An award-winning Hull-based video advertising start-up has secured funding from NPIF – Enterprise Ventures Equity Finance.

Ash TV, a Tech North Northern Star 2016 award winner, will use the investment to hire additional staff to support its ambitious growth plans. It is the first investment in Humber by NPIF – Enterprise Ventures Equity Finance.

The company was founded in 2014 by Ash Lewis, who has a background in programming and over 10 years’ experience working in online advertising for some of the UK’s largest consumer brands including Argos, Homebase and Boohoo.com.

Ash TV has developed a novel in-browser, video advertising platform for mobile devices. The technology is supported by artificial intelligence (AI) software to target advertisements using location and social media data. It provides real-time feedback to clients on the effectiveness and targeting of their advertising campaigns.

The company claims that five people watch one of its mobile video adverts every second in the UK.

Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager at Enterprise Ventures, part of Mercia Technologies PLC, said:

“We are delighted to have completed our first equity investment in the Hull region with Ash TV. Mobile internet advertising is continuing to grow globally as companies spent over £10bn in the UK alone last year. Ash TV is well-positioned to meet this demand and this investment will allow the business to further strengthen its team and add to its already impressive client base.”

CEO of Ash TV, Ash Lewis, said:

Working with Enterprise Ventures and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund brings a great opportunity for our business and after recently expanding into mainland Europe, we’re focusing hard on recruiting more talented individuals in our region. This investment allows us to continue to rapidly expand as we take on new clients and media partners.

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at British Business Bank, said:

“We are delighted that this deal marks NPIF’s first equity investment in the Yorkshire & the Humber region and we look forward to seeing Ash TV develop with support from Enterprise Ventures. We have been very encouraged by the response from the regional business community and our fund managers since NPIF launched earlier this year. The appetite for investment in the Humber region has been strong, and the support offered to these businesses from our fund managers has been outstanding.”

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.

Mercia Technologies PLC has announced that it has completed a £2.0million follow-on investment into nDreams, one of the UK’s largest independent developers and publishers focused on virtual reality (VR) gaming and experiences content.

Mercia’s investment into nDreams, which is part of a £2.7million funding round alongside sophisticated private investors and the recently appointed chair, increases the Group’s total amount of capital invested to £7.1million and results in a 45.6% equity shareholding.

To read the full RNS announcement, click here.

A Birmingham-based developer of game-inspired software for businesses has strengthened its leadership team with the appointment of a new Non-Executive Chairman.

Technology entrepreneur Karl Drage will support the senior management team at Stormburst Studios as the company continues to scale.

Karl will provide key commercial and sales expertise, and support with the development and execution of the company’s strategic plan.

Karl is currently CEO of Smart Renewable Heat and has recently enjoyed Non-Executive Director roles with BA Hydro Solutions and DIWAH Jewellery. He has over 25 years of experience in business leadership and the technology sector.

The business has also made strong commercial progress having brought on-board Sheridan Maine Ltd as a paying customer for Stormburst product, One Up Sales.

Stormburst secured £150,000 of seed funding from early-stage technology investor Mercia Fund Management in January 2017 and has since focused on product development, building customer relationships and bolstering their core team.

Jamie Rodden, Managing Director of Sheridan Maine, said:

“One Up Sales has proven to be a fantastic tool to both monitor and motivate our team. Comparing the same period last year without One Up Sales, I am left in no doubt that the product has had a positive impact on our performance.”

The start-up was founded in 2014 by CEO Derry Holt and CTO James Heath, graduates from Leicester’s De Montfort University who both have development experience in the games industry.

Commenting on his new role, Karl Drage said:

“The potential for gamification techniques to increase employee engagement and team collaboration is extremely significant. Presenting real time business systems data analytics and enabling employees to “keep score” in a meaningful and motivational manner is exciting and compelling. Derry and James have assembled an impressive team, and I am enthused by the prospect of joining them.”

Chris Kilroy, Investment Associate at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“We are delighted that Stormburst Studios has appointed Karl to help drive forward the company. Serious gaming and gamification is a key focus area for Mercia and with Karl’s impressive strategic experience and expertise, he will be a great asset to the team as they continue to thrive in this growing sector.”

A Midlands-based digital logistics platform that bridges the gap between publishers and resellers of video game content, plans to scale up after receiving a growth investment boost of £400,000 from early-stage technology investor, Mercia Fund Management.

Since Mercia’s last investment in August 2016, GENBA Digital Limited has continued to make commercial progress and developed partnerships with high-profile AAA publishers and well known digital e-tailers on a global basis.

GENBA, a digital supply chain services business, focuses on delivering a comprehensive suite of services and tools to enable the secure delivery of digital content and codes in the video games market.

New development features have also been added to the main platform, including further automation, key stock management, real-time reporting and analytics.

With this latest funding, GENBA intends to hire nine new employees to support with the operational and financial functions of the company, as well as the strategic development of the platform and its services.

