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

Finding the right Funding to fit your perfectly sized SME

In the SME market, the banks are focussed on secured lending. The deviation from this type of secured lending is usually applicable for larger SMEs when Bank’s may consider unsecured projection led lending for that SME undertaking a larger transaction, for example a £25m turnover business about to make an acquisition.

Many commercial equity funds are focussed on real high growth business, especially those which already have existing turnover.

The conclusion is that more funds which can combine both debt and equity funding and which focus on the “S” of SME are required.  

This will allow the right solution to be deployed:

  • Debt if the business can support debt after perhaps a capital repayment holiday to allow the new monies to be put to good use to ultimately generate the future on-going repayments (this naturally also reduces the need to dilute shareholding at that stage).
  • Equity if the business is looking to grow rapidly and is focussed on innovation & long-term shareholder value (or if it is too highly debt leveraged already, or the growth story cannot support debt at that stage).

These funding solutions are best delivered locally with Relationship Investment Managers.  Regional focus works to encourage general economic growth, but also allows additional focus on particular sectors, under-represented groups or those with a specific purpose, for example supply chains / productivity.

SMEs and market gap funding options available via The FSE Group

The FSE Group offers funding solutions and support for all sizes of eligible SMEs. Currently there are 8 regional Funds under management, which can act as a key building block to leverage additional finance, for local SMEs. We are dedicated to bridging the funding gap to serve innovative, ambitious and scalable SMEs who, for whatever reason, are unable to source funding from conventional or even alternative funding channels to support their growth ambitions.

By understanding the direction and business goals of the individual SME and its clear expansion and growth plans, the business loans or equity solutions available, could enable them to make that step change to achieve the next level of growth for their business.

The Funds are supported by the likes of the British Business Bank and the LEPs / Local Authorities who have played such an important role in supporting market gap impact funding, and it is evident that the continued support of more Regional Funds is crucial to the recovery and growth of the smaller SMEs.

The power of creating smaller funds to support the community

The FSE Group’s parent entity is a Community Interest Company and it is a purpose led organisation. As a fund management business, we have a real passion and successful history in deploying and managing economic impact market gap funds to support SME growth.

The funds managed always have an economic impact purpose to them rather than a pure commercial return.  The organisation has the capability and proven track record of managing both debt and equity funding and therefore can create the right solution / combination of those funding options.

The Group promotes sustainability and has a proven track record of successfully recycling smaller funds to generate continuous economic impact.  This is shown for example, with the East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme which is a £6.5m Fund, but over time that £6.5m has been recycled and has supported 225 businesses, agreeing more than £27.5m worth of loans and leveraging a further £75m of other finance into growth orientated SMEs. Supporting these businesses has created 1,100 new jobs with the East of England. The fund remains solid with the net assets still above £6.5m.

For more information of FSE’s funds under management visit: www.thefsegroup.com/overview-of-funds/

Words by Paul Marston, CEO at The FSE Group.

Berkshire Based “Cordell Health” deliver military precision, specialist occupational health services

Husband and wife team Drs Robin and Nikki Cordell, have secured £300,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator (TVB) to further grow, develop and expand their multi-disciplinary occupational health services business.

Robin and Nikki retired from their military careers in 2013, with over 30 years’ combined experience delivering occupational health services. Embarking on civilian life, they were both keen to investigate a way in which they could continue to pursue excellence in health and wellbeing in the workplace and positively impact on the workability of people with health issues.

They established “Cordell Health,” a new type of quality occupational health service. Their business strives to deliver excellence in health and wellbeing in the workplace and to provide a positive impact for employers and employees alike. Workplaces have changed beyond recognition in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic. Now more than ever it is important to ensure that relationships between the health of the employee, their working environment, and duties undertaken are safeguarded. Occupational health services are more than just an administrative task to manage sickness absence. It is ensuring employees with a health condition are fit to work after a period away from the working environment. It encompasses the physical and emotional wellbeing and mindfulness of employees undertaking their roles; be that in an office environment or remotely.

Cordell Health aims to provide a dynamic, sustainable and ethical manner when delivering their services which will in turn support organisations to provide a working environment which enables all employees to be engaged, productive and well. These key factors are provided by the exceptional, workplace health services which Cordell Health provide.

Cordell Health is SEQOHS (Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service) accredited, an award entrusted to an Occupational Health provider governed by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM), the professional and educational body for occupational medicine in UK.  

