enable them to expand their team and invest in the future of their business. It is essential that our local innovative and sustainable manufacturers get the support and funding they need to expand, so they can offer future jobs and opportunities for local people. This is exactly what the Midlands Engine Investment Fund was set up to do.”

The Midlands Engine 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 and the European Investment Bank.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) was managed by the British Business Band on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The scheme ended on 31 March and has been replaced by the Recovery Loan Scheme.

The FSE Group, MEIF Debt Finance Fund provides loans between £100,000 and £1.5million to help growing SMEs across the region.

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Berkshire Business Mass Media Outdoor Secures £300,000 Expansion Loan

A Reading-based outdoor media advertising company has secured £300,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Expansion Loan Scheme.

The funding will allow the company to acquire two more outdoor advertising sites and complete work on its four existing locations. To facilitate this growth the company will be increasing their employee numbers with key hires being made across marketing and operations departments.

Formed in 2017, Mass Media Outdoor is a leading provider of Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising in the M4 corridor and Greater London Area, but has plans to grow nationally. The business currently has 14 live sites comprising of 48 digital advertising screens. Primarily situated in locations with high traffic and footfall, such as arterial roots into towns and shopping centres, the adverts displayed on the screens are targeted to the location and set to run at specific times during the day. This ensures captive audiences see relevant adverts and advertisers get maximum brand exposure. This form of interactive digital advertising has replaced the traditional static billboards only capable of displaying one paper advert.

Mass Lambresa, Co-Founder and CEO of Mass Media explains: “Digital advertising is a fast-paced environment, continually growing and expanding. The finance will be used to acquire new sites allowing us to offer our service to more businesses wishing to target key audiences by streamlining their brand advertising. We are grateful for The FSE Group’s support in taking us through the funding process, helping us to secure the loan which will help us reach our next stage of growth.”

DOOH media is considered to be one of the best mediums when it comes to advertising and reaching a set target market. DOOH holds 50% of the UK market by revenue, with 80% of advertisers citing a significant increase in their sales compared with billboards and static signage. As this is a high-growth market sector, it will present increased opportunities for Mass Media to source more sites for their digital advertising screens, reaching even more target markets.

Rob Hillary, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Expansion Loan Scheme, on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) commented: “We were impressed by the management team sector experience, alongside its excellent brand and reputation they command in the market. An increasing number of outdoor static sites are being re-developed to DOOH and Mass Media is well placed to capitalise on this. We are delighted to be able to have secured this funding for the business and look forward to working with the team.”

Jacinta George, Business Environment Lead and Board Director at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP added, “To support the local and national recovery from Covid-19, it’s vital that businesses like Mass Media receive funding to create jobs and expand its business offering. Taking into consideration the impact of Covid-19 on SMEs, it’s encouraging to see this business want to grow and strengthen the creative sector in Berkshire.”

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 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 TVB area.

For more information about the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, please visit https://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator/ or contact Rob Hillary at rob.hillary@thefsegroup.com tel: 07436 144531

For more information about Mass Media, please visit https://mass-media.co.uk/

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London Technology Business Secures GLIF Funding to Support Growth

A London based technology business has secured a £500,000 loan from the Greater London Investment Fund to support its ambitious growth plans.

The funding will enable talent technology company Distributed to continue on its already established high-growth trajectory, despite the extensive impact of Covid-19 on the wider business community. The funding is being used to finance additional jobs, with the business rolling out a plan to recruit 20 new staff at its London base.

Distributed has built a process and platform which allows a business to work with the world’s best IT workforce as easily as it could with a local contractor. Its Elastic Teams model provides a solution that delivers fast, consistent, high-quality project delivery whilst giving developers democratic access to work, wherever they are based. 

Callum Adamson, Distributed’s CEO and Co-founder, said: “The pandemic has brought a recognition that geographical boundaries are increasingly irrelevant when recruiting the best talent. With a product already built on this premise, we were confident that we could not only survive, but thrive at a time when Covid-19 was having widespread consequences across the business landscape. With access to finance remaining challenging in the current climate, we are grateful to FSE for seeing the bigger picture and providing funding, which has enabled us to continue our growth uninterrupted.”

