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The DIGIT Deal Roundup Column | July 2021 Edition

David Paul

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DIGIT deal roundup
The DIGIT deal roundup for July is here! We see funding and partnerships from firms like Snappy Shopper, Blockchain Technology Partners, Forev, and Archangels.

Investment and Funding

Scottish National Investment Bank and Forev

The Scottish National Investment Bank has announced it will invest £2m in electric vehicle charging firm Forev.

According to the bank, the investment boost will support the firm in its efforts to create a network of more than 1,700 electric vehicle charging points across Scotland.

In particular, the company says it will focus on much-needed public ‘destination’ charging points, which allow drivers to charge their vehicles away from home.

Commenting on the announcement, SNIB chief executive Eilidh Mactaggart said: “The decarbonisation of transport is a significant challenge and one which is critical in the transition to net zero.

“Forev’s roll-out strategy has the potential to have a significant positive impact on the uptake of electric vehicles in Scotland, specifically by providing more charging options for EV drivers who do not have the ability to charge at home and drivers on the move.”

Mactaggart added: “It is an exciting and crucial time for the Bank to be supporting Forev, at the beginning of this journey, and we look forward to seeing the progress of the network over the coming years.”

The investment will allow Forev to continue with phase one of its infrastructure roll-out which will see the company begin to scale its charging network.

To read the full story, click here.


Snappy Shopper

Online home delivery service Snappy Shopper raised £19.4 million in funding as the company looks to capitalise on increased demand for local home deliveries.

Led by Kelvin Capital, the deal saw funding from a range of new and existing investors, including Maven Capital Partners, Scottish Enterprise, Highland Tech and former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King.

PayPoint also invested £6.6m in the Dundee firm. Snappy Shopper recently announced a new commercial partnership with PayPoint, enabling thousands of retailers to implement their own home delivery and click and collect services.

Following the investment, Snappy Shopper said it plans plans to create 400 jobs over the next three years and move to a new headquarters.

Mike Callachan, CEO and co-founder of the Snappy Group said: “Demand for the fundraise exceeded our expectations and we are pleased to have attracted such high-profile investors and advisers.

“The proceeds will significantly accelerate our next phase of growth across the UK, including investments in new services for our retail and hospitality partners and new hires across the business.”

Kelvin Capital founder John McNicol added: “Having supported Snappy from its inception through our network of connections and fundraising, we are delighted with the exceptional performance to date.

“It is and always has been a very exciting tech proposition and the investing partners joining us on this journey are testament to the ambition of the team.”

To read the full story, click here.


Blockchain Technology Partners

Scottish enterprise firm Blockchain Technology Partners (BTP) closed a £2m seed round led by London-based venture capital firm Force Over Mass.

Venture capital firm Signature Ventures also participated in the round alongside a number of angel investors, including early backers Martin Gilbert and Andrew Laing.

The funding round marks the second investment boost for BTP in the last 18 months.

In May 2020, the firm announced the appointment of its inaugural non-exec chairman on the back of a successful funding round led by Gilbert and Laing.

“We are delighted to welcome Force Over Mass and Signature Ventures as investors,” said Duncan Johnston-Watt, CEO and Co-founder of BTP.

“Force Over Mass’ focus on B2B software and Signature Ventures’ vision of a decentralised future are complementary and mesh perfectly with our own mission to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology by enterprises across the board.”

Wouter Volckaert, Partner at Force Over Mass, added: “By facilitating the development of blockchain-based applications, BTP’s transformational platform removes a major barrier for businesses looking to adopt enterprise blockchain technology.

“We have been extremely impressed by BTP’s founding team, and we are confident they will continue to lead the sector for years to come.”

To read the full story, click here.


R3-IoT

Scottish space tech startup R3-IoT has secured £3.1m in seed funding as the firm prepares for international expansion.

The investment round, led by US-based VC Sace Capital, saw a range of investors back the Glasgow-based startup, including the Scottish National Investment Bank, University of Strathclyde, and Ryan Johnson, former CEO of BlackBridge.

The investment round will enable R3-IoT to create 20 new roles over the next 18 months across its engineering, technical, sales, and marketing functions.

Eilidh Mactaggart, CEO of the Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “R3-IoT has emerged from Scotland’s thriving innovation and technology ecosystem and the team has ambitious plans to double its workforce in Scotland as they grow its products and services.

“The Bank is pleased to be investing alongside Space Capital, as well as Strathclyde University, from where one of the founders of R3-IoT graduated, demonstrating the strength of our home-grown talent.”

Company founder Allan Cannon said: “The funding round is clear recognition of the potential for our platform to broaden the reach of existing satellite technologies by focusing on what has been, up until now, the ‘missing piece’ in digitisation.

“We have ambitious plans and are in a strong position to accelerate our international growth strategy and take advantage of the rapid advances in space communications and IoT technology, from our base in Scotland.”

