A business which is transforming healthcare through the use of digital technology has secured a £650,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

The funding will allow Advanced Digital Innovation (UK) Limited (ADI) to boost uptake of its flagship product, MyPathway. The system, which is already in use by a number of NHS trusts, seamlessly connects patients to their healthcare provider through a web browser or a mobile app.

MyPathway removes the need for appointment letters and calls and allows patients to negotiate care plans with clinicians. It provides digital triage, supports personalised rehabilitation programmes and allows clinicians to monitor patients’ progress and access patient-reported data and feedback.

ADI has been working with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for over two years, with North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for over a year and has recently won a further contract with NHS North East Essex CCG. The company has also carried out two successful clinical trials with the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. It is now looking to sign up other trusts across the UK. The investment will allow the company to build its sales and marketing team and further develop its product.

ADI, which is based in Saltaire in Yorkshire, was formed in 2012, initially operating as a consultancy delivering digital change projects to healthcare providers, and later developing its own software products. The CEO John Eaglesham has been with the company since inception and has overseen its transition and subsequent growth.

John Eaglesham, CEO, said: “At ADI, we are committed to bringing the digital revolution to the NHS and its patients. MyPathway provides both sides with the control and choice that we take for granted in other services. The NHS is undergoing a digital transformation and MyPathway is uniquely positioned to deliver this change in a cost-effective manner.”

Jonathan Sharp, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “MyPathway revolutionises the relationship between patients and healthcare providers, saving time and money and making the patient’s healthcare journey much easier to manage. The investment will allow ADI to drive sales growth and build awareness of the product in the healthcare market.”

Grant Peggie, Director 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 continuing to unlock the North’s growth potential by supporting small growing businesses with vital investment.”

Freeths provided legal advice to the company while Schofield Sweeney advised Mercia and the Fund.

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 Newcastle company which has developed a new health and safety software platform has secured a £500,000 investment from the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Fund Managers.

Notify Technology’s platform allows organisations of any size to manage worker health and safety. The software enables individuals to record accidents and near misses on a mobile device, and for their managers to track outcomes, actions and trends using real-time dashboard reporting. The funding will allow the company to step up its sales and marketing activities to attract new customers, and is expected to create significant jobs in the next five years.

Notify was founded in May 2017 by Duncan Davies, who was previously Director of IT services firm TSG, and Andy Dumbell, formerly CEO of award-winning technology company, ControlF1. They recognised that technology would make it easier to identify and predict risks and reduce the toll of workplace accidents.

Notify is already used by clients including Travis Perkins plc, Thyssenkrupp, Bournville Village Trust, Alexandra Palace and Pinewood Studios. It also provides a free near miss reporting app ‘NotifyIt’ which aims to help businesses worldwide to improve their health and safety culture, and which has already been downloaded in 58 countries around the globe.

Duncan Davies, the CEO of Notify Technology, said: “Notify aims to create a safety revolution. In most cases, incidents happen well beyond the reach of a desk-bound computer, and reporting risks is still a manual process. Notify makes risk reporting and identification simple and efficient. The data can then be used to identify where risks are highest so people and organisations can be better forewarned. This investment is crucial in allowing us to get our message out, within the UK and globally, and to push forward with our technology roadmap to help make workers safer and healthier wherever they are in the world.”

Jan Oosthuizen, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “Duncan and Andy have brought a fresh approach to the field of health and safety. Notify allows organisations to streamline their processes and create a cultural change in their approach to health and safety; making it easier to comply with new regulations which take a risk-based approach. Ultimately, it will help to reduce the enormous human and financial cost of accidents at work and to save lives.”

The NEVF can invest up to £1.0million for firms in Northumberland, Durham and Tyne & Wear, particularly those which are engaged in innovation or developing disruptive business models.
Funding is available to all companies with high growth potential and also pre-start enterprises.

Watch out America – BinaryBots, the Leeds-based robotics toy company, is ready to attack the US market thanks to a deal with one of the biggest distribution companies in the US.

The deal with Alliance Entertainment has led to BinaryBots’ products being listed on Walmart.com and they are due to be sold by more US retailers in the new year.

The build-your-own robots are designed to teach children how to code and come with sensors, lights and speakers. Children then use a BBC micro:bit to programme them to move, make sounds and even respond to touch.

BinaryBots were created by Chris Burgess who has received backing from NPIF-Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Chris, CEO of BinaryBots, said: “The US is the world’s biggest toy market and this deal has given us a direct route into it. We are proud to be working with Alliance Entertainment and showcasing British innovation in an international market. We want to be leading the charge on engineering and coding, and flying the flag for Yorkshire in this exciting sector.”