Marco Cerrone, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, added: “Distributed is already a strong early-stage business with significant potential, as demonstrated by a series of successful equity raises and established partnerships with private and institutional investors. The impact of Covid-19 demanded a combination of debt and equity finance to provide the flexibility needed for the business to stay on track. We are delighted to be supporting this sector-disrupting business that is leading the way in talent management.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, commented: “Despite unfavourable circumstance caused by the global pandemic, Distributed grew an impressive fivefold in 2020. We are excited to support their team expansion as they continue to provide the process and platform which enables companies to work with world’s best IT talent.”

GLIF is a £100m initiative to help address the SME finance gap in Greater London, promoting economic growth through enterprise and an inclusive and sustainable economy. £55m of debt funding is available, via loans between £100,000 and £1m, to early-stage and established SMEs looking to scale-up and realise their growth ambitions. GLIF is financed through the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), London Waste & recycling Board (LWARB) and Funding London’s Legacies.

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Online Alcoholic Drinks Company Secures £250,000 to Scaleup Its Operations

Bermondsey based online drinks distributor EeBria has received £250,000 from the Greater London Investment Fund to support its ambitious growth plan.

The finance, alongside an investor injection from earlier in the year, will enable the company to deliver its expansion, recruiting key London based staff across all of the sales and marketing and IT departments and taking on a new larger office space to accommodate its much larger team.

EeBria was established in 2013 by David and Rachael Jackson as a market disrupter in the UK alcoholic drinks distribution sector and is now on the verge of entry into several new European markets over the coming year. EeBria’s online platform connects trade buyers across the UK with both specialist craft brewers, cider makers and distillers as well as recognisable household names. EeBriaTrade.com is an integrated marketplace, providing 700 small and large drinks makers a national sales presence and a logistics system which can deliver kegs, cans bottles and casks to customers that would be otherwise unreachable using other methods. Their 35,000 registered buying accounts, made up of pubs, bars, shops, restaurants and also private buyers, value the huge range of products and brands at flexible order sizes as well as the competitive pricing. 

David Jackson, Co-Founder and CEO of EeBria commented: “We’re proud to partner with the largest number of drinks makers in the country and that we offer a range of thousands of products for sale every day, ranging from brand new specialist craft releases to mainstream brands. This list continues to grow, with new sellers joining our platform every week and the craft drinks sector is undergoing exciting growth. The funding will allow us to execute our growth plans, not only creating exciting opportunities in the UK but introducing the EeBria brand to Europe and taking our UK sellers products into new markets for the first time. Thanks to The FSE Group for taking us through the requirements and helping us to secure the finance to realise these plans.”

David Booth, Investment Manager for The FSE Group, which manages the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, commented: “EeBria is representative of the innovative high-growth businesses that we seek to back with debt finance. We were impressed by the founding management team and the commercial traction they have been able to deliver to date. We look forward to working with the business as it grows in London.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds: “Identifying a gap in the alcoholic drinks distribution market, Rachel and David have built a successful national business over the course of eight years. We look forward to what the future holds as they take the big step of expanding internationally and growing their team to support this ambition. We are delighted to support them in their growth journey.”

GLIF is a £100m initiative to help address the SME finance gap in Greater London, promoting economic growth through enterprise and an inclusive and sustainable economy. £55m of debt funding is available, via loans between £100,000 and £1m, to early-stage and established SMEs looking to scale-up and realise their growth ambitions. GLIF is financed through the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), London Waste & recycling Board (LWARB) and Funding London’s Legacies.

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Premium Bar Snacks Business Secures £300k to Expand its Product Range

Maidenhead based company, Made for Drink, has secured a £300k loan from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Funding Escalator to develop its product range and enable the creation of 13 new jobs.

Established in 2016, Made For Drink offers premium snacks specifically created to pair with alcoholic drinks. Made by hand in Berkshire, the high-end snacks are a welcome alternative to the standard nuts and crisps that often accompany a drink. Their Chorizo Thins, Chicken Salt Fries and Salami Chips can be found in Harvey Nichols, Waitrose, Virgin Wines and Rick Stein establishments, as well as being available in over 2,000 independent outlets.

The funding will allow the business to deliver their expansion plan into 30 Booths stores across the North of England. To facilitate the growing demand for their products, the company is also set to recruit across their production and marketing teams.

Made for Drink: Chorizo Thins: More Info

Dan Featherstone, Founder of Ruscombe Artisan Food & Drink t/a Made for Drink explains: “Good food and drink bring people together, that’s our aim and it’s something we’re incredibly passionate about. Our snacks are made with the utmost care, from product design right the way through to packaging. We’re proud of the fact that we don’t use mega factories and that our products are sold in home compostable plastic free packaging which is environmentally friendly. We’re very grateful to have worked with Simon at The FSE Group who understood and encouraged our enthusiasm while helping us through the funding process.”

