Mercia EIS Funds

AI company raises £1.5m to roll out social housing platform

An artificial intelligence (AI) company which has launched a new platform to help social landlords manage rent arrears has raised a further £1.55m from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), and Mercia’s EIS funds.

Pivigo’s platform – that is already used by Peabody, London Borough of Camden, Community Housing and Cobalt – uses machine learning to help maximise rent collection, identify tenants most in need of support and transform productivity.

The latest funding follows an initial £1.25m investment from Mercia and NPIF in 2021, which helped the Sheffield-based company to develop the platform. Since then it has more than doubled the size of its team to over 20. The latest round will enable Pivigo to create new jobs, boost its sales and marketing, and roll out the product to more social landlords.

Founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Jason Muller, Pivigo started out as a consultancy delivering bespoke solutions for clients including AstraZeneca, Royal Mail, Compare The Market and the Food Standards Agency. It went on to develop an ‘AI as a service’ platform that could be adapted to create different products for different sectors. Its social housing product Occupi is the first of these.

The roll-out is being led by its CEO Alexandra Willard, who was previously CEO of connected car company Tantalum and was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UK chip maker Imagination Technologies.

Alex Willard (pictured), who is the company’s CEO, said: Managers can only make decisions on the basis of the data insights available, however most organisations lack data insights so make poor decisions. Machine learning radically improves the odds – helping to improve outcomes and profitability. Our product enables organisations to feel the benefits without the need for their own data science team.

“We are pleased to be working with Mercia to roll it out to social landlords, especially at the current time when the cost of living crisis is putting their tenants’ finances under greater pressure.”

Will Clark of Mercia added: “Social landlords have to strike a difficult balance – maintaining the flow of rental income and preventing a build-up of arrears while supporting those most in need. Pivigo’s platform helps them manage their operations more intelligently and redefine their approach to arrears management. We believe there is a huge potential market, not just in the UK but in other countries with a big social housing sector. The funding will help Pivigo to tap into that.”

Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank, said: “Companies that deliver social outcomes as well as providing innovative solutions to a market are what truly cement the beneficial relationships between communities and corporations. Pivigo have come a long way since its first round of funding, and this second round will surely accelerate its growth even further. This is a stalwart Sheffield business that is playing its part in building a stronger North.”

The Northern Powerhouse 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.