Cornish digital community engagement platform, GoCollaborate, has secured £120,000 equity investment from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF), as part of a larger £240,000 funding round.
The round was led by the FSE Group, the appointed fund manager for CIOSIF, and includes a number of private angel investors, Falmouth University and Coastline Housing. The funding will be used to develop additional features to the application, obtain national presence and a growing market share and recruit an in-house team. It is expected that all new hires will be Cornwall-based.
GoCollaborate is an easy-to-use online platform which enables communities to directly impact the planning and development of their local area. The platform builds on traditional consultation methods by making the engagement process more effective, while saving time and resources.
It can be used for multiple different stages of a consultation process, from initial data-gathering to generating reports, and provides an easy overview of data so that findings and decisions to be fed back to communities.
GoCollaborate was piloted with a range of Cornwall based Parish Councils including Portreath, Carn Brea, St Keverne and Redruth. These initial engagements resulted in the councils receiving a high level of in-depth qualitative data and being in a better position to act on their communities’ wishes.
Neil Kirkland, Chief Executive Officer and Finance Director at GoCollaborate, commented: “Engaging with local communities can be extremely challenging for councils or property developers who are tight on time and low on resources. GoCollaborate was created to solve the problem of conversing with groups of people during the pandemic, but it has become much more than that. We originally designed the platform to consult on Neighbourhood Development Plans, but we now offer a variety of services which help locals have an impact on sustainable planning, improving community facilities, protecting the environment, enabling affordable housing and revitalising high streets, towns and villages. This funding will give us the ability to grow and develop at a great pace so that we can help even more people have a say in their community.”
Anna Staevska, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “GoCollaborate is tackling a clear need which to date has not been addressed. The company has strong relationships with others in the housing and planning sectors which, combined with the excellent business model, makes it an impressive business. Listening to and acting on the views of local communities is key to sustainable development. We look forward to seeing more councils take advantage of this modern platform, leading to further contracts being established beyond the South West.”
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 from the British Business Bank, said: “CIOSIF is helping to grow a portfolio of businesses in Cornwall that are applying technology to tackle everyday issues. The fund’s equity stake has leveraged significant match funding from other investors and we look forward to seeing the company embark on its next phase of growth.”
John Acornley, LEP non-executive director and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “GoCollaborate has created an online platform that really empowers local communities by helping them engage in the planning process. And it’s great to see another spin-out business from Falmouth University’s Launchpad business incubation and accelerator programme securing the investment it needs to grow.”
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.
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