Wayroo is a software platform for use in the automotive leasing sector.

A company whose events software platform is used by organisers of international sports competitions has raised £400,000 to support its further growth.

Iventis has secured investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), and the government’s Future Fund. The company, which has been bucking the industry trend, is planning to use the funding to create seven new jobs.

Iventis is the leading platform of its type for large events, exhibitions and festivals. It enables large teams to collaborate online to plan and manage complex operations by bringing together mapping, architectural drawings and other data.

The company, which was founded by Joe Cusdin who had worked on the London 2012 Summer Olympics, says the pandemic has increased demand for its software. Although major events and festivals have been postponed, reorganising them while taking into account social distancing and events teams working from home has highlighted the need for online tools and more detailed planning. The latest funding round follows a £250,000 investment by MEIF last year.

Iventis Non-Executive Chairman, Keith Greetham, said:I’m delighted to see Iventis make huge leaps forward in its growth. The company is recruiting talent from within the events industry, which has suffered immensely during the pandemic. We already have high-profile early adopters of the Iventis software, many of which are relying on its capabilities to reschedule and redesign their events.”

Sandy Reid, Investment Director at Mercia, added: “Iventis is well positioned to help the events industry reorganise events and recover from the impact of the pandemic. The business continues to build relationships with top-level global event organisers and this investment will allow it to expand its team further as client numbers increase.”

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank said: “The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is committed to ensuring Midlands’ businesses have access to the finance they need to grow. This latest investment will enable Iventis to develop its innovative software platform, whilst creating new job opportunities in the region.”

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Iventis is a great example of an innovative Lincolnshire tech business and we’re very pleased to see its growth supported by this funding. The events and festivals sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and we applaud Iventis for adapting and innovating in order to support event organisers in the UK and around the world.

“It’s fantastic to see more and more businesses thriving in the emerging digital cluster we have here, and good to see that they’re being nurtured in a really supportive business environment.”

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.

 

An award-winning businesswoman whose software platform helps companies to manage rebate and incentive schemes has raised a further £950,000 from investors.

Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE, who founded the e-Bate platform, secured the money from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s own EIS funds and the government’s Future Fund.

With the pandemic having boosted demand for the e-Bate platform, the funding will allow the Leicester-based firm to create five new jobs and further increase global sales. This latest funding round is the second investment by MEIF and brings the total raised so far by the company to over £2m.

Rebates and promotional incentives are widely used in sectors such as construction, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and automotive, where suppliers offer big incentives to buyers to encourage them to buy more of their products. The e-Bate software platform helps companies to manage and simplify these schemes which historically have been complex and calculated manually using spreadsheets.

Leanne, who also founded Leicester’s Evolve-IT Consulting, was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to women in business. She explains: “Rebates can make a big difference to the net price paid and some businesses depend on them to achieve profitability. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of managing rebates more effectively. A fall in sales volumes will have affected businesses on both sides and some will be looking to renegotiate contracts, which are no longer commercially viable.  e-Bate offers greater visibility of the process and provides the data insights needed to make better commercial decisions to boost revenue recovery.”

Sandy Reid, Investment Director at Mercia, added: “Over £100 billion of rebates are processed each year in the UK alone and in industries such as food production they are used all along the supply chain. e-Bate is the only product of its type that helps companies to manage such schemes efficiently. Leanne and the team are making great progress even with the economic backdrop of COVID-19.  We are pleased to be able to continue supporting this fast-growing software business.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “It is great to see companies like e-Bate building on their initial support from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.  We saw from The Early Assessment Report into the Fund that investee businesses develop greater confidence in raising further external finance and this investment into e-Bate is a good example of that in practice. Having successfully secured further funding, e-Bate will be able to accelerate its growth.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board of Directors, said:“Financial services are one of our key industries here in Leicester and Leicestershire, so I’m very pleased that the MEIF was able to support a business that is taking an innovative approach to helping businesses manage profitability. The LLEP is committed to supporting our businesses through COVID-19, so it’s great to see such a streamlined solution to rebates that will be of great benefit to the wider business community.”

Tom Gray, partner at Knights PLC, provided legal advice to Mercia.

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.

A company which develops conversational assistants capable of manning helpdesks and answering technical enquiries has raised £700,000 to help scale up its operations.

Humley secured the investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s own EIS funds and a private investor.

The funding, which follows an earlier round by private investors, brings the total raised by Humley to £1.4m and will allow the Northampton-based company to grow its customer base and revenue ahead of a planned Series A funding round next year.