GENBA’s current team has just moved to new offices in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, to make space for its expanding team.

The business was founded by Claire Ralley and Murray Rigluth, who are both veterans of the UK gaming industry with experience spanning licensing, partnerships, systems design and security.

CEO and co-founder of GENBA Claire Ralley said:

“We are delighted to have completed a further round of funding with Mercia Fund Management, it’s great to find an investor who shares the strategic vision of GENBA and is willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. We have seen unparalleled year on year growth and are determined to push even harder in the evolution of our journey.”

Mike Hayes, Investment Director and Head of Digital Entertainment at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“GENBA represents a strong investment opportunity for Mercia and we are looking forward to supporting the company as we continue to diversify our Digital & Digital Entertainment investment portfolio. We remain highly confident in both Claire and Murray as well as the significant market opportunity that the company is addressing.”

Bloody Zombies is a one-to-four player co-op brawler designed to be played with any combination of TV and VR players, online or on the couch. Set in a London wasteland, bloody zombies (pun intended) run amok and four rough-and-tough cockney misfits must work together to beat back the rotting hordes.

With easily accessible moves, yet with deep freeform combat and brutal chainable combos, players can unlock special moves and discover melee weapons to expand their zombie-slaying abilities. The VR players enhanced viewpoint means you can also find in-game secrets, provide tactical support, and conquer obstacles using a unique diorama view.

Founded in 2006 by former Eidos Creative Director Patrick O’Luanaigh, Mercia first invested in nDreams in March 2014 through its managed funds.

David Corless, VP of Publishing, nDreams said: “Bloody Zombies transforms the classic co-op brawler into an original experience. Players team up to battle the undead in the streets of London, regardless of whether if they are playing in VR with its unique viewpoint or on console or PC.”

Antony White, Co-Founder and Director at Paw Print Games, said: “Bloody Zombies combines irreverent British humor, exaggerated characterisation with an approach to over-the-top urban violence to create a new style of brawler. Team play is definitely key, but you’ll also need to beat your friends to compete for the highest score.”

Catch a first glimpse of the experience in the trailer here.

PubGuard, a mobile-first digital ad verification and malware detection tool for publishers, is set for growth following investment from Mercia Fund Management.

Founded in 2015, PubGuard has quickly established itself as a leading solution for the largest global digital publishers, helping them to improve ad quality and user experience.

With Mercia’s investment, PubGuard aims to continue growing its client base while expanding into the US to provide greater support for its clients across the Atlantic.

The company was founded by a team of digital advertising experts with decades of experience across all aspects of the digital media industry. PubGuard are committed to expanding their team with the brightest and best talent in the mobile and desktop ad-tech industry.

CEO and founder of PubGuard Justin Wenczka said:

“We founded PubGuard after seeing an opportunity to make ads better for users and publishers. In response, we built an integration free solution to identify offensive content and ineffective ads so in-app and desktop publishers can easily maintain their ad standards.

“The rise of adblocking is a sign of a disconnect between user expectations and the reality of advertising today. We have seen that improving ad quality increases user engagement.”

Chris Kilroy, Investment Associate at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“PubGuard has developed a highly effective and unique product that helps solve one of the advertising industry’s biggest problems. The founders have strong domain expertise combined with a deep understanding of the industry and we are incredibly confident in their ability to build a highly valuable company over the years to come.”

A Birmingham-based start-up which develops game-inspired software for business use is set for growth following a £150,000 seed investment by Mercia Fund Management.

Stormburst Studios was founded by Derry Holt and James Heath, two former students from Leicester’s De Montfort University who have also worked as developers within the video games industry.

Their first product, OneUp, allows sales teams to pit themselves against each other in a fantasy sports competition. By using gaming concepts such as leaderboards and dashboards to replace spreadsheets, OneUp offers a revolutionary approach to sales management, helping to motivate and engage employees while allowing managers to gain detailed performance insights.

The company will use the investment to further develop the OneUp platform, fund key hires across marketing and business development and build relationships with clients across a range of sectors including recruitment, insurance and telesales. Stormburst Studios is one of only a handful of companies that are focused on developing game-inspired software in the UK, and the company is confident it can become a market leader.

Derry Holt, CEO and Co-Founder of Stormburst Studios, said:

“It’s fantastic that Mercia have seen the value in what we’re building here at Stormburst Studios. For a long time we’ve spoken about the void between the video games industry and conventional business software – and our belief in there being a happy middle ground that benefits all parties.

“The future is looking incredibly bright for the company and we can’t wait to see how far we can take Stormburst Studios with Mercia’s support.”

Chris Kilroy, Investment Associate at Mercia, said:

“Gamification has the potential to offer considerable benefits across a wide range of business sectors, and our advisory board of independent digital experts have identified it as one of the potential ‘breakthrough’ technologies for the years ahead.

“Founders Derry and James have a unique mix of sector expertise and business acumen. They have both the drive and skills necessary to build a highly valuable and successful company and we look forward to supporting the team as they continue to scale over the coming months.”

