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DIGIT Deal Roundup | December 2022
DIGIT Deal Roundup | December 2022 David Paul 10 January 2023, 06.00am The December 2022 edition of the DIGIT Deal Roundup sees investment, funding, acquisitions, and deals from businesses across Scotland. Funding and Investment Microplate Dx Limited University of Strathclyde spinout medtech, Microplate Dx Limited , secured seed funding to scale-up development of its diagnostic test. The Microplate Dx team has completed an initial seed funding round of more than half a million pounds, led by Deepbridge Capital LLP, and equity investment from the University of Strathclyde’s Strathclyde Inspire Entrepreneurs Fund (SIEF). Funding and support has been supplemented by the Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Award, Scottish Enterprise, as well as competition winnings from Scottish EDGE, the Converge Challenge and CPI (Centre for Process Innovation). Dr Stuart Hannah, Microplate Dx CEO, said: “Rapid diagnosis of the appropriate antibiotic treatment avoids lengthy delays in antibiotic prescribing, meaning patients suffering a life-threatening infection can be treated straightaway when the infection first presents, and start to recover much more quickly than with conventional methods. “We call this ‘personal prescribing’, and for serious infections early intervention can save lives. This hard-won funding will enable the team to scale up development of their UTI system, accelerating timelines towards regulatory approval, clinical deployment and eventual sales. “As a Strathclyde spin-out, we are especially proud to be among the first recipients of the Stephen Young entrepreneurship award.” Willo Asynchronous video interview platform Willo has raised more than £1.5m to drive further expansion in the United States. The Scottish company has announced plans to significantly scale up its US presence after raising the funds from 1818 Venture Capital. The US market already accounts for more than 65% of Willo’s revenues, with the firm working with stateside clients including Coinbase, Chick-fil-A, and Sureify. Willo currently operates in more than 180 countries worldwide. Key investors in the latest round – which takes the total investment in UK-based Willo since it was founded in 2018 to more than £2.5m – include former Mimecast GM Alan Kenny; finance expert Julien Nurse; and Freeserve pioneer Mark Danby. Willo CEO Euan Cameron said: “The way the US market has embraced Willo’s technology has been astounding, and this latest investment will enable us to meet the booming demand for async hiring tools among businesses and organisations of all sizes. “We built Willo so it can operate from anywhere in the world, and we have enjoyed tremendous success to date, but establishing a base in New York City will enable us to be even more agile in supporting existing clients and bringing new ones on board. “Whilst the US is our biggest market at present, the rest of the world is catching up, there is rising demand around the world as the async message spreads, and by more than doubling our headcount we will be able to service it too.” Green Bioactives (GBL) has announced that it has successfully completed a £2.6m seed funding round. The funding will enable GBL to grow its management, production, and research team capabilities, allowing the company to demonstrate its biomanufacturing approach at a larger scale. The funding round was led by Eos Advisory LLP and included investments from London-based Regenerate Ventures’ Agtech Fund, London and Singapore co-headquartered Milltrust International Group, and Scottish Enterprise, which also provided the company with advisory support. David McElroy, CEO of GBL said: “This £2.6m seed funding is an incredibly exciting milestone for Green Bioactives, and we’re delighted to have attracted such a strong international investor base – demonstrating the global commercial potential of our plant cell culture-based biomanufacturing platform.” Now, GBL can continue its sustainable biomanufacturing across different industries with a more substantial in-house team. The funds will also be used to pursue new sector-specific commercial partnerships to increase marketing efforts and product sales as well as securing IP and Freedom to Operate on both the company’s core biomanufacturing process components and its product-specific plant cell lines. “The investment comes at a key time for the company,” McElroy added, “as we prepare for further growth and continue to develop our technology, working towards our goal of becoming the world’s leading supplier of safe, natural and sustainably-sourced plant-derived products.” OneBanx OneBanx closed its £1.25m fund raise on Crowdcube in December, having raised £1.28m, comfortably more than its target. Having rolled out its shared branch concept with three pilots in Central Scotland, the OneBanx team is now embarking on the next phase of its plans to create a national network of kiosks. As part of the crowdfunding exercise, OneBanx has already raised more than £1m in pre-funding towards its target of £1.25m with a pre-money valuation of £12.5m. The shares offered were equivalent to 9.04% of the company at a price of £15.06. Duncan Cockburn, founder, and CEO of OneBanx said: “With over 5000 bank branches having closed in the UK since 2015, the need for what OneBanx can offer communities is greater than ever. “We have had amazing support from our existing shareholders, but as a business rooted in serving communities, we wanted to extend our shareholder base to include more communities and partners with a real stake in our business as we expand and grow. “The warm reception we have received over the past few weeks is both encouraging and exciting. Now that there are 10 high street banks committed to funding shared infrastructure and thousands of kiosks or similar needed across the UK, there is a real opportunity here to make a difference for customers.” Dunedin IT Dunedin IT returned its highest ever turnover of £2.1m in its latest financial year end results, with 40% growth in revenue over the past three years. The company was able to attract several new clients over the past 12 months, after making significant investments in staff and technology that enhanced its service offering, including a new workflow management platform, and several new positions across the UK. “We are delighted to have achieved these latest results in difficult trading circumstances over the last year,” Dunedin IT Director Jamie Clague said. “Challenges with the cost and availability of hardware, alongside a turbulent period to recruit talent in Information Technology, have ensured we’ve had to work harder and smarter than ever to succeed. Our team is now spread across the UK, giving us greater reach than ever before and the ability to cover the entire country.” Heriot-Watt University A scientist at Heriot-Watt University has been awarded £2.5m to lead a study into the potential of quantum communications. Funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the programme aims to identify global research visionaries and provide them with long-term support. Professor Mehul Malik is leading a project aimed at exploring the mysterious properties of quantum entanglement. The pioneering study hopes to develop new network technologies capable of delivering the most secure form of communication. He explained: “My research aims to harness these high-dimensional properties of light to maximise the information capacity of a quantum network and simultaneously enable it to operate in a noisy, real-world environment. “With support from project partners BT Group and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, my 10-year research programme is poised to take fundamental advances developed in my lab and translate them to technologies that will have a direct impact on our modern society.” Professor Malik added: “The sustained 10-year support provided by the Academy is an esteemed endorsement of my research programme on quantum technology. “To be recognised in this way is a privilege but also underlines the enormous potential of the technology I am developing to benefit our society in the near future. “We have made tremendous strides in fundamental quantum science in recent years, and I am particularly excited about the opportunities offered by the Royal Academy of Engineering to help us translate this work into disruptive applications.” CCL Logistics & Technology CCL Logistics & Technology announced it was on track for record revenue in the current financial year and expects to complete two acquisitions in 2023. The Troon-based company forecast approximately 20% revenue growth as sales were set to hit around £35m in the year to 31st December 2022, up from £29.5m last year. CCL Logistics & Technology CEO Callum Bastock said: “While the company was founded as a one-stop logistics company, we are now a fully-fledged logistics and technology group that specialises in helping customers reduce costs and grow, sustainably. “The challenges faced by the sea freight industry meant our customers had less visibility, higher costs, and severe supply chain disruption. “We are now able to help our customers track shipments and stock keeping units (SKU’s) in real time, something that just wasn’t available previously.” CCL is currently investing around £2.5m every year into its technology platform and has over 40 people working in its Innovation Centre in Bellshill. Bastock added: “We work with hundreds of customers, who use CCL because we are a one-stop logistics provider that can help them save time, reduce costs, and improve business efficiency. “By offering complete supply chain visibility, we have a product that is second to none in our target market, and we plan to continue our investment in our Transport Management System for years to come.” Current Health The University of Dundee‘s McGhee Award is receiving a new pledge of funding from Current Health CEO Christopher McCann and his partner Dr Jo-Ann Nugent. The couple have pledged £25,000 to support the University’s award that recognises and supports business concepts with impact, global growth, and scalability ambitions. McCann is an alumnus of Dundee’s Medical school, who developed his own business