Humley’s assistants can be used to help customers or employees find the information they need  – such as technical details of a product, search a database or find a research paper – or to field HR enquiries. The assistants incorporate a number of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and are easy to use. The technology also integrates with other AI solutions including robotic process automation (RPA) which many large firms are using to manage back-office processes.

Humley was established in 2017 as a spin-out from mobile payments provider Infomedia, where it was developed to support customer service. Its technology is now in use by a number of large corporates and has been taken up by two of the UK’s leading advisory firms who are deploying it within client companies.

Adam Harrold, CEO of Humley, said: This investment round represents a significant endorsement of our technology. The conversational AI market is very noisy with many big players. Our unique approach has made us the platform of choice for many global players and has allowed us to roll out our technology. This investment enables us to further establish ourselves in the market as a leading provider of conventional AI for enterprise and take the business to the next level.”

Stephen Windsor at Mercia, added: “Conversational AI assistants are a cost-effective way for companies to deliver high quality, 24/7 customer service across a range of channels. We were impressed by Humley’s platform which is much easier to use, quicker to deploy and more cost-effective than its competitors. We are excited to be supporting Adam and the team as they scale up the business ahead of the next investment round.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “Supporting innovation is one of the key objectives for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.  This investment will enable the firm to continue on its growth trajectory and I’d encourage other SMEs in the Midlands that are looking to grow to also consider the options available through the MEIF.”

Vicky Hlomuka, Growth Hub Manager at the South East Midlands LEP, said: “Humley has shown that innovative businesses can grow and develop at a quick pace. It is important that these businesses in our area have the opportunity for investment to grow and innovate further. It is great to see the investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund support them in their journey to further scale up.”

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.

 

 

A start-up which aims to use cutting-edge technologies to help farmers improve crop yields has raised £250,000 from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

The funding will allow Earth Rover to launch its first product, a ‘crop scouting’ system which predicts the size and timing of harvests. The Earth Rover system uses cameras fitted to a tractor to scan the plants and measure their growth as the vehicle passes through the fields on routine farm operations. The data is then analysed using artificial intelligence (AI) housed in a supercomputer on board the tractor.

Crop scouting is traditionally carried out by farmers walking the field. Earth Rover, which is based in Newport, Shropshire, aims to provide more accurate predictions to help them produce the right number of crops – enough to meet contracts with buyers while avoiding food waste that has to be ploughed back into the fields. It also helps farmers plan their harvesting labour requirements.

The system, which is suitable for high value crops such as broccoli and lettuce, is currently being trialled at Polybell Farm in Doncaster, one of the UK’s leading organic vegetable producers. Earth Rover will initially target growers in the UK and Spain, which has a year-round season. The company, which has been funded so far through angel investment and by a contract with the European Space Agency, is also working on robotic systems for herbicide-free weeding and harvesting.

The MEIF funding will be paid in two tranches over the next 12 months subject to commercial milestones and will allow the company to fund current trials and bring the product to market.

David Whitewood, CEO of Earth Rover, said: “Technologies such as AI and robotics have revolutionised manufacturing in recent years, yet agriculture has suffered from a lack of investment and still relies on traditional techniques. At a time when we face the challenge of feeding a growing population with limited land and labour supplies, it is time for agriculture to undergo the same transformation. At Earth Rover we aim to play a leading role in the digitisation of farming to make the industry more productive and sustainable.”

David Baker, Investment Manager at Mercia, added: “Vegetable growers routinely overplant crops due to the difficulty in predicting yields and the need to fulfil stringent contracts with supermarkets. This pushes up costs and means that much of the crop simply rots in the fields, creating additional carbon emissions. We believe Earth Rover’s system could help increase crop yields by 5 per cent and reduce costs by a similar amount. This funding will help the company to prove its value and launch into the market.”

Ryan Cartwright, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “This latest equity investment is a great example of the innovative Midlands’ businesses that the MEIF seeks to support.  The funding will help Earth Rover as it begins to commercialise its technology and we’d encourage other start-ups within Shropshire and the Marches area to consider the options available through the MEIF.”

Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is a hugely exciting project which shows the Marches is at the cutting edge of innovation in agriculture and developing high-tech solutions which improve efficiency and sustainability. We are delighted that the MEIF has supported Earth Rover and look forward to this project going from strength to strength.”

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.

 

Earth Rover is a Shropshire-based agri-tech start-up developing a software solution to provide arable farmers with data crop production providing actionable insights to improve yield.