To read the full story, click here.


Archangels

Edinburgh-based investment group Archangels led £12.4m worth of investments in Scottish tech and life science companies during the first half of 2021.

The group’s figures were £2.9m higher than last year when it invested £9.5m in the first half.

Archangels invested £7.3m during the first six months of 2021 as well as having co-investment of £3.1m from Scottish Enterprise and £2m from a range of other co-investors.

During the period, Archangels invested in one new business and provided follow-on growth capital to seven existing portfolio companies.

Joint managing director at Archangels David Ovens said: “While the pandemic has had an inevitable impact on areas of the economy such as retail and hospitality, Scotland has a world-renowned tech and life sciences community that supports many thousands of high-quality jobs and is making an increasingly important contribution to the economy.

“At Archangels, we are committed to providing the growth capital and access to networks that support our portfolio companies, based here in Scotland, as they scale up to become truly international success stories.”


Macomics

Great news for Immuno-oncology firm Macomics in July which closed a seed financing round worth £7.44m.

Macomics initially secured follow-on financing of £4.24m from its 2020 seed round.

The latest funding brings in new investor Caribou Property, alongside existing investors Epidarex Capital – which led the round – and Scottish Enterprise.

Maocmics said it will use the money to expand the team and facilities in Edinburgh and Cambridge, as well as an acceleration of its macrophage-based therapeutics research and development portfolio to target discovery capability.

The new investment and planned Series A funding round will also enable the company to progress its antibody programmes towards the clinic and further spend on in its target discovery technology.

Commenting on the investment, chief executive Dr Steve Myatt as said: “Macomics has made great progress since its formation, and I am excited to lead us in driving forward its vision to become a leading immuno-oncology company pioneering macrophage-based therapies for the treatment of cancer.”


Aberdeen Windfarm Project

A new Aberdeen-led project has received a share of £800,000 to explore more efficient ways of installing offshore wind farms.

The project will examine new and more cost-effective methods of development as part of the Scottish energy industry’s journey to net zero.

As a collaboration between the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) – itself a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Net Zero Technology Centre – and Ellon-based Aubin Group, the project will utilise Aubin’s patented pumpable variable buoyancy technology (Deepbuoy).

Dr Marcin Kapitaniak, an Independent Research Fellow at the NDC, said the project will allow the technology to progress, potentially leading to the reduction in costs of installation of floating wind farms.

“The NDC’s simulator allows the research team to conduct virtual field trials, to demonstrate the capabilities of liquid buoyancy and the underwater lifting system in shallow, median and deep-water wind farm installations.

“Through real-time simulation studies we will be able to identify challenges relating to the installation of floating wind farm anchors and mooring systems.”

He added: “The findings from our studies should lead to the development of novel techniques for deployment of wind farm anchors and mooring systems.”

Dr Callum Scullion, product development manager at Aubin Group, said: “It is exciting to work with the National Decommissioning Centre on a project that can enable the scaling of floating windfarm projects in an environmental and cost-effective manner.

“Utilising state-of-the art technology to run virtual trials can inform and de-risk the design and installation of future mooring and anchor systems, which enables a reduction in kWh costs of floating wind and could reduce the UK economy’s reliance on fossil fuels further.

“The information we will gather in these virtual trials can also help towards reducing the environmental impact of these enormous infrastructure projects on the marine environment, reduce carbon footprint, optimise harbour and vessel options, and help plan for full lifecycle deployment, including field maintenance and future decommissioning.”

To read the full story, click here.


National Robotarium

Researchers at the National Robotarium have secured £586k to develop 3D laser beams capable of changing shape.

The funding award, secured from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will support the research and development of the lasers for industry application, accelerating the commercialisation of the technology.

According to industry research, the global laser processing market projected to grow from £2.8 billion in 2020 to £4.1 billion by 2025.

Dr Richard Carter, project lead and assistant professor of applied optics and photonics at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Manufacturing is of key strategic importance to the UK, with a particular focus on high-tech and high-value manufacturing.

“This research will address the priority area of digital manufacturing, enabling a bespoke, rapid response capability for the first time.

“The new methods we are developing represent a paradigm shift in the capabilities of laser-based manufacturing, making it possible to move between 3D beam shapes with zero down-time, low cost and minimal technical know-how.”

In an academic partnership, the project’s research into this kind of medical application will be supported by Professor David Jayne at the University of Leeds.

Similarly, researchers at the Robotarium will also work closely with industry partners, which include PowerPhotonic, Oxford Lasers and the GandH Group.

Commenting on the funding, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m very pleased to hear this cutting-edge research will be carried out at the National Robotarium, which is funded through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, and that it will have a direct impact on our world-leading manufacturing industries.”

To read the full story, click here.


The Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has announced a major £50m cash injection as part of the first phase of the new Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund (ScotZEB).