idea while studying and was inspired to support others with entrepreneurial ambitions. “Today, Current Health is a market leader in the US and UK. Along the way, so many great founders helped me, and it is now my turn to help new founders as they build companies and solve real problems, benefiting our economy and our society,” McCann said. Brian McNicoll, Head of Dundee’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, said: “Our annual Venture competition is one of the most important ways in which we support our students and staff in fulfilling their entrepreneurial ambitions and once again we look forward to examining a host of quality submissions.” The UK Government has announced £73m in new funding for the development of clean transport technologies. Joint government and industry investment will support projects across the UK in support of ambitions to build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs). The five successful projects are set to support 3,300 jobs, working on new ways to utilise renewable fuels, electric motors that are both powerful and highly efficient, and new materials to reduce the auto industry’s carbon footprint. Glasgow-based hydrogen vehicle startup HVS is one of the joint winners, receiving £30m to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered HGV cab and tractor unit to replace the highly polluting diesel-powered vehicles currently used to transport road freight. Business Secretary Grant Shapps commented: “Our automotive industry is a world-leader, creating jobs whether in Essex, Somerset or Glasgow. Seizing the potential from new technologies will be a key part of its future success, while also making our roads cleaner, greener and more affordable. “Today’s multi-million-pound boost – created by government working hand-in-hand with industry – will put these firms in pole position to pioneer these innovations, staying at the cutting edge of the global race for decades to come.” ShotScope Shot Scope has raised £2.7m in a series A funding round headed by Guinness Ventures which invested £2.1m. The round also includes investment from the Scottish Investment Bank, Old College Capital – the in-house venture capital arm of the University of Edinburgh – and Edinburgh based angel fund Equity Gap. Shot Scope were advised by PWC. David Hunter, CEO, Shot Scope said: “Six years ago as a keen amateur golfer I realised that technology could enable players to make better decisions on the course. Since then, Shot Scope has grown from a start-up to an established market leader in GPS, laser rangefinder and digital on course tracking. I am delighted that Guinness Ventures has partnered with Shot Scope. “As market leader in the UK, our team wants to scale up global expansion so golfers around the world can experience the game-improving benefits of Shot Scope. The investment and partnership with Guinness Ventures will allow our team to focus on this growth and deliver our technology to golfers globally.” Adam Barker, Deal Lead, Guinness Ventures said: “We were impressed by the management team and board’s depth and breadth of experience as well as their passion for golf. They’ve a proven track record for delivering both technology products and fast growth companies.” “The Shot Scope team’s deep understanding of golfers and the golf market has resulted in some incredible products. We love the amazing range of great golf tech and are excited to be on the inside with a preview to the roadmap of products, software and features, that we can’t wait to see launched and change the game.” Revive ECO Revive Eco has secured a £375,000 investment led by Gabriel Investment Syndicate to commercialise a patent-pending process to recycle coffee grounds into a sustainable palm oil alternative. The investment round, in which Scottish Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde also participated, will support the company as it looks to grow its team, including by adding engineering expertise, and scale up its manufacturing capability. Fergus Moore, Co-founder, Revive Eco, said: “With the support of our investors, we can progress our mission to make coffee the most sustainable commodity on the planet, and move our production from the lab to industrial scale.” Revive Eco is set to begin trials with a number of big brands in the UK and across Europe and hopes to announce a series of partnerships and contract wins during 2023. Fergus Moore added: “With the rise of ESG, corporations and manufacturers are under increasing pressure to find alternatives to palm oil, so the moment for us to help bring about change is here and now.” Chromacity Ultrafast laser manufacturer Chromacity announced an injection of new funding and appointment of two new Board directors as the company seeks to expand further into industrial markets. The new investment was provided by existing investors and led by EOS, Kelvin Capital and Scottish Enterprise, and will be used to invest in key infrastructure needed to support Chromacity’s continued progress into industrial markets. Shahida Imani, CEO of Chromacity, said: “We’re continuing to build on our global reputation for