NPIF Equity

Proptech firm raises £250k for software to improve building safety

An award-winning proptech business whose software could help improve building safety has raised £250,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

The funding will enable Hull-based Bimsense to further enhance its platform before the introduction of new rules to improve the safety of high-rise buildings. The Building Safety Bill, which is expected to become law within the next few months, will oblige building owners to ensure that safety is considered at every stage, from design to construction and occupation.

Operance enables owners and contractors to access up-to-date and accurate digital building information, providing a better understanding of a building to help ensure safety and improve efficiency throughout its entire lifecycle. The software, which incorporates blockchain technology, produces a secure audit trail and aims to comply with the government’s ‘golden thread’ requirements.

Bimsense, a specialist in building information modelling (BIM) which generates digital representations of buildings, was founded in 2016 by Ian Yeo and Scott Pilgrim, who have both advised on major developments throughout the UK and internationally.

They raised an initial £250,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance in 2020 to launch Operance. The software has won multiple industry awards, and is already used by a number of well-known industry names. Along with further enhancements to its software platform, the latest investment will also enable the company to create four new jobs in Hull.

Ian Yeo, CEO at Bimsense, said: “The recent issues regarding cladding have highlighted the need for greater knowledge about individual buildings and a way to track their history. By providing a modern ‘operations and maintenance manual’, Operance will play a key role in helping owners to comply with the rules and improve safety. The initial NPIF funding helped us to bring the software to market and the latest round will enable us to take it to the next level. It’s exciting to know we are at the forefront in developing this solution.”

Maurice Disasi, Investment Associate at Mercia said: “The construction sector has been slow to adopt digital technology to date. However, there is now growing awareness of the potential it offers to improve efficiency and safety and we expect the new Building Safety Bill will further drive uptake. This latest funding will allow Bimsense to further enhance the product and build its client base.”

Phil Glover, Business Development Manager at Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted to see further investment from the Fund going into this innovative Hull-based business. By using their latest software, the design and construction industry will have access to a wider range of tools to help improve building safety and deliver on our energy efficiency targets as we move towards a Net Zero economy.”

Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank, said: “Bimsense is a great example of the fast-growing technology businesses the North has to offer. The digital economy is a key area for NPIF and it is fantastic to see this local business receive even more investment to accelerate its software launch and become leaders in building information modelling. Supporting businesses like Bimsense is key to achieving a stronger north and bringing economic growth to the region.”

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.