Simon Blackbourn, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, who manage the TVB Funding Escalator on behalf of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, commented, “Made for Drink has an incredibly experienced management team who understand not only the vibrant snacking sector, but the environmental factors associated with it. Both their knowledge and dedication shine through and are obvious in the quality of their unique and delicious products. We were impressed with Made For Drink’s ability to pivot the business towards an online focus during COVID-19 and their use of the many routes to market that the food and drink sector has access to. The FSE Group was delighted to help the team secure funding and we look forward to watching them grow and develop even more wonderful snacks.”

Jacinta George, Business Environment and Board Director at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP added, “Dan has built a sound business focussed on quality. I’m delighted that the fund has been able to help the business move to the next level, including the creation of jobs. The LEP’s priority is to support businesses at a time they need it. Despite the pandemic, through the Funding Escalator and Berkshire Business Growth Hub we have continued to offer local businesses free guidance and financial support where the traditional routes may not have been as easily available or accessible.”

The TVB Funding Escalator, an £11.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. 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 Berkshire area.

For more information about the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, please visit https://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator/ or contact Simon Blackbourn simon.blackbourn@thefsegroup.com tel: 07436 189762

For more information about Ruscombe Artisan Food & Drink please visit www.madefordrink.com

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Sustainable Textile Manufacturer Secures Growth Funding

A London-based, textile brand which promotes, social, ecological, and cultural development has secured £250,000 to further develop its products and recruit additional senior staff.

London-based B-corp™ Ananas Anam UK Limited secured the finance from the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF), provided by The FSE Group and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS). The company is the creator of PIÑATEX®, an innovative material made from pineapple leaves, a by-product of the pineapple harvest.

This vegan, natural and sustainable alternative to leather is set to disrupt the fashion industry. PIÑATEX® from Ananas Anam has already been used by world renowned brands such as Nike, H&M, Paul Smith, Hilton Hotels and Hugo Boss. With a wide range of uses in fashion, accessories, homewares, and upholstery the material is set to be picked up by more prestige names which will be added to the company’s existing client list of leading brands.

The pineapple leaves used are a by-product of an existing harvest, meaning there is no additional environmental resource used in the production of the raw material. In fact, making PIÑATEX® is good for the environment as the manufacturing process releases far less CO2 into the atmosphere than burning the pineapple leaves or leaving them to rot.

Melanie Broyé-Engelkes, CEO at Ananas Anam, commented,We are grateful for the support from The FSE Group which will enable Ananas Anam to further expand our team and operations; continuing to build PIÑATEX® globally and make even greater progress in realising the company vision of a more sustainable future”.

David Booth, Investment Manager for The FSE Group, who manages the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, commented: “The Circular Economy is a key area of focus for the Fund, and we are delighted to be able to support Ananas Anam as they pursue their growth ambition. The commercial traction they have been able to demonstrate to date is impressive and we are confident that they have a bright future ahead. We look forward to working with the Founder and her Senior Management team on the next stage of their journey.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds:Ananas Anam is proof that much needed sustainable alternatives can be successfully developed to replace products with negative environmental impact. We are truly impressed by the versatility of this innovative product, its positive social and economic impact, and the calibre of brands the company already counts as clients. It is a pleasure to provide the financial support Melanie and the team need to take this business to the next level.”

GLIF is a £100m initiative to help address the SME finance gap in Greater London, promoting economic growth through enterprise and an inclusive and sustainable economy. £55m of debt funding is available, via loans between £100,000 and £1m, to early-stage and established SMEs looking to scale-up and realise their growth ambitions. GLIF is financed through the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), London Waste & recycling Board (LWARB) and Funding London’s Legacies. The Recovery Loan Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. It is not authorised or regulated by the PRA or the FCA. Visit http://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/recovery-loan-scheme

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CIOSIF Invest in Newquay Based Artificial Intelligence Company

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) has announced a £100,000 equity investment in Newquay-based artificial intelligence company SimSage as part of a £200,000 deal.

The investment round was led by the FSE Group as the appointed fund manager for CIOSIF and includes investment from a number of Angel investors working with corporate finance and venture capital company Mylor Ventures.