Dr Nikki Cordell, Co-Founder of Cordell Health, commented “In 2016, Cordell Health re-launched as a social enterprise. Our social mission is to remove, wherever possible, barriers to employment of individuals with a disability or long-term health condition. The funding from TVB will enable us to expand our own team of healthcare experts and further the development of our services, to the benefit of our current and future clients.”

Cheryl Weeks, Head of Funds, South East for The FSE Group, commented: “Being a social enterprise is very important to Drs Robin and Nikki Cordell, who strive to make a positive difference in the workplace coupled with their vision to shift the focus from disability to ability. Cordell Health specialises in providing early intervention and expert support to HR and managers in the field of workplace health and wellbeing. It was a pleasure to be able to secure funding for the dedicated team, enabling them to reach out to more businesses ensuring they benefit from the specialist occupational support and advice.”

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 £50,000 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 Cheryl Weeks cheryl.weeks@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 607303 / 07866 835143

How to Support the Beating Heart of the UK Economy: The SME

Lockdown Part II and adjusting to the “new normal”

Lockdown part II has seen our high streets and hospitality sector temporarily pause again. Restrictions have been reimposed on households meeting and the education system is staying open, but what about UK SMEs? As businesses had previously eased into the recovery period, this afforded them the time and opportunity to re-group and focus on how best to strengthen their proposition in the light of the global crisis. Here at The FSE Group, our Fund Managers have continued to provide support and advice for all of their SMEs and work with them during these unprecedented times.

SMEs remain open for business

It is true to say that the global crisis has had different impacts on UK SME’s. Whilst some have been hit very hard others have remained unaffected, and for them it really has been business as usual, some are even showing strong growth.  Having spoken with many different sized SMEs which make up the portfolio here at The FSE Group, many of them have pivoted their business model to adjust to new ways of operating, which has in turn accelerated some productivity activities and strong growth opportunities.

The months ahead will no doubt remain challenging as we continue to operate under strict conditions, but it is important to remember that UK SME businesses are both resilient and creative and will continue to find ways to alter their business model accordingly to facilitate recovery and growth.

What can SMEs do to further accelerate their recovery and growth opportunities?

What we can see is that a significant amount of debt has been taken on with the Government supported loan schemes.  However, we need SMEs to recover and then grow.  Some will have a new debt burden from just surviving, and some may have used up historically generated cash reserves (which may have been deployed for growth purposes) to just survive, and thus there is going to be an increasing funding gap.

The recent report from Sir Anthony Seldon & Stephen Welton (BGF) focussed on a cohort of businesses that have existing sales turnover of over £2.5m that are deemed to be high growth. It is correct that these larger SMEs should attract attention to accelerate their growth and commercially focussed pure equity funds should rightly be attracted to them.

However, there are many more SMEs with much lower existing sales that need to be encouraged to grow their business and to have access to support and help finding the right funding solutions. 

These smaller SMEs will typically be less attractive for traditional equity funds as their growth potential (and thus valuation and exit options) may not be as high as the larger SMEs. The growth potential is there but they could be a far more risky investment for those type of funds.

The above-mentioned report also stated that 67% of high growth businesses are based outside of London, and we agree with the importance of Regional Funds. 

In Summary

UK Plc needs SMEs to grow and prosper. The FSE Group’s regional Funds are open to support them by providing funding to eligible businesses to assist in their growth and recovery journey.  Many of the Funds have both Debt & Equity solutions and this allows the right combination of funding.  In addition, the Funds are there to support the forward looking story, ie genuine projection led funding.

The clear objective is to strengthen the potential to achieve economic growth through enterprise whilst transforming the funding landscape for the UK’s SMEs.

For more information of FSE’s funds under management visit: www.thefsegroup.com/overview-of-funds/

Words by Paul Marston, CEO at The FSE Group.

Greater London Investment Fund Supports Hinterview, a World-Leading Video Recruitment Platform, with £500,000 Growth Loan

Situated in Southwark, South London, Hinterview has secured a £500,000 growth loan from the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) which is managed by The FSE Group.

In the UK, the recruitment industry is currently bigger than ever, estimated to be worth over £35billion to the UK economy. Before the advancement of technology, recruitment followed a more traditional path; face to face interviews at the recruiters’ offices with paper CVs faxed off to hiring employers. The “time to hire” was a long process at circa 45 days. As technology came to the forefront and recruitment evolved, the industry modernised rapidly, however there were due to be even more advancements in the sector.