Mercia Technologies PLC has made a follow-on investment of £1.0million into nDreams, one of the UK’s largest independent developer and publisher solely focused on virtual reality (VR) gaming and experiences content.

Mercia’s investment is part of a £2.0million funding round alongside a group of angel investors. The pricing of this funding round endorses Mercia’s recent Half Year Results fair value assessment of its holding in nDreams. Since IPO, Mercia has invested £5.1million in nDreams and the Group now holds 41.0% of nDream’s total issued share capital.

To read the full RNS announcement, click here.

Mercia Fund Management Ltd (Mercia) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Paul Mattick as Head of Funds & Investor Relations.

Paul, who will report to Mercia’s Executive Director, Jonathan Diggines, will lead Mercia’s fund raising team and oversee the performance of the tax-efficient funds. He will also manage Mercia’s investor relations, working with both private investors and the growing network of advisers.

Paul has a wealth of experience in investor relations, having formerly worked as Private Client Manager at Oxford Capital.

Paul has a Ph.D and Post-Doctorate from the University of Oxford and a 1st Class Bachelor of Science for the University of Leeds. He is ACSI, SPS and CF30 qualified and a former Olympian and World Champion Athlete.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Paul Mattick said:

“For a number of years I have been watching the impressive development of Mercia’s innovative business model, which is supported by some of the UK’s leading mutual funds. Mercia finds value by investing at seed stage, after which specialist Investment Directors help to scale these businesses to find Mercia’s ‘Emerging Stars’.

“This US-style Venture Capital model has led to an industry-leading performance of our tax-efficient funds, and this is especially exciting when combined with the Virtual Share Exchange, through which investors may be able to sell part of their fund before a full exit. The EIS/SEIS tax reliefs are substantial, and we regard them as very important, but they are just the icing on the (investment) cake.”

To coincide with Paul’s appointment, Mercia is launching its latest EIS/SEIS fund, Mercia Growth Fund 6 (MGF6), which will invest in early stage technology businesses. This fund will form part of the innovative ‘Complete Capital Solution’, which can meet a company’s funding requirements from seed through to a potential exit.

Mercia’s low fee tax-efficient funds have an average performance of 38% IRR (on NAV) excluding tax benefits, and an option for early liquidity in some cases. (Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and there is no guarantee of early liquidity).

For more details, please download our Information Memorandum http://www.merciafund.co.uk/investors/open-funds/, or speak to one of the Mercia team. Our investment application is available upon request.

Mercia Technologies PLC (Mercia), one of the UK’s leading investors in the digital entertainment sector, has appointed three senior figures from the industry to its newly created Digital & Digital Entertainment Advisory Board.

Nick Parker, Matt Woodley and Rob Precious have over 70 years’ experience between them in the gaming industry. Their appointment further strengthens the expertise within Mercia’s Digital & Digital Entertainment investment team, which is led by the former CEO of SEGA Europe and America, Mike Hayes.

Nick Parker is one of the gaming industry’s foremost analysts advising large corporates, banks and investors. A former Vice President of Sony’s European games business, he has since helped launch Atari’s GameNation portal and subsequently founded GameVision, the gaming industry’s standard in consumer intelligence. Nick now advises a range of companies, from the BBC and Vodafone through to British Telecom and Sky PLC.

Matt Woodley has held creative and marketing roles at some of the most established companies in the industry, including SEGA, Atari and EA. Matt is now a partner with Tenshi Partners, a team of experienced entrepreneurs who advise corporates on strategy and provide mentoring for start-ups.

Rob Precious has held senior sales and business development roles with Criterion (sold to Electronic Arts in 2005), IGA Worldwide and Geomerics, where he developed the company from pre-revenue through to acquisition by ARM PLC in 2013. Rob now mentors start-ups including Mantle Technologies, a 2015 Diamond Award winner at MassChallenge London. He is also an investor himself, backing firms such as Mantle Technologies and PlayCanvas.

The Advisory Board will meet quarterly to discuss industry trends, identify potential growth areas within the sector and help shape Mercia’s investment strategy. Companies within Mercia’s Digital & Digital Entertainment portfolio include: nDreams, a developer and publisher of virtual reality games and experiences; VirtTrade, a digital trading card platform provider; Soccer Manager, a free-to-play online football management game; and Edge Case Games, a development studio currently working on Fractured Space, a space battle game.

Mike Hayes, Investment Director and Head of Digital & Digital Entertainment at Mercia, said:

“Nick, Matt and Rob all bring with them a wealth of knowledge and insights as well as an extensive network of contacts to build on our existing expertise and industry connections within the sector.

“The creation of the Advisory Board comes at an exciting time for the games industry. Not only are new techniques like VR helping to create more realistic experience for games players, but gamification also offers the opportunity to transform business models and improve outcomes in a wide range of other sectors, from healthcare to financial services.”