Replacing previous funding streams set out for zero-emission vehicles, the fund will ‘encourage’ the market to agree and implement new and innovative ways to finance zero-emission vehicles.

Building on the success of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, ScotZEB will now support Scotland’s green recovery, providing ‘immediate economic stimulus’ and supporting the Scottish Government’s ambitions to decarbonise the bus fleet.

Commenting on the funding, Transport Minister Graeme Dey said: “To accelerate progress towards a zero-emission bus fleet, we committed to convene a meeting of the Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce within our first 100 days.

“The Scottish Government has come to the table with an evolved offer for zero-emission bus funding – building on the experience of previous schemes and designed in a way that maximises opportunities to attract sustainable financing and encourage innovative ways of doing so.

“£50m is available in 2021 to help drive a green recovery, responding to the global climate emergency and to improve air quality. I’m excited to see results from the ScotZEB Challenge Fund and expect to offer a larger pot of funding in 2022 once it demonstrates its success.”

To read the full story, click here.


The UK Government and Innovate UK

The UK Government announced a substantial funding package in July to boost the UK’s transition to zero-emission road freight.

Zero-emission trials, costing £20m, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK, will help to develop solutions to support the uptake of zero-emission trucks.

Following previous battery-electric vehicle field testing in a real-world environment and feasibility studies, the new funding will help to design and develop cost-effective, zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and their refuelling infrastructure.

The latest funding round follows the government’s transport decarbonisation plan, in which a consultation on phase-out dates for the sale of new, non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles was launched.

Commenting on the news, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Through our bold and ambitious transport decarbonisation plan, we’re leading the way in the transition to zero-emission vehicles by becoming the first country in the world to commit to ending the sale of all new fossil-fuelled road vehicles by 2040, subject to consultation.

“From Doncaster to Scotland, by working in partnership with industry, this funding will allow us to better understand the role of zero-emission HGVs while levelling up the industry and boosting regional economies.”

To read the full story, click here.


Desana

Edinburgh-based PropTech startup Desana raised $4m (£2.9m) in funding as it looks to capitalise on the post-pandemic flexible working boom.

Desana secured the investment from a range of investors which includes Berlin-based PropTech1 Ventures, BGF and Techstart Ventures.

The cash boost marks Desana’s second significant investment in two years. In September 2019, the firm raised £550k in funding from Techstart Ventures.

According to Desana, the funding will be used to “capitalise” on the unprecedented demand for hybrid working options and expand into new markets.

Michael Cockburn, co-founder and CEO of Desana, said: “The growth of the business comes at a time when the traditional world of work has turned on its head. The shift towards flexible working was already in progress, however Covid-19, has accelerated this change.

“Employers are now looking for the flexibility that home working offers, however, they also yearn for the human interaction of the office. Desana fulfils a much-needed hybrid between the two.”

Paddy Graham, head of BGF’s Central Scotland and Northern Ireland team, added: “Desana is a really exciting business that is in a prime position to facilitate the current market shift to a flexible working approach.

“We immediately saw the company’s potential and alongside the other co-investors were able to deploy growth capital, at speed, to help it capitalise on the opportunity at hand.”

To read the full story, click here.


EBar

Aberdeen-based EBar closed a £670k equity round in July that will accelerate the roll-out of their self-service drinks dispensing technology to busy venues across the UK and Europe.

The funding was led by the Seedrs crowdfunding platform and Irish events entrepreneur Robert O’Dowd, with follow-on investments from Jenson Funding Partners, Equity Gap and Gabriel Investment Syndicate.

This round of funding will be used to launch their Beer-as-a-Service (BaaS) model, which will see EBar mobile kiosks at major events, festivals and sporting occasions where high demand and a reliance on temporary staff can result in a lost revenues and poor bar experiences.

Nick Beeson, Commercial Director of EBar, commented “We see every day how customers are opting for digital and more streamlined experiences, across many of their day-to-day activities, and how they choose to get their drinks at events or in large venues is no different.

“Our hygienic, contactless, self-service EBars are a 21st-century solution for operators who are looking to new technology to increase revenue, address staffing shortages, reduce costs, and most importantly improve the customer experience.”


Gigged.AI

A new platform designed to help companies hire UK digital talent has been launched by tech startup Gigged.AI.

The launch of the platform comes as the remote working trend, which started in reaction to the pandemic, is likely to continue.

It was made possible after receiving funding in 2020 from Innovate UK. Gigged.AI went on to receive the top rating from the innovation agency against over 1,500 other completed projects.

Gigged.AI founders Rich Wilson and Craig Short are aiming to take on larger players in a market that McKinsey estimates will total $2.7 trillion by 2025.

Wilson commented: “After a decade spent in leadership roles in HR and staffing, I knew technology could vastly improve the on-boarding of on-demand talent.