In 2013, experienced recruiters Andy Simpson and Rich McLaren set about to change the UK’s talent landscape even further. They did this by establishing Hinterview: A world leading video platform optimised for interviewing and recruitment. Built by recruiters for recruiters, Hinterview is both hyper secure and fully GDPR compliant, enabling the sharing of candidate videos. The innovative online recruitment platform enhances the recruitment process for candidates and clients, reducing time to hire and increasing placement rates. 

In light of current COVID-19 restrictions, recruitment agencies have come to rely on Hinterview as a way to continue “business as usual” which is particularly useful for reaching out to candidates without breaching social distancing measures. It has also enabled business owners to stand out from the crowd by offering a premium service at a time where competition is at its highest.

Andy Simpson, Co-Founder of Hinterview commented: “Video is the future of agency recruitment. Recruiters are able to engage with their audience in an effective and personal way that previously wasn’t possible. The support of the GLIF expansion loan will enable us to scale-up the team to service current demand and expand sales in the recruitment sector to enter the corporate and education sectors in the UK. Many thanks to Paul from The FSE Group who guided us through the process of securing this expansion loan, we couldn’t have done it without him.”

Paul Shadbolt, Senior Fund Manager for The FSE Group, who managed the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, commented: “It was a pleasure to work with Andy and Rich. It is rewarding to be able to support successful, innovative local businesses. GLIF helps to support London businesses and has the potential to impact on the economy. This will help SMEs accelerate the growth of their business, through job creation and product development. We look forward to the next stage of their journey.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds: “Hinterview, has been redefining recruitment for years and during the pandemic their product has been the ‘go to platform’ for the industry. Andy and Rich have continued to show big ambition to grow their business and required capital to facilitate this. By working closely with the Co-founders, Paul and the FSE team were able to make a growth loan from the GLIF possible.  I am excited about the positive outlook for 2021 and delighted the loan will support the team to scale-up and facilitate sales expansion.

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.

Wildanet – Lightning Fast Broadband Strikes in Rural Cornish Areas

BACKGROUND

Ian Calvert has a wealth of experience within the UK digital sector, having previously held senior positions within some of the well-known big telecoms players in the market.

Ian noted that in some rural, hard to reach areas of Cornwall, good internet connections were well below par when compared with other less rural parts of the UK. Connections in rural areas were at best intermittent, leaving many communities literally digitally stranded. Businessmen and women were unable to successfully work remotely, students were unable to access and submit coursework online and family members living in different locations were unable to connect online.

Having defined the issues these areas faced with their internet connectivity, he set himself a challenge: Ian wanted to establish a business which could provide fast, reliable internet to these hard to reach areas.

The question was “How?”

“LAGGING” BEHIND WITH BROADBAND SPEEDS

The larger internet providers really struggle to access certain areas of Cornwall. Their networks which predominantly use old copper cable networks, cannot always reach rural addresses and if they are successful in some areas, the broadband speed is often slow, resulting in a poor internet connection. These pockets of communities can be overlooked and under serviced by the larger internet providers and as a result were becoming increasingly isolated and left behind.

Ian set about putting his mission into practice, drawing on his knowledge and expertise, he embarked on researching the infrastructure available and how these rural communities could be brought into the 21st century. He quickly realised that in order to re-connect these areas, he had to use a different type of infrastructure which could provide fast broadband capable of yielding both a stable and reliable internet connection.

BROADBAND – BUT NOT AS CORNWALL KNOWS IT

In 2017, Ian established Wildanet, which is now headquarted in Liskeard, Cornwall. The business set about to deliver a high-tech, low-hassle, fast broadband solution for those hard to reach rural areas which would guarantee broadband speeds. This was key to differentiating Wildanet from the big players who are only able to guarantee an “up to” broadband speed.

Ian comments: “We explained to our potential customers who Wildanet were and our model of providing lightning fast internet for hard to reach areas. Providing we could get a line of sight to the village; we could connect the residents to our service and solve this problem.”

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE SPEED

The traditional broadband infrastructure of copper and fibre continues to get clogged up with oversubscription, which is part of the reason the larger internet providers stumbled across difficulties in rural Cornish areas.

Wildanet use an alternative method of delivering high speed broadband away from the traditional methods employed. They have evolved their infrastructure and built a box of tricks to suit the area they are connecting to and have become a hybrid supplier, combining 3 main methods of broadband technology: wireless, 4G and fibre.