providing high quality lasers for research in life sciences, but this funding will also support growth opportunities in industrial markets including semiconductor testing, defence and environmental sensing.” Robert Black joins the company as non-executive chairman, while Richard Laming is also joining the firm’s board. Archangels Archangels invested £13.4m during 2022 in some of Scotland’s most promising early-stage tech and life science companies. The total investment for 2022 among 11 businesses marks a 14% increase on Archangels’ investment activity in 2021 (11.8m). New additions to the portfolio included tech firm Earth Blox who secured £1.5m funding from Archangels to expand its global reach and further develop its no-code Earth Observation (EO) cloud-based SaaS. Other businesses to receive follow-on funding included Integrated Graphene, Cytomos, Hearing Diagnostics, Administrate and BioCaptiva. Co-investors on deals totalling £27.0m during 2022 included Scottish Enterprise, Par Equity, Mercia and various Scottish angel syndicates. Archangels also generated a significant gain on the sale of portfolio company Optoscribe during the year. David Ovens, Joint Managing Director at Archangels, said: “2022 has been a big year for Archangels and our members. Thirty years of investing in and supporting Scotland’s life science and technology sectors is a milestone of which we’re all very proud. “Despite ongoing volatility in the economy, we have continued to see strong demand for funding from innovative early-stage businesses with the ambition to grow and scale. “While the economic outlook remains challenging for 2023, we are confident that we’ll continue to find opportunities for our members to back exciting and innovative young companies.” Snappy Shopper Home delivery marketplace Snappy Shopper raised a seven-figure sum from existing investors; Highland Technology, Kelvin Capital and Scottish Enterprise, to fuel growth ambitions. The investment round, which was led by major investor Highland Technology, will be used to continue to invest in the company’s growth and core technology platform in pursuit of Snappy Shopper’s mission to enable local retailers to serve customers online with a local home delivery service. The business intends to capitalise on the slowdown of the dark store operating model and capture consumer demand by enabling existing local convenience stores to offer a profitable quick commerce service using the platform’s leading technology. Mike Callachan, CEO at Snappy Shopper, says: “This round of investment signals the next chapter for Snappy Shopper. Following another record-breaking year, we have continued to onboard new stores at pace and deliver record numbers of orders. Our capital light model uniquely places us to grow in a challenging business environment as consumers continue to value convenience and local businesses. “We are excited about the path ahead and grateful to have such supportive investors with us on the journey.” North Star North Star has secured a £140m financing package to support its offshore wind growth plan. The investment includes a £50m commitment from the Scottish National Investment Bank (The Bank), as well as IFM Investors, Edmond de Rothschild’s BRIDGE, and RBC Capital Markets. Jimmy Williamson, Scottish National Investment Bank executive director said: “The Bank is catalysing support for Scotland’s offshore wind supply chain by enabling companies like North Star to increase focus on providing vital services for offshore wind farms and in supporting their transition to net zero.” The investments in the project align with Scotland’s net zero ambitions, allowing continued expansion of offshore wind projects in the North Sea. Kevin Gilhawley, member of management, private infrastructure Europe, Partners Group, said: “Offshore wind forms part of our thematic focus on decarbonization and we see mission-critical infrastructure support services, such as those provided by North Star, as a high growth subsector.” Emblation and Saorsa Emblation , a health tech company that uses microwave energy, has acquired a US distributor as part of its international growth. The Scottish-based company has been undertaking a two year long expansion period and says the acquisition of the US company Saorsa will help fuel the next stage of their development. Sarosa will now become Emblation to lead the US division, after already having been the sole distributor of its Swift Microwave Therapy technology in the country. Gary Beale, co-founder, and CEO of Emblation, said: “This is a huge step towards us achieving both our commercial and clinical goals over the next four years. The US is the largest global healthcare market and from an Emblation perspective, represents a major area for growth.” Sarosa founder Chris McNamara said: “We understand the challenges facing US private practice and are committed to making an impact through innovation. We’ll be able to immediately benefit from shared capabilities and will sharpen our focus on accelerated growth for the US business.” Ashtead Technology and Hiretech International subsea equipment rental and solutions specialist