Chris said the US government’s move to expand teaching of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) had created greater demand for educational toys like BinaryBots and the robots had attracted a lot of attention at recent major US trade shows.

Graham Davies, Investment Director at Mercia Fund Managers added: “As parents look for fun ways to teach their children digital skills, smart toys are increasing in popularity. BinaryBots have been well received in the UK and, with the backing of our investment, they are now ready to take on America.”

National investment group Mercia Technologies PLC, one of the UK’s most active technology investors, is pleased to announce that its direct investment nDreams, the award-winning virtual reality (VR) developer and publisher, has set up a dedicated team to create VR games and experiences for the fast-growing location-based entertainment (LBE) market. The first two titles, Shooty Fruity Arcade and Perfect Balloon Flight, will hit arcades in the coming months.

Shooty Fruity Arcade sees the critically acclaimed home VR game tailored specifically for an over-the-top arcade experience, giving even more people the chance to prove their skills as a mutant fruit-shooting checkout assistant! nDreams has joined forces with the likes of Ctrl V, VR Junkies, SynthesisVR and SpringboardVR as key arcade partners, with the game launching this winter.

Developed in partnership with Starbreeze, Perfect Balloon Flight takes people on a virtual flight of a lifetime across idyllic environments. Following on from the bestselling Perfect VR experience for home headsets, Perfect Balloon Flight will be enhanced by a physical balloon basket and 4D effects in several arcades.

Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO of nDreams, said: “With VR arcade experiences growing in popularity, now is the perfect time to reveal what we have been working on for location-based entertainment. Whilst we continue to work hard on creating new titles for PC and console headsets, including our recently announced involvement with the Oculus Quest, LBE content has become a key vertical for us as we strengthen our position as a leading VR developer and publisher.”

Mike Hayes, Head of Digital & Digital Entertainment at Mercia, said: “We are delighted to support nDreams as it continues to make commercial progress with the release of these exciting new VR arcade experiences. The development of its key partnerships with some of the industry’s leading names, such as Oculus, bolsters its growing reputation in the VR market and will reinforce our ability to build significant shareholder value over the medium term.”

UK-based tech firm, Gorilla in the room, has appointed Martin Fincham, the former CEO of global enterprise software company LANSA Group, as its chairman ahead of the company’s next funding round.

Following a seed investment from Mercia Fund Managers in January 2018, the business has launched Discover, a market leading immersive research mobile product, and is now raising further capital to transition from a service-based business to a subscription model.

Gorilla in the room is an award-winning developer and supplier of immersive technology – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – to the market research industry. It licenses its innovative mobile technology to companies such as Ipsos (the fifth largest global research group) on research studies for Coca-Cola, O2, GlaxoSmithKline, ITV, Johnson & Johnson and P&O amongst others. The company’s reach currently spans the USA, France, Australia, India and Mexico with plans for further international growth.

Martin Fincham joins the board following a 30-year career in technology, sales, marketing and growth management. He founded a software company aged 24 and, after exit, worked in Silicon Valley for five years. Martin brings relevant management experience to Gorilla in the room as the company prepares for the next stage of its growth.

Gorilla in the room’s product, Discover, immerses people in a real world context to accurately predict their real purchase decisions. It transforms traditional research by scaling qualitative insight with quantitative data, as well as delivering consumer studies quicker and at a lower cost. The company aims to make immersive research indispensable in the market by 2021.

Martin said: “It’s hard to resist the invitation to join an early-stage business when you find a great team addressing a large target market with a validated customer value proposition. After two years of experimentation, Gorilla in the room has proven that immersive tech improves realism in consumer market research as well as driving engagement to unseen levels. Immersive tech is naturally cool and intriguing, but this is the first B2B application that I have seen where I can apply my particular skills, experience and global network.”

Jonathan Barrowman, founder and CEO of Gorilla in the room commented: “Martin’s knowledge of B2B sales, software and SaaS is the perfect fit for Gorilla in the room. His track record in growing companies internationally is very impressive so we’re thrilled to have Martin on our board as we champion immersive research technology in the industry.”

Chris Kilroy, Investment Manager at Mercia, said: “Martin brings a wealth of knowledge and commercial experience that will be invaluable for Gorilla in the room as it commences the next chapter of its journey. Martin will be a great asset to the team moving forward and Mercia is committed to supporting the company as it continues to revolutionise how market research is conducted across the globe.”

In-app ad-verification platform Pubguard has strengthened its leadership team with the appointment of the former president and chief operating officer of SYZYGY as its chairman.

Andy Stevens founded online media planning and buying agency Unique Digital in 2001, which he then sold to SYZYGY in 2010. Andy has a wealth of experience and has previously worked with a number of global blue chip clients, including Avis, Mazda and O2.