So, how does it all work?

By using cutting edge wireless technology which has more capacity than the copper cable network.

  • Wildanet use their own network which runs through the air via interconnected wireless hubs
  • The state-of-the-art radio technology connects hubs to a property with the help of a small device, called a “receiver” which is placed on the outside of the property
  • The receiver is positioned so it has line of sight to the Wildanet hub
  • The hubs interact with the receiver connecting the families inside the property to the internet

A “BIT OF A GIG“ SENDS FAST NEW WAVES THROUGH LISKEARD

Liskeard is proud to be the base for the first wireless gigabit connection in Cornwall. Gigabit technology will provide additional choice for broadband technology which will deliver ultrafast speeds to over 500 properties in the area.

A gigabit is now 40 times faster than you would expect to see from your normal broadband provider. Families can be online all at the same time, participating in video conferencing, watching 4K TV and gaming consistently and confidently without interruption or loss of connectivity.

No more missed opportunities with gaming apps, no more furious clicking trying to get the last bid in for a luxury item and unluckily, no more excuses for extending assignment deadlines for students.

FAST FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE

Wildanet has led the way with installing broadband in hard to reach rural areas.

One third of Cornwall has Wildanet technology in or outside their premises. At any one time, families could be accessing a guaranteed minimum internet speed of 30Mb/s, going up to a lightning-fast 1Gb/s.

Ian Calvert, CEO and Founder of Wildanet commented, “We have been fortunate enough to have received funding over £1.35 million from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund and matched funders, to allow us to expediate our growth strategy bringing reliable super-fast broadband to Cornwall’s hard to reach rural areas in the last few years. During the challenging times we have all been facing during the global pandemic, it was imperative that we continue to support existing customers whilst striving to get new customers connected. I am proud to say that during these times, we have connected more homes than ever before and connected vulnerable families as part of our supporting school’s project. Moving forward there is a real opportunity for us to radically improve connection speeds for homes and businesses across Cornwall currently experiencing low bandwidths and to further continue our expansion plans in the South West. We are excited about what is in store for Wildanet in the coming months.” 

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 The FSE Group.

Ralph Singleton, Head of Funds Cornwall at The FSE Group adds, “Those of us in towns and cities, well serviced with good internet connections, tend to take it for granted. Digital access is part of everyday life, it is imperative for connecting with family and friends and for business and entertainment. We were delighted to be able to support Wildanet’s plans to help close the digital divide in rural areas. Their technology is top of the range and the future holds exciting opportunities for the business, including area expansion which will create more local job opportunities as they continue to grow.”

If you live in the Cornwall region and would like to find out if Wildanet could become your internet provider:

Tel: 0800 0699909

Email: hello@wildanet.com

Visit: www.wildanet.com

IgniteData – The Electronic Data Capture (EDC) Automation System, which puts a Spark in Streamlining Clinical Trial Site Processes within the NHS

BACKGROUND 

IgniteData was established in 2014, by co-founders Richard Yeatman and Dan Hydes, who met in 2013 whilst both consulting in the NHS. Richard with a focus on systems and technology, seeking to streamline the manually intensive processes with his experience and knowledge of Electronic Health Records (EHR), whilst Dan’s primary focus was on assessing commercial opportunities and potential deals for the NHS.

Introduced through work connections, they discovered that they both had a shared passion for clinical trials and had shared experiences; patient recruitment was slow, inefficient and sometimes expensive. Data collection records from trials was cumbersome. Skilled staff were removed from the critical clinical trials front line, to manually handle inordinate amounts of data for inputting, processing and finally analysis, meaning a large margin for human error which is known to result in huge levels of expensive monitoring to avoid skewing trial results.

The key to solving these issues? Getting the right people and processes in place, using the records ethically and efficiently to support research.

THE SPARK OF AN IDEA

Richard and Dan joined forces, with a shared focus on investigating how they could bring about improvements and streamline processes within the clinical trial sites.

Using EHR data, they originally set-about researching how they could best achieve their goal to improve the whole process of patient recruitment, finding the right patient, assigning them to a trial and then, how to keep them and their data managed once enrolled on the trial. This would hopefully reduce the manual processes at trial sites, improve efficiencies, reduce cost and ultimately help to speed new treatments to patients.

As time moved on and they received greater feedback from the industry, they both realised the technical challenge many wanted to solve, was automating this same EHR data into clinical study databases.

