A Liverpool firm whose geospatial software helps utility companies to map the location of pipelines and infrastructure and keep services up and running has raised £600,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Mobile GIS Services (MGISS) uses satellite data and mapping technologies to help operators identify potential risks, such as construction work taking place close to underground cables or power lines, or when planning new projects to ensure the work does not affect existing infrastructure.
The funding will support the development of a new and more powerful system that MGISS is working on with the European Space Agency (ESA). It will use high-resolution satellite images provided by the ESA to create an ‘eye in the sky’, enabling utility firms worldwide to oversee key locations while cutting carbon emissions by reducing or removing the need for helicopters ‘fly overs’.
MGISS, which employs 14 staff, expects to create 11 new jobs in the year ahead as a result of the funding. The latest investment follows three years of growth for the company, during which time it has increased annual recurring revenue by over 300 per cent.
Current clients include Northumbrian Water Group, Wales and West Utilities and Severn Trent Water, construction firms such as Galliford Try, and bodies such as the National Trust which uses its systems to map heritage sites and South West Peatland Partnership which uses them to monitor conservation work.
Mercia first backed the company’s CEO Mike Darracott, a geospatial specialist, in 2014 through another of its funds under management, the North West Fund for Venture Capital, to enable him to set up a consultancy business.
Mike Darracott said: “Supply interruptions cost utility companies billions of pounds each year, not only in trying to repair and restore supplies but also paying compensation to customers. Construction work is a key cause of disruption and the situation is likely to get worse in the future if planning laws are relaxed. Our systems help them make the most of the available data and take a pro-active approach to identifying and tackling potential hazards. The new system will be the most powerful to date and could help companies to dramatically reduce downtime, regulatory fines and their environmental impact.”
Rob Hornby of Mercia said: “MGISS has successfully pivoted from being a consultancy firm to a software business and achieved impressive growth in recent years. The company addresses a key concern for utility providers. We are pleased to support the development of this new solution which we believe will have a huge global market.”
Keira Shepperson, Director at British Business Bank, said: “Investment into technology is crucial in creating a hub of innovation and excellence across the North. Working with the European Space Agency, the work of MGISS goes beyond its Liverpool base, demonstrating the reach of NPIF beyond just its geography. We look forward to supporting the business as it continues to grow.”
The current NPIF investment phase has now completed with the British Business Bank launching the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II in March 2024.
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.