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Analysing Early-Stage SME Growth and Opportunities

About The FSE Group

At The FSE Group, our focus is to support the rise of high growth UK SMEs, especially in underrepresented areas of the UK. As a dedicated early-stage investor and lender with over 20 years’ of experience in the early-stage SME market, we have seen how, over time, the ecosystem has started to mature.

The growth of the VC market

In particular, the European Tech industry has seen significant growth over the last 10 years, with the UK at its focal point. A recent report published by Mountside Ventures (access here), found that UK start-up expenditure has increased from £2 billion in 2011 to £12 billion in 2020. This is welcome news for the UK tech ecosystem, but is it realistic to expect this level of growth to be sustained?

The British Business Bank’s recent report on VC returns in the UK, found that Funds which are based outside of the Golden Triangle (London, Oxford and Cambridge) offer the potential for higher returns.  

The report also mentions that early-stage VC’s have the potential for higher returns than other stages of the market – this is particularly positive news given the historical reluctance of institutional LPs in Europe to invest in early-stage Venture Funds. However, the capital raised by Buyout Funds in Europe, was still 3.7x higher than the capital raised by Venture Funds in Europe (Atomico’s State of European Tech 2019), so there is still quite some way to go.

As the UK SME investment industry matures, Funds start to specialise in specific areas or sectors due in part to the potential availability of more businesses in these sectors who are looking to raise capital.

SMEs and the current economic climate

Whilst there is uncertainty in the current markets due to COVID-19 and it is still too early to know what the real impact of this crisis will be on the SME ecosystem, the inherent qualities of Venture Funds allow them to be resilient, because they are designed to cope with uncertainty and market cycles due to their long fund lives. This can be taken a step further with regard to Evergreen Funds, which do not, unlike many Venture Funds, have a fixed fund cycle. Thus allowing for long-term, patient capital to be re-invested into SMEs, especially in the early-stages.

In Summary

It is clear that the early-stage SME market in the UK is growing and needs a strong early-stage finance industry in order to support its growth. At The FSE Group, we are committed to supporting eligible, ambitious, innovative, high growth and scalable SMEs to help fuel their growth ambitions, as an essential part of helping the UK’s economic bounce back.

To find out more, why not join us for a fireside chat with Mountside Ventures on the 10th of December at 12:00? We will be discussing early-stage fundraising for SMEs and how they can improve their chance of success. To attend this event, please register on the Eventbrite link here:

For more information on FSE’s funds under management visit:

Words by Julie Silvester, Head of Commercial at The FSE Group.

GLIF Loan Supports Artificial Intelligence Business to Deliver Automation of Industrial Inspections

London based business, Inspection2 has secured a £250,000 loan from The Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Inspection2 has been transforming the automation of industrial inspection since 2012. Inspection² was incubated inside Sky-Futures, a leading global drone services provider and spun out before the sale of Sky-Futures to Private Equity in May 2019.

Inspection² software uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automation, and 3D visualisation to automatically analyse inspection images, saving up to 70% of engineering time compared to traditional methods. A powerful AI platform that enables the captured data to be turned into actionable information. This delivers major reductions in OPEX and risk by providing a path to inspection automation and reporting by exception. Its ability to correctly identify billable assets also supports more effective inventory, Partner, and cost base management.

As an independent business, Inspection2 will focus on industrial inspections within the Telecommunications, Transmission & Distribution and Oil & Gas sectors, solving critical business infrastructure problems.

Whether inspection, upgrade, maintenance or decommissioning, this technology enables those sectors to utilise all of the information needed to make better and more informed decisions. The client can store and manage large volumes of data collected from multiple sources including handheld cameras and smartphones, delivering significant flexibility.

James Harison, Founder and CEO of Inspection2 commented: “Understanding the unique requirements of our target sectors is key to our business. The software solution was built to specifically address the volume of data being collected by drones and to automate data processing, allowing an operator to build up a picture of industrial asset condition over time, in a highly structured asset base. This loan will help us strengthen our business and I would like to thank GLIF and David at The FSE Group for facilitating the loan to help us continue to service our existing contracts and to deliver 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: “We were impressed by the team at Inspection2 who have developed a product which saves time and money for operators of critical infrastructure assets. The market opportunity is substantial across Telecommunications, Transmission & Distribution and Oil & gas and we look forward to supporting the business through its next phase of growth.”

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, CEO at Funding London, adds: “Inspection‘s AI based solution, offers important efficiency gains in critical infrastructure sectors such as oil and gas.  We are delighted the loan provided by GLIF will help James and his team deliver existing commitments, facilitate growth and achieve future business goals in 2021 and beyond.”

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 31st January 2021 for UK businesses.

Leicestershire Food Safety Tech Firm set to Expand Following £500k MEIF Investment

A Leicestershire based food safety technology business has secured a £500,000 investment to scale-up operations and boost their ambitious growth plans.

Navitas Digital Safety Ltd (Navitas), which operates out of Phoenix Park in Coalville, has secured the finance from The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

The firm is set to use the funding to invest in the development of the first of its kind safety platform, which will be a single destination for food safety. The platform will allow hospitality businesses to manage their entire safety operations, all in one place. It will also enable Navitas to offer a SaaS model, providing the platform at a monthly price, making the best safety tools and services accessible to any size business.

Established in 2014 by Ben Gardner, Navitas digitalises time consuming and labour-intensive food safety processes, which must be followed to maintain food safety and health and safety regulations within the food hospitality sector.

Ben Gardner, CEO of Navitas, commented:

“Every food service business knows and understands the importance of health and safety. I am passionate about making the complex world of food safety legislation as simple and cost effective as possible. Our aim is to become the leading “one stop” food health and safety consultancy, compliance, training and digital safety management company within the food hospitality sector. Having successfully secured the funding, we can confidently grow our business to the next level to achieve this.”

Paul Lynam, Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund added:

“We are proud to have supported Navitas with their expansion plans. The job creation will have a positive impact on the local economy and further strengthen the future of the business. Through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, The FSE Group are committed to providing finance for innovative Midlands based businesses with the potential to grow.”

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank said:

“The MEIF fund managers work closely with one another across the Midlands to help businesses in the region access the finance they need to develop and grow. This latest investment into Navitas builds on the earlier debt and equity finance provided by MEIF and demonstrates the various finance options available through the fund. We’d encourage other businesses across Leicestershire and the whole region to consider these options.”   

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 or contact Paul Lynam at tel: 07818 087997

For more information about Navitas Digital Safety Limited, visit

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:

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 or contact Cheryl Weeks 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:

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


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?”


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.


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 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


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.


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



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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®.


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 or contact Cheryl Weeks  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



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 or contact David Price at tel: 07798 884711.

For more information about Bright Instruments, visit