THE FSE GROUP ADDS FUEL TO THE FIRE

Ignite Data was going from strength to strength with their patient recruitment agency and real-world evidence studies consultancy. Processes were becoming joined up and a million miles away from the inordinate systems and duplicated processes of the past.

IgniteData worked with The FSE Group who, via the Thames Valley Berkshire Expansion Loan Scheme provided £300k by means of an expansion loan. This would enable the business to achieve their future growth and expansion plans along with researching and developing new apps.

IDEA TO REALITY – IGNITE DATA IS “GRANTED” FUNDING

To help fund their research and development, Richard and Dan were put in touch with Granted Consultancy who were able to work with the team and guide them through the application process to secure £750k grant funding from the UK Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

IGNITE DATA AND ITS BRIGHT SOLUTIONS

Utilising the grant funding, IgniteData were preparing to create a paradigm shift in clinical research with their cloud-based app known as “Archer.” The beauty of “Archer” is that it can open directly in hospital electronic records, making the collation of certain patient data electronic, more streamlined and negating the need for duplication and manual input (EHR to EDC). This also means that skilled staff remain on the critical clinical trials front line, where they are needed most.

IgniteData offers multiple solutions, but it is “Archer” the digital research assistant, which deals with reducing the manual processes at trial sites to improve efficiency, reduce cost and help speed new treatments to patients. (EHR to EDC). This is all achieved through an EHR communication technology known as HL7® FHIR®.

BURNING BRIGHTLY INTO THE FUTURE

Richard Yeatman, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer at Ignite Data commented: For Dan and I, this has been a really exciting journey. We have poured our combined knowledge into designing and delivering smarter solutions in the real-world using EHR data. IgniteData’s technology enhanced solutions allow its pharma and clinical research organisation (CRO) clients to find sites for research and clinical trials, recruit patients for their research and integrate EHR data. Acting as an interoperability aggregator for electronic health records and study database connections, IgniteData plays an important role in connecting the ecosystem. Our deeptech platform integrates key data systems, reducing the need for manual input, eliminating duplication and increasing data integrity.”

Cheryl Weeks, Head of Funds, South East comments: “Working with Richard and Dan was a real pleasure. Having both had similar experiences delivering technology within the NHS, their combined knowledge is phenomenal. Both bring different experiences to the table but with shared experiences of systems and processes, which has led to the success of IgniteData. We were pleased to secure £300k term debt finance to help them further expand their business, grow their team and keep up to date with the technology required to develop new apps.”

Jon Williams, Director, Granted Consultancy: “Assisting IgniteData in securing over £750k of grant funding to accelerate the development of their innovation is something myself and our in-house grant writing team feel very proud to have been a part of. Their technology is a market-leading solution that will help catalyse a radical shift in the way that clinical research is currently conducted. Over multiple successful awards, we’ve worked closely with the IgniteData team to ensure best fit between grant funding opportunities and the company’s strategic needs, so we share their passion for their innovative product and look forward to continuing to support them as they continue to grow and scale their business.”     

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 £50,000 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 Cheryl Weeks cheryl.weeks@thefsegroup.com  tel: 01276 607303 / 07866 835143

To find out more about IgniteData and to arrange to speak with an Archer expert, contact them directly or visit their website:

Tel: 0118 453 0403

Email: contact@ignitedata.co.uk

Web: https://www.ignitedata.co.uk/

Luton Manufacturer set to Expand after £350k MEIF Investment

A Luton-based manufacturer of cutting equipment has secured a £350,000 investment to expand its product line and create new jobs.

Bright Instruments secured the finance from The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund, part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

Established in 1937, Bright Instruments specialises in the design and development of cutting equipment used across the medical, education and manufacturing sectors.

The company is set to use the funding to expand its technical, sales and marketing teams – creating seven new roles. It will also increase research and development as the business looks to expand its product offering.

Bright Instruments was bought by its current owners, Harry Nugent and Robert Stanley, in 2015. Both owners are planning on using the finance to further build the company’s reputation for reliability, backed by innovation and imagination.

Harry Nugent, Co‐Owner of Bright Instrument Co, commented: “We are immensely proud of our business and with the support of MEIF, this funding will enable us to reach the next level of growth: expanding our technical, sales and marketing teams, creating seven new positions in 2021. We will also be able to focus strongly on research and development to expand our product offering.