A company which has developed a new payment system for the games industry has secured a further £200k investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

Transaction Technologies’ new platform will target the multi-billion-dollar market for in-game downloads. PlayerLands, as it is known, allows players to buy virtual goods within games and is one of the few systems that will accept payments in real money rather than cryptocurrencies.

The platform provides a secure payment system that makes it easy to buy and sell virtual products online and for developers to set up their own stores, market their goods and manage their businesses.

The latest funding round will allow the Derby-based firm to finalise and launch its platform, while creating four new jobs in Derby for developers and customer service staff.

Transaction Technologies was set up by serial entrepreneurs Alex Booth and Nick Gillett (pictured). Booth has worked as a consultant in the gaming industry while Gillett is a games industry journalist and former Guardian columnist who has successfully exited previous start-ups. Having secured an initial £200k investment from MEIF to build the platform, the entrepreneurshave now successfully integrated it with the leading payment systems and are in discussions with a number of games developers.

Nick Gillett said: “The games business, and especially the highly social world of server-based games, have been growing rapidly for years. We make it easy for developers and server owners to monetise their services, leaving them to concentrate on making the best entertainment.”

Sandy Reid, Investment Director at Mercia, added: Online gaming is an exciting sector that has grown significantly during the global lockdown. Transaction Technologies is filling a gap in the market for a secure and professional payment system. We are pleased to further support the business with this latest investment which will allow it to launch PlayerLands and to capitalise on the favourable market conditions.”

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager  at the British Business Bank, said: The MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund was set up to support start-ups across the region looking to get a business idea off the ground initially and then, grow with further investment. Transaction Technologies is a good example of this, with the MEIF initially providing funding to help the firm develop its platform and now supporting a second round of funding enabling it to launch to market.”

Sajeeda Rose, CEO at D2N2 LEP, said: “Our area has a thriving creative & digital industry and I’m pleased to see continued investment by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund into innovative businesses such as Transaction Technologies which can help drive our economic recovery by creating high-skilled jobs in our region.”

Tom Gray, Partner at Knights plc, provided legal advice to the fund.

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.

 

 

A biotech company which is developing new treatments for patients with serious spinal conditions has completed a £2.25m funding round led by Mercia Asset Management to help to continue its ground-breaking research and bring its first products to market.

Locate Bio has secured the investment from Mercia’s own balance sheet, its EIS fund and the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and the Future Fund.  Together with earlier funding rounds from Mercia and MEIF, it brings the total raised by the company to over £8m.

Locate Bio’s first product, which is at the pre-clinical development stage, will help patients who require spinal fusion surgery, where bones are permanently joined together to overcome low back pain. It uses a type of bone protein to remove the need for a bone graft. Its second therapy will be for the biological renewal of the intervertebral discs and will help those suffering from degenerative disc disease, a painful condition affecting 33 million people in the US and EU.

Locate Bio is a spin-out from the University of Nottingham and based on the research of Professor Kevin Shakesheff, a world-leading expert in regenerative medicine. The company, which initially started out as a contract research organisation, first received investment from Mercia in 2018.

John von Benecke, CEO of Locate, said: “I am delighted by the continued support of our lead investor. This investment will allow us to maintain the excellent progress with our lead product and further the development of a pipeline of synergistic products.”

Dr Ian Wilding, Chairman of Locate said: “This investment comes at an important time for the Company as it enters an exciting phase. Despite the uncertainty and disruption that COVID-19 has brought to so many industries, the Locate team have relentlessly executed against its aggressive timelines and the additional funding announced today is a welcome validation of the progress that has been made.”

Peter Dines, Chief Operating Officer of Mercia, said: “We are very pleased to continue to support John and the team at Locate. Their lead product has the potential to disrupt a $3bn market, and we remain excited by the prospect of helping to build a world-leading business.”

Ken Cooper Managing Director, British Business Bank, added: “We are pleased that the MEIF Proof of Concept fund has been able to support further investment into Locate Bio.  Along with the bank’s other programmes the MEIF funds are investing to support SMEs in the region and are still very much open for business. This second round of funding recognises a business which has continued to make good progress despite the difficulties caused by Covid 19.”

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.

SaaS enterprise software for rebate management.

Sigmavision was founded in 2003 to develop, manufacture and sell laser-scanning tools for measuring tread depth on tyres. Based in the UK, Sigmavision is a high tech company, with world class expertise in laser sensor and camera imaging technology.