NPIF Equity

Virtual demo platform used by big biotech firms raises £1m

A company whose software enables equipment manufacturers to give virtual demonstrations of their products to potential buyers worldwide has raised £1m from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Envoke’s virtual demo platform is used by some of the world’s biggest biotech equipment manufacturers and removes the need for them to ship out equipment and send sales staff to visit buyers in distant locations.

The funding will allow the Leeds-based business to further develop the platform and take part in more international trade exhibitions to boost its sales worldwide. The company, which currently employs 16 people, expects to create a further ten jobs in the year ahead.

Envoke was developed by Stuart Warrington and sprang out of his film and animation business, Superla, which he founded in 2012 to produce corporate videos for customers such as Santander and Barclays. The platform was developed in 2019 for Thermo Fisher Scientific, a US-based multinational which makes analytical equipment such as PCR and blood testing machines and was seeking a better way to showcase its products to remote customers.

Envoke, which incorporates gaming technology, is now used by other leading global manufacturers including Bio-Rad, 10X Genomics, Roche and Illumina. Following the funding, the company is also planning to create a new after-sales module to enable manufacturers to provide ongoing customer support.

Stuart is now CEO of Envoke while the original business, Superla, is run by his wife Lucie Warrington. Stuart says: “Customers buying medical equipment will of course want to trial it first, but shipping costs can be £5,000 to £30,000 or more, not to mention the cost of sending out sales staff to demonstrate it. Sometimes equipment is damaged in transit and not every demo results in a sale.

“Our platform creates a virtual version of the product that enables manufacturers to save huge sums and reduce their carbon footprint. The funding will enable us to extend its functionality to cover after-sales support and allow us to make further inroads into the US market, where the leading biotech companies are based.”

Will Clark of Mercia added: “Companies are increasingly moving to online sales, however video conferencing alone is not sufficient for product demos. Thanks to their background in games development, Stuart and the team have created a powerful platform that in our view is the most advanced of its type on the market. Envoke is already used by five of the world’s biggest biotech companies and this investment will help the company to reach a much wider audience.”

Keira Shepperson at British Business Bank said: “The utilization of technology in the manufacturing industry is an area of continuous growth and it is great that Envoke is leading the way in creating new solutions that help global manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint and make savings during a time of high costs in the industry. Not only will this funding allow Envoke to grow in the Yorkshire region, but will help it grow beyond the UK as well.”

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.