“David, from The FSE Group, supported and helped us through the process of obtaining the MEIF funding and we would like to extend our thanks to him for his guidance.”

David Price, Fund Manager, at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund adds: “Working with Harry and Robert was great. Their business is innovative and provides valuable products to the health sector. We were pleased to be able to support a long-standing manufacturing business, helping it to unlock further growth potential. We look forward to seeing the business expand and further strengthen its team and product range.”

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said: “This is another example of how MEIF funding is being used to support a growing business and the creation of new skilled jobs. The MEIF works with its Fund Managers across the Midlands, providing important funding to help businesses looking to scale up and grow and we’d encourage other small
businesses in the Midlands to consider the finance options available through the Fund.”

Vicky Hlomuka, SEMLEP’s Growth Hub Manager, said: “This is a significant investment that will enable expansion and job growth for Bright Instruments. It is good to see businesses with heritage in our area looking at investment as a way to grow. The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is a great option for businesses in the South East Midlands.”

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.

For more information about the MEIF Debt Finance Fund visit https://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/midlands-engine-investment-fund-debt-finance/ or contact David Price at david.price@thefsegroup.com tel: 07798 884711.

For more information about Bright Instruments, visit https://brightinstruments.co.uk.

Protective cycle wear business completes £300k funding round with CIOSIF support

ArmaUrto (ArmaUrto.com), an innovative provider of protective cycle wear, has secured a £150k equity investment from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF), as part of a larger £300k funding round. The investment round was led by The FSE Group, the appointed fund manager of CIOSIF.

Interest in road cycling has long been on an upward trend and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic cycling activity has been propelled higher by as much as 100%. Whilst overall the activity is extremely beneficial for health and fitness, unfortunately accidents involving bikes in the UK have also risen to more than 25,000 per annum.

Chris Battin, founder of ArmaUrto, was quick to recognise the risks that cyclists face and after having a serious accident himself, he realised just how vulnerable and exposed to potential falls and collisions cyclists actually are. He also realised that unlike the protective garments motorcyclists wear, generic sportswear or lycra garments for road cyclists offer minimal impact protection.

This inspired him to create a range of protective clothing for road cycling, and ArmaUrto was born: an innovative range of protective cycle wear. The clothing range is designed to offer all the benefits of traditional high-performance cycle wear whilst incorporating extremely low-profile but effective crash protection for critical areas using “ARMA” material. This EN12621-1 accredited energy absorbing material dissipates the impact of a fall, allows for ventilation and air flow and can be washed repeatedly.

ArmaUrto benefits from a strong management team including former Moss Bros CEO Rowland Gee as Chairman, and Imogen Battin as Operations Manager. In addition, as part of the transaction, experienced South West-based businessman Clive Banks is joining the company as a non-executive director.

Chris Battin, Founder of ArmaUrto comments: “After my cycling accident, I was keen to develop a range of innovative protective cycle wear that is on trend and functional. The range offers maximum protection to keep cyclists safe whilst commuting in peak hour traffic or out on country lanes. This investment will help us to expand our current product range and further develop our marketing. The first stage of this will be the re-launch of our website which will tie in with our relocation to Saltash. Exciting times are ahead for ArmaUrto and our thanks to Martin at The FSE Group for helping us realise the next stage of our business development.”

Martin Macey, Fund Manager at The FSE Group, added: “It was a real pleasure to work with Chris and the team. Being a regular road cyclist myself, I could immediately see the appeal of ArmaUrto’s high-quality products that address a clear market gap. Road cycling is a ‘hot sector’ for investment and Cornwall is becoming known as a popular location for a number of top cycling brands. We’re excited to be supporting ArmaUrto’s high-calibre management team on their journey.”

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 The FSE Group.

Sarah Newbould, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “This investment is a great example of how CIOSIF can help businesses to scale up and attract additional investment. We are pleased to see CIOSIF continuing to provide vital funding which can make a real and measurable difference to businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that ArmaUrto is revolutionising cycle wear. The combination of innovative products, a strong management team and the continued boom in cycling means the company is ideally placed for strong growth. We’re delighted to be investing in the business.”

CIOSIF is supported 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

GLIF Loan Enables a Team of Creative Storytellers to keep Audio Advertising Personalised in the Future

London and New York based business, A Million Ads has secured a £250,000 loan from the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Acclaimed producer, strategist and engineer, Steve Dunlop, founded his London based dynamic digital audio and video advertising business in 2015, and established the New York branch in 2018.
A Million Ads are the personalisation experts for audio and video advertising. The company uses contextual data to create personalised ads with more context and more relevance to better connect with consumers.

