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A Sheffield animation studio which has won international acclaim is expanding with the help a £100,000 loan from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Red Star 3D creates its own films which are shown in cinemas, theme parks, museums and other venues. Its most recent creation, StarDog and TurboCat, opened in cinemas last December and is currently available on Amazon.
Founded in 2004 by Ben Smith and Jan Rogowski, Red Star is recognised as one of the leading independent studios of its type worldwide and has won dozens of awards and nominations at film festivals. It is now expanding its services to produce work for film companies worldwide and has already won one major contract.
The company, which currently employs 10 people, is planning to create an additional 40 jobs in the next two years. The loan from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will help to fund its growth and its recruitment plans.
Ben Smith, co-founder, said: “We’re delighted Mercia have chosen to support our expansion plans. While this is a challenging time for many business owners, demand for our animation production services is booming. The funding will allow us to take advantage of the opportunities it brings.”
Pete Sorsby, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “Red Star Entertainment is a successful studio with a strong management team and a worldwide reputation for its work. The funding will enable it to take on new projects and create new skilled jobs to expand Sheffield’s growing digital sector.”
Mark Wilcockson at the British Business Bank, said: “Since its launch in 2017, NPIF’s impact on businesses has been wide-ranging, providing funding to launch new products, employ new staff, enter new markets and acquire new facilities. We are pleased that NPIF is supporting this growing Sheffield based digital company and providing vital investment to to unlock the North’s growth potential
Red Star received fundraising advice from Dan Wilkinson of Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Access to Finance, while Steven Crookes of Knowles Warwick accountants provided advice on the investment.
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.
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.
Julian joined Mercia through the 2016 acquisition of Enterprise Ventures, which he joined in 2004 and was head of technology investments at the time of its acquisition. He has over 20 years of venture capital experience, including the successful listings of companies such as Blue Prism Group plc and OptiBiotix Health plc. Through the subsequent sell down of its holding in Blue Prism, Mercia’s RisingStars Growth Fund realised c£95m, 105x the cost of its investment. Julian leads the equity investment team as well as managing the pipeline of Mercia’s direct investments.
Alongside his wide experience of investing across many sectors, Julian played a leading role in securing the managed funds contracts awarded by the British Business Bank and North East Fund Ltd and has been Mercia’s Chief Investment Officer since April 2018. Julian has a geology with chemistry degree from the University of Southampton and qualified as a chartered accountant with accountants Smith & Williamson. He is also responsible for investments in nDreams and Soccer Manager.