Following a £400,000 seed investment from Mercia Fund Managers in 2017, Pubguard has achieved positive growth and has successfully bolstered its team to support significant client wins, including some of the world’s largest publishers and app developers.

Global in-app ad spend is projected to hit $134.36billion in 2018 which represents 21.37% of total media ad spend, according to eMarketer. The biggest concern in the market is fraud and Pubguard has developed in-app technology that can automatically identify and eliminate the billions of ‘fake ads’ that manipulate vulnerable users every year.

Pubguard has built proprietary technology that automatically reviews in-app advertising to identify offensive, malicious and illegal ad content which can be blocked at its clients’ discretion. The company reviews seven billion ads per month using advanced image and code recognition technologies to solve problems such as fake ads, pop-ups and redirects.

Justin Wenczka, Pubguard’s co-founder and CEO, said: “Pubguard was set up by mobile industry natives to help app developers combat fake and fraudulent ads. Andy brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective, which is exactly what is needed to help manage such extraordinary growth.”

Commenting on his new role, Andy Stevens said: “With fantastic support from our investors, Pubguard is on an upward trajectory. I am delighted to be joining the team and to be part of such an exciting business in such a fast moving industry. We aim to not only help define and build the sector, but to be the leaders within it.”

Chris Kilroy, Investment Manager at Mercia, said: “We are delighted that Pubguard has brought Andy on board as chairman. Pubguard is on a mission to help app developers across the globe eradicate malicious advertising content and I am confident that Andy will be instrumental in supporting the company as it continues to scale.”

National investment group Mercia Technologies PLC is pleased to announce that its direct investment, VirtTrade, is partnering with Valiant Entertainment to create Valiant Heroes, a comprehensive digital collectible card game based on the comic book publisher’s characters and titles.

VirtTrade, a developer and publisher of digital trading cards, will create a series of collections focused on Valiant’s back catalogue of over 2,000 individual characters. The fun, social app will provide fans with a mix of original sketches, covers, panels and recreated pages, which includes mini-games and VirtTrade’s proprietary trade and collect functions.

The partnership with Valiant Entertainment is the third of a number of high-profile announcements made by VirtTrade as it continues to build out its portfolio.

As it does for all IP, VirtTrade will tailor its apps for Valiant fans to ensure they meet the expectations of the Valiant brand. In addition, VirtTrade will drive community engagement around the core product. Valiant Heroes is set for release on both iOS and Android by the end of 2018.

Ross Walker, Chief Commercial Officer of VirtTrade, said: “When I first came into the VirtTrade business, I anticipated comic heroes and mixed universes being central to our success, so I’m delighted we are now working with Valiant. Their archive is rich and deep and will reimagine how comic fans consume and engage with content that has previously only been available on the page.”

Mike Hayes, Head of Digital & Digital Entertainment at Mercia, said: “We are pleased to watch VirtTrade continue to grow and make commercial progress as it establishes an exciting new partnership with Valiant Entertainment, following its recent agreement with Formula 1. We are looking forward to seeing the business develop its digital collecting experience for Valiant’s comic universe as it continues to innovate in this space.”

Russell Brown, Valiant President of Consumer Products, Promotions and Ad Sales, said: “We see in VirtTrade the same enthusiasm we have for our own product and an opportunity to drive revenue and engagement in ways we’ve not been able to do before. Our team has been impressed by its innovative ideas and we will be jointly developing a few industry firsts specifically for our loyal Valiant fans.”

Mercia Technologies PLC is pleased to announce that nDreams Limited (nDreams) has won a multi-million dollar contract with one of the world’s foremost virtual reality (VR) technology companies.

This new contract for nDreams, a leading European developer and publisher focused on VR gaming and experiences content, represents the company’s most significant contract win to date.

Mercia, which holds a 45.6% direct equity stake in nDreams, initially financed nDreams’ pivot from developing content for PlayStation Home Virtual Worlds to successfully becoming a specialist in virtual reality content provision. Following early support from Mercia’s managed funds, Mercia made its first direct investment into nDreams in December 2014. Since then nDreams has been working with the leading global names in the VR industry including Sony PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Google and Microsoft.

Dr Mark Payton, Chief Executive Officer of Mercia Technologies PLC, said: “This contract is not only highly significant for nDreams, as it reinforces the substantial potential value of this exciting VR business, but it is also a reflection of the wider inherent value held in the Mercia direct investment portfolio.

Today’s announcement, which follows the recent Oxford Genetics announcement, is the second multi-million pound contract which Mercia’s two largest direct investments by value have recently secured and taken together, demonstrate the tangible commercial progress which the portfolio is making. We expect to announce further positive news from our direct investment portfolio in due course.”