This innovative platform for producers and creatives, allows them to build millions of versions of an ad quickly and easily. The platform leverages information known about consumers, the brand and campaign to influence the content of the ad, such as the music, voice-over, or sound effects.

The business works with music streaming, internet radio and podcasting services around the world, and has produced more than 960 campaigns to date globally, for world-leading brands such as eBay, Adidas, McDonald’s, British Gas and Sky.

Steve Dunlop, Founder and CEO of A Million Ads commented: “I am passionate about story-telling and bringing tales to life. Tech and creativity may not sound like a natural fit, but for our clients, using A Million Ads technology allows their creativity to flourish, ensuring their brands come alive. The result – telling an engaging and compelling story which effectively communicates their message. This loan has come at a great time to support our business as we have a growing in-house team, consisting of creative, engineering and sales. Thanks to both GLIF and David at The FSE Group who are helping us drive the business forward whilst shaping and strengthening it in line with our future plans.”

David Booth, Senior Fund Manager for The FSE Group, who manage the £55 million GLIF debt fund on behalf of Funding London, commented: “It was great working with Steve and his senior team at A Million Ads. Our aim is to offer support for ambitious high growth businesses and A Million Ads is certainly proof of that as they pioneer change in the digital marketplace. We look forward to being part of their exciting future.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds: “We are delighted to welcome ‘A Million Ads’ to the GLIF portfolio. We could see immediately a big ambition to grow the business and a need for capital to facilitate this. By working with Steve and his team, we’ve been able to make the loan to support the team’s vision for the year ahead.”

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 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS). Deadline for CBILS applications has been extended to 30 November for UK businesses.

Hampshire based Software Applications Business Completes £400,000 Funding Round with Investment from the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund

EXM Insight, the next-generation solution for portfolio monitoring and value creation for the Private Equity industry, has successfully completed a £400,000 funding round with a £200,000 investment from the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund, managed by The FSE Group.

Juan Manrique the founder of Hydra and Manfredi Bargioni the COO, executed a spin-out of EXM-Insight from Hydra in 2019 to deliver this innovative digital solution for the Private Equity Industry. It is designed to help Private Equity general partners to define, communicate and control the execution of their business strategy around the concept of “Value Creation Drivers”. With a unique technology to extract financial data directly from companies’ accounting systems, EXM also ensures the timeliness and integrity of data contributing to the monthly and quarterly reports of the funds.

Currently, there are no other businesses operating in the marketplace that can offer a similar digitised product solution to that of EXM-Insight. Operating off any device, this solution has many benefits for Private Equity managers who have continually sought to digitise the core of their operational toolkit, in the knowledge that the greater the standardisation of processes across a portfolio, the greater the visibility, control and potential to drive higher efficiencies, profits and exit valuations.

 Juan Manrique, Founder of EXM Insight, commented, “Value creation is a vital aspect of managing a Private Equity portfolio and EXM offers the digital solution to align all stakeholders and accelerate the process of creating value. All the while providing accurate, timely financial and operations data to make real-time decisions, ultimately supporting portfolio managers to achieve greater profitability and growth. We were really pleased to be able to secure funding from The FSE Group, working closely with Paul to ensure that we can continue to grow the business by offering the best agile software solution for this industry.”

Paul Lyristis, Senior Fund Manager, at The FSE Group, which manages the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund on behalf of the LEP adds: “EXM-Insight offer a great solution for Private Equity investors to drive and monitor value creation for their portfolio companies.  Insight has been designed from scratch as a bespoke solution for Private Equity; we believe that there is no other comparable product in the market. Working with Juan and his team was a real pleasure and we look forward to watching the business continue to grow and to alter the way that PE investors look at their portfolios.”

Kathy Slack OBE, Enterprise M3 CEO said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to invest in EXM-Insight through the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund; encouraging innovation is at the heart of everything we do. The digitisation of our economy is becoming increasingly important to businesses so to see a company innovate and create a bespoke financial product unlike anything else on the market is fantastic and something that our area can be rightly proud of.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator II is £10 million 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 / 07973 712203.

For more information about EXM Insight, visit  https://www.exm.cloud or contact Sacha Holmes tel: +44 203 884 8890