SimSage has developed an AI-powered search platform designed to dramatically reduce time spent searching for information, both for employees within organisations and on websites for customers. The system has been developed specifically to find relevant information within organisations, and where quite specific uses of English language is critically important.

It allows staff to quickly find documents, files and information from multiple systems using a single unifying search box, which improves productivity, removes the cost and complexity of document management systems and reduces business risk particularly around legislative compliance.

SimSage also allows customers to find exactly what they are looking for on a website, increasing website visitor engagement and sales, and reducing pressure on frontline staff having to deal with queries by telephone.

The business has an experienced management team led by Sean Wilson and Rock De Vocht who previously operated a similar business in New Zealand. SimSage is already working with four launch customers. Future customers are likely to include local government, where websites are key sources of information, and accountants, lawyers and utility companies.

Sean Wilson, Co-Founder and CEO of SimSage, commented: “The funding has come at an important time for the business as we look to accelerate our growth so we can reach more industries who will benefit from this product. Having supportive investors such as CIOSIF and Mylor Ventures will be key to underpinning our future aspirations.”

Ralph Singleton, Head of Funds at The FSE Group, added “We live in a very modern, fast paced world with information readily available at our fingertips but do not have time to waste trying to locate or extract the relevant data. We have all at some stage been frustrated by the mass of information on company websites when we can’t find what we are looking for. We look forward to working with SimSage to solve these new world problems.”

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).

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “Through the British Business Bank’s regional funds we are actively supporting businesses that improve the efficiency of the UK economy through the use of technology. Supporting early-stage businesses as they fulfil their growth is an important component of helping generate economic growth in Cornwall.”

John Acornley, LEP non-executive director and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “SimSage uses some very sophisticated IT that can make businesses more productive and build better relationships with customers by helping them find what they need. Cornwall is growing force in the tech sector, and we are very pleased to see the fund supporting the growth of another technology company in the county.”

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.

Advisers on the transaction were: Field Seymour Parkes (FSE legals), Ignition Law (SimSage legals), and Mylor Ventures (SimSage corporate finance).

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

Read more about SimSage at www.simsage.ai

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Online Education Platform Secures £600k Investment

London based business Up Learn, has secured £600,000 debt financing from the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) to grow its platform, which helps A Level students achieve A / A* grades through optimised learning.

The funding will enable the business to expand its product offering, initially allowing Up Learn to cover more A level subjects. The company plans to expand further after this into other qualifications and curricula.

Up Learn was established by Imperial College London alumnus Guy Riese in 2016.  The platform uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and complex cognitive science to help A-Level students achieve top results. It adapts to each student using algorithms which identify and focus on weak spots. Through the use of interactive videos and quizzes, the company creates a personalised learning experience for each user. This helps to build subject knowledge and enables students to learn more over a shorter than average time period.

Guy Riese, Founder and CEO of Up Learn, commented, “We work with many schools covering different exam boards and currently have over 8,000 users. Up Learn has helped 97% of students achieve top grades in the last two years of exams. The teachers we have at Up Learn are world class with decades of experience under their belt. Combined with this knowledge, they work with cognitive science researchers to produce effective study resources to best assist Up Learn students.”

For every fee-paying student, Up Learn provide a complimentary course to a student who can’t, through its free school meals scholarships programme and charity partners, such as The Sutton Trust.

David Booth, Investment Manager for The FSE Group, who manages the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, added:We were impressed by the commercial development which Guy has achieved to date and the opportunity for growth as Up Learn expands its curriculum coverage. We look forward to supporting Guy with his growth ambition as Up Learn continues to expand its service.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds: “Combining world-class teaching with the latest research and technology, Up Learn has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2016.  Guy and his team have definitely capitalised on the accelerated demand for EdTechs and are now poised for excellent growth. I admire Up Learn’s mission to make an impact by extending the benefits of their growth to those students who have been most affected by the pandemic via their provision of complimentary subscriptions to students who would otherwise have no access. We are excited to support the curriculum expansion plans leading to further growth for the company over the coming years.”

GLIF is a £100m initiative to help address the SME finance gap in Greater London, promoting economic growth through enterprise and an inclusive and sustainable economy. £55m of debt funding is available, via loans between £100,000 and £1m, to early-stage and established SMEs looking to scale-up and realise their growth ambitions. GLIF is financed through the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), London Waste & recycling Board (LWARB) and Funding London’s Legacies.