Ashtead Technology has further expanded its mechanical solutions service offering with the acquisition of Hiretech . Hiretech is Ashtead Technology’s seventh acquisition in the last five years evidencing a continuation of the organic and inorganic growth strategy set out during its IPO in November 2021 and follows the Group’s acquisition of WeSubsea in September 2022. Allan Pirie, Ashtead Technology’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to announce the completion of this transaction and welcome new colleagues to the Ashtead Technology team. “Hiretech has an excellent reputation and strong heritage of delivering high-performance equipment and services to the offshore energy sector and has been a key supplier to Ashtead Technology in recent years. “This acquisition provides strong synergies through vertical integration of the supply chain, and meaningfully expands our business by adding complementary capabilities to strengthen our mechanical solutions service line and deliver an enhanced offering to our customers.” Andy Buchan, Hiretech’s CEO, said: “This is an exciting time for the business. As well as creating a tremendous opportunity for our people, becoming part of the Ashtead Technology Group will enable us to expand our existing capabilities and international footprint. “Our customers will now have access to a wider portfolio of products and services, resulting in a far more comprehensive solutions capability.” Software provider AutoRek has announced it has joined with Ardonagh Group as their client. AutoRek has been selected Ardonagh as they aim to drive efficiency in key back and middle office Insurance Broker Accounting (IBA) processes using intelligent automation technology. Output of these reconciliations will then be loaded back into the PAS systems and allocated out on a policy level, updating the systems. Gordon McHarg, CEO at AutoRek, added, “It is a huge success for AutoRek to have the calibre of a client such as The Ardonagh Group come on board. “We see potential to work together over the coming years on many different projects.” Piers Williams, Insurance Lead at AutoRek, added, “We are delighted to be working with The Ardonagh Group and helping the business achieve its objectives in the coming years. “AutoRek continues to grow its insurance presence quickly, and it is great to see that our No Code intelligent automation solution continues to improve back and middle office financial operations processes while increasing operational efficiency.” Scottish telecommunications company Commsworld will deliver better internet connectivity to over 100 schools in Northumberland. Commsworld won a contract with the Northumberland County Council to plan, design, migrate and manage a new solution of significant size and scale to 110 schools, which will boost education provision in the county. The proposed solution will replace the ageing infrastructure currently in place in primary and secondary schools, particularly in rural primaries. The Council aims to have a community of schools connected through a universal internet service which will provide enterprise-level services at an affordable cost, which Commsworld will help deliver. Steve Wood, Group Sales Director at Commsworld, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen by Northumberland County Council to deliver this contract. “Our service will pave the way for a significant enhancement of capacity, resilience and security in schools so that they can gain access to the best digital resources available today and in the future.” Eureka Solutions Scottish tech company Eureka Solutions had announced it has gained its 100th Oracle NetSuite client in a major milestone for the firm. The company’s latest client is UK grain storage company Trinity Grain, which is preparing for a period of growth and development under new Head of Finance, Caroline Whillock. Whillock previously partnered with Eureka Solutions while overseeing financial transformation at virtual reality gaming firm, nDreams – and says its software solutions and expertise are transferable from a hi-tech game developer and publisher to a rural cooperative of 300-plus farming members. She commented: “I am delighted to be working with Eureka Solutions again. It’s a fantastic opportunity to play a pivotal role in the success and sustainability of Trinity Grain for our membership.” As part of her role at Trinity Grain, Whillock will identify the right business management and financial software for the organisation, which has locations in Salisbury, Wiltshire, Lambourne in Berkshire, and the head office site in Micheldever, Hampshire. Whillock said: “Unlike the alternative partners we approached, Eureka Solutions don’t charge for this time, they invest it to ensure any subsequent project is thoroughly scoped. “They don’t bulk up the number of chargeable ‘days’, they just do what is required to deliver successfully. Their transparency is such that during our last project, they actually ‘banked’ days not used for us to call down in the future, rather than charging us for unnecessary work.”
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