The full RNS announcement can be found here.

Soccer Manager – the Lancashire-based games studio backed by Mercia Technologies PLC – has launched its first game in China.

Live Super CSO is now available for download on a range of Chinese app stores and is due to be released in countries throughout Asia, and in Russia. The launch comes a year after Soccer Manager signed a multi-million pound deal with Crazy Sports, the Beijing games publisher which is the official partner of the Chinese Super League.

Live Super CSO is the first of two games agreed under the deal, which is estimated by the Department of Industry and Trade to be worth up to £55.0million over five years. Since then the Chinese firm has requested two more.

The new game is based on Soccer Manager’s existing Arena game and has taken 12 months to adapt and launch into the Chinese market. Andrew Gore, CEO, explained: “As well as translations and amends to the design, we have had to adapt the game to suit the way people play and pay in China.

“Unlike in the West where a number of big players dominate the market, in China there are hundreds of app stores. Crazy Sports decided to work on 19 of them, so we have had to create multiple interfaces. The Chinese market is also more regulated and it can take months to get the right licences and approvals.”

Founded in 2004 by Andrew, his brothers Steven and Chris and their friend Peter Adams, Soccer Manager now has over 20 million registrations worldwide, with around 700,000 active players and 15,000 new accounts created every month. Crazy Sports is part of the V1 group, one of China’s largest internet companies whose own sports platform has over 100 million users. Andrew added: “Although we already have players worldwide, the Chinese market is very difficult to penetrate. Crazy Sports has a very strong foothold in the market. This is a huge opportunity for Soccer Manager and one that will eventually allow us to reach games fans throughout the whole of Asia.”

Soccer Manager, which now employs 29 people in Preston, received initial support from Mercia in 2013 in the form of a £100,000 loan from Rosebud Finance, which is managed by Mercia on behalf of Lancashire County Council. Since then Mercia has invested a total of £2.0million. Mike Hayes, the former CEO of SEGA games for Europe and America who is now Head of Digital and Digital Entertainment at Mercia, said: “With over 600 million players, China has now overtaken the US as the games capital of the globe. Having worked with Soccer Manager and supported their growth for the past five years, it is great to see them take the first steps into the world’s biggest games market.”

Two entrepreneurs who are creating a new marketplace for online gamers have secured a £200,000 investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

The funding will allow Alex Booth and Nick Gillett to bring their idea to market. Player Lands, which will be based in Nottingham, will allow gamers with no previous experience of e-commerce to open online stores and sell the content they create or find while playing. The system will tap into the growing global market for in-game downloads and aims to become the leading e-commerce platform of its type.

Alex, a serial entrepreneur who also has a yacht and private jet hire business, came up with the idea after working as a consultant in the gaming industry. He joined forces with Nick, an angel investor and founder of London-based digital agency C360 which he sold in 2006. They set up Transaction Technologies in 2016 to pursue the idea.

Player Lands will offer customers a secure and straightforward way to buy content for their favourite games. It will give shopkeepers their own customisable store, together with tools to manage inventory, market their products and run promotions, while also providing detailed reporting to help them increase sales. The platform will be secure, easy-to-use and provide a safe environment for children as well as more seasoned players. It will use blockchain technology to create a completely transparent public ledger for each item traded.

Alex Booth, CEO of Transaction Technologies, said:

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be involved with the games industry, which despite its enormous size is still growing fast. We want to give gamers the opportunity to capitalise on their hard work in-game, letting them trade the items they’ve found or won for real cash. The investment from Mercia is going to help us bring the idea to market quickly and with the technical excellence this market demands.”

Dr Sandy Reid, Investment Manager with Mercia Fund Managers, said:

“The worldwide market for downloadable in-game content is growing rapidly and already dwarfs the income from pay-to-play games. However, it is served by mostly low-level e-commerce providers and content creators are struggling to find platforms that offer the professionalism and service that they need. The funding will enable Alex and Nick to put their idea into practice and fill this gap in the market. We feel there is a real opportunity for Player Lands to become the leading platform of its type in the coming years.”

Lewis Stringer, MEIF Senior Relationship Manager at the British Business Bank, commented:

“The innovative nature of Transaction Technologies is testament to the thriving creative and digital content sector across the Midlands. It’s great to see finance from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund being deployed in such exciting, early-stage technologies, and we look forward to Alex and Nick making a success of this forward-thinking concept.”

Lindsay Wetton, Senior Programme Manager for Business Engagement at the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Creative and digital businesses, such as Transaction Technologies, form an integral part of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire economy. With help from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and its Growth Hub is working to ensure that businesses across its area are given the support that they need to grow, succeed and flourish.”

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.