DIGIT Deal Roundup October 2018
Welcome to the October edition of the DIGIT Deal Roundup. This month we cover new partnerships, funding, and contracts from companies such as Speech Graphics, Kindaba, FNZ Group and Indigo Pipelines.
Speech Graphics, an Edinburgh-headquartered firm specialising in facial animation has secured £2 million in funding to support its ambitions for an expansion into the US market.
The company, a spin-out from the University of Edinburgh plans to target the customer service sector’s intelligent visual assistant market, estimated to be worth more than £8 billion in the next six years.
The investment comes from Archangels, Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank.
Dr Gregor Hofer, co-founder and chief executive of Speech Graphics, said: “The consumer expects round-the-clock customer service. Intelligent virtual assistants may seem like the answer but we also expect service with a smile.”
Michael Berger, Hofer’s fellow co-founder, said: “Speech is not just about lip sync, it’s also about energy and emotion in the voice that needs to come across perfectly in the face.”
Skyscanner co-founder, Gareth Williams, has invested an undisclosed amount in an equity stake at Edinburgh-based ad-free social media company, Kindaba.
This investment is leading the company’s £300,000 equity crowd-funding, which will be used to scale the firm’s user base and to establish it in the emerging Famtech sector – a market worth an estimated £45 billion.
Williams said of Kindaba: “The team is fantastic. Whatever the problem space, founders need to have that laser focus in order to stand a chance of getting to their destination.
“In my experience, the founders and the team they build are so important to the future success of their company.”
Lizzie Brough, co-founder and chief experience officer at Kindaba, said: “This investment will allow us to scale our customer outreach and bolster our development team so that we can continue to work smart and at speed developing the features our families are searching for.”
HIG and General Atlantic have sold their two-thirds stake in Edinburgh-based FNZ Group to Generation Investment Management, the firm co-founded by former US vice-president Al Gore and a Canadian pension fund.
The deal is understood to be worth £1.65bn and one of the world’s largest fintech transactions of 2018.
FNZ is responsible for more than £300bn in assets under administration held by around five million customers of some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
Adrian Durham, chief executive and founder of FNZ, said: “We see a unique opportunity to create a global-scale platform for wealth management.
“This requires a willingness to invest for the long-term. The firm’s 400 employee shareholders are firmly committed to this outcome and CDPQ-Generation is the perfect partner, given its unique eight to 15 year time horizon and focus on sustainable investments.”
David Blood, senior partner and co-founder at Generation, said: “FNZ represents an outstanding first investment for our new partnership. It is an exceptional company with a management team that has demonstrated its ability to innovate and grow in the fast-moving fintech sector.
“We believe our long-term approach will suit the company and allow it to continue to invest in its technology and service proposition to the benefit of savers and pensioners, as well its employees, customers and investors.”
Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) have agreed to sell Indigo, the third largest independent gas transportation network in the UK, to independent infrastructure asset manager, Arjun Infrastructure Partners (AIP).
As yet, financial terms have not been disclosed. Subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, the transaction is expected to complete by the end of February 2019.
Commenting on the transaction, Gary Le Sueur, a Partner at SEP said: “Over the course of the last few years, we have developed Indigo into a high quality and successful business. It is now one of the fastest growing companies in its sector with an impressive track record.
“The proposed transaction will provide a significant return to our investors. We believe that AIP will be an excellent owner of the business and that Indigo will continue to perform strongly in the future.”
Surinder Toor, Founding Partner of AIP said: “Indigo is a modern, high-quality, gas pipelines network in the UK with long-term, regulated cash flows and significant growth potential. It represents an exciting investment opportunity for our investors.”
The Scottish Government has awarded Leidos, a global science and technology solutions leader, a five-year contract worth £26.9m to support the government’s Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) Shared Service.
P2P connects public sector procurement teams with suppliers, managing everything from the initial order through to final payment.
Leidos will provide data hosting, integration, reporting and deployment services for the system. Wider responsibilities include service desk and contract management activities with public sector users of the P2P service.
Matt Wiles, Chief Executive of Leidos UK, said: “P2P is about faster, simpler and more straightforward supplier relationships.
It is the lynchpin driving efficiency in Scotland’s public services’ supplier relationships, and we are delighted to extend our work with our partners in the Scottish Government to deliver this vital shared service to the public sector.”
Edinburgh-based software developer Cultivate has announced a new partnership with healthtech company Care Sourcer. The two have paired up to create a new platform for the company to support its work with the NHS.
Cultivate will work closely with Care Sourcer’s engineering team. Both are based out of Edinburgh’s incubator and tech campus, Code-Base, which will help to facilitate the cooperation between the two.
Cultivate’s chief commercial officer, Andy Robinson, believes the new platform has the potential to scale and transform the care sector: “The Care Sourcer team is tackling one of society’s greatest challenges.
“We’re excited to be supporting this journey. It’s also great to see two Edinburgh tech companies working so closely together, and we’re proud that our team’s expertise can play a part in tackling such a significant challenge.”
Andrew McGinley, CEO and co-founder of Care Sourcer, said of the collaboration: “We’ve known the team at Cultivate for a number of years now. We share a lot of the same values and as we look to further scale Care Sourcer in the months ahead, it’s comforting to know that we do that with their engineering talent at our disposal.”
Unifii Ltd, the UK-based enterprise service management, ServiceNow automation and integration specialist, has announced a new strategic partnership agreement with Cloudsoft, application, automation and AWS experts that specialises in enterprise use of AWS.
ServiceNow partners since 2010, Unifii have lately been expanding their ServiceNow offerings and the next step in that partnership eco-system is the announcement today that they have teamed up with AWS specialists Cloudsoft to expand the take-up of the AWS Service Catalog Connector for ServiceNow, aimed at allowing enterprises to map ServiceNow to AWS.
Stephen Mamelok, Director Unifii, said “Unifii believe in technology innovation, value add, data driven processes and most of all providing the customer with the right solution. Through working in partnership with Cloudsoft, we are able to take that next step and offer all these beliefs by bring ServiceNow and AWS closer together.”
Ross Gray, CEO Cloudsoft, said “As an AWS Advanced Partner, and a specialist in connecting ServiceNow to AWS Service Catalog, we are delighted to partner with Unifii who have a complementary specialist practice in the enterprise ServiceNow landscape.
“The outcome for enterprise ServiceNow and AWS customers is an ability to consume AWS with less friction from their familiar ServiceNow platform and doing so safely by leveraging the design-time guardrails of Service Catalogue.”