“The whole dynamic has shifted even further since the pandemic, and we’ve been able to take our vision through to market entry because of the hard work of our chief technology officer Craig Short and his team.

“With as much as 90% of work being done remotely, we’re already helping clients find the best digital talent much faster than ever before”

To read the full story, click here.


Deals and Partnerships

AAB and Purpose HR

Anderson Anderson and Brown (AAB) has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Edinburgh-based firm Purpose HR in July.

The acquisition, which is for an undisclosed sum, follows AAB announcing its growth plans to become a £50-million revenue group by 2025 and its recent merger with Glasgow-based accountants Hardie Caldwell.

Graeme Allan, Chief Executive at AAB, commented: “As a business-critical services group, we are focused on providing solutions for our clients across the key areas of finance and HR.

“Purpose HR being part of the AAB group enables us to continue to build our capabilities in the HR space and extend our payroll and HR offering to clients.

“We are delighted to welcome Purpose HR to the group and our growing team in the Central Belt, and look forward to exploring the ways in which we can enhance our service offering to existing and new clients across the UK and internationally.”

According to AAB, the deal adds a “new dimension” to the group’s growing central belt presence and provides exciting growth opportunities across the UK and internationally.

The acquisition will also accelerate Purpose HR’s growth aspirations, with the business continuing to operate under the Purpose HR brand and Thomson running the business as CEO and shareholder.

Commenting on the deal, Lisa Thomson said: “We have known AAB for a number of years and already have several mutual clients. The deal has come together at a great time for us as we look to accelerate our next stage of growth.

“It has been an exciting journey for the team and I to grow Purpose HR to this stage and having the chance to support so many amazing and innovative clients. Despite the challenges of the last year our client base has been actively growing and companies are increasingly recognising the value of investing in HR support and their people.”

Thomson added: “By becoming an AAB group company we will have access to the wider group resources and infrastructure, enabling us to increase the range of services we can offer to clients and to expand our team – we will be hiring across Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and London.”

To read the full story, click here.


Soar and Experian

Glasgow-based digital banking platform Soar is working with Experian to utilise its Decision Analytics solutions to support its work in the community banking market.

The new partnership will see Soar clients utilise Experian’s SaaS PowerCurve Customer Acquisition platform to help automate lending decisions, transforming their digital onboarding and customer application journey.

Andrew Duncan, CEO of Soar, commented: “The community banking market has traditionally been underserved when it comes to technology advancements.

“We’re committed to changing that, giving organisations the chance to provide their customers with the best digital offering possible.

“The breadth and accuracy of what Experian software can offer will be central to us in meeting that ambition and modernising the ethical banking sector.”

Steve Pulley, Managing Director Decision Analytics, Experian UKandI, added: “Today’s customers expect digital services to work seamlessly and almost instantaneously, while the impact of Covid-19 means it’s critical that lenders can accurately assess a potential customer’s suitability for lending.

“Our software plays a critical role in organisations’ decisioning, radically improving their efficiency and outcomes for customers and I’m delighted that those in the community banking market will feel the benefit that data-led analytics can bring.”

To read the full story, click here.


Codeplay

AI firm Codeplay has gained its second contract with the US Government, which will help the company look further afield to international markets.

The Edinburgh-based business has been selected by the US Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) National Labs to supply its software to a second supercomputer called Frontier, one of the highest performance machines in the world.

Commenting on the new contract, Charles Macfarlane, Chief Business Officer at Codeplay, said: “Having won our first contact with the National Labs in February, a second prestigious contact to support one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers is an incredible endorsement of Codeplay and our technology.

“Much more than an important commercial win, this engagement from the Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the US will further enhance our already strong reputation enabling supercomputers.

“Significantly, it shows that our software is portable to almost any hardware – our first engagement with the National Labs was on Nvidia processors – while this is for use on AMD processors.

“Enabling artificial intelligence and supercomputers are the most progressive technologies today and bring the toughest software challenges to overcome.”

Macfarlane added: “We believe our industry-leading software engineers are the best in the world and to maintain our leadership position we need to constantly invest in the best talent. High profile engagements and collaborations with organisations like the National Labs will only help us attract the highest calibre of people.

“We are entering a period of accelerated growth, be that it automotive, where manufacturers are constantly looking to push the boundaries of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), in supercomputing, smartphones or any of the many markets with artificial intelligence.”

Foresight Group, which supports innovative British companies at the cutting edge of technology, invested in Codeplay in 2018.

Chris Wardle, Director at Foresight, said: “Codeplay is doing a brilliant job in flying the flag for the UK at the cutting edge of the global tech sector, and we are delighted to see the team gaining further traction with the National Labs in the US.

“We are proud to support Codeplay during this exciting phase of growth and job creation and look forward to its continued progress in a fast-moving and disruptive sector.”

To read the full story, click here.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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