We are also especially pleased that two of the presenting companies are led by women, and one by two entrepreneurs of Asian origin. We also had lots of women investors, and younger people, in the audience. Our diversity programme is paying off.
If you are interested in learning more about these five new exciting opportunities, as well as our five other live deals – Smile Plastics, Powervault, DBS, AirEx and BetterPoints – please contact Nick Lyth or Simon Acland.
Simplifai – AI-powered traffic management solution for congested cities
Ambition – Simplifai’s aim is to help cities reduce traffic congestion and the related air pollution by up to 30%, thanks to its artificial intelligence-based software, improving the flow of vehicles by optimising traffic lights across the city in real time. Simplifai targets the UK first but its ambition is global, including China and the US.
Market and business model – Simplifai estimates its addressable market at £95-135bn globally, corresponding to the predicted annual spending of a hundred thousand towns and cities on traffic management software. In 2018, in the UK alone, over £15m of smart mobility tenders were announced.
Simplifai’s model is to sell its software solution to cities using a recurring annual subscription model. To enable a rapid and cost-effective international rollout, it will work with cities’ key suppliers as distribution partners.
What it’s achieved so far – Simplifai has successfully delivered a prototype software in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester and Innovate UK, and recently secured another project with Leeds LEP. In 2018, the company was a finalist at Pitch@Palace. To date, Simplifai has secured £1.6m in funding, mainly in grants and research contracts.
Team – Keith McCabe (CEng), CEO, has 40 years’ international experience in transport; James Blackwood (CITP), Chief Operations & Technology Officer, has scaled two tech businesses, with 20 years in large-scale technology and operational leadership. Prof Lee McCluskey, Chief Research Officer, has published 150 papers on AI and a book on the application of AI to road transportation.
Exit – Simplifai anticipates it will be acquired in five years or less by an existing industry player such as Siemens, Hisense or Cubic.
Fundraise – Raising £1m (EIS), with a further £1m identified from grant agencies and co-investment. The funds will be used to convert Simplifai’s proof of concept into commercial-grade software, to build the team, to secure initial UK customers and to accelerate its entry into China and the US.
BuyMeOnce – Monetising the ‘less is more’ movement
Ambition – BuyMeOnce is an online platform selling the longest-lasting and most sustainable products on the planet, monetising the ‘less is more’ movement to change the way the world shops – thereby leveraging the often overlooked but massive potential of ‘long-term buying’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make better use of resources and help solve the growing environmental crisis.
Market and business model – BuyMeOnce is a one-stop shop e-commerce site regrouping the longest lasting sustainable products, selected by the team based on its proprietary research. The company targets eco-conscious millennials and GenX women with above average disposable income. According to M&S consumer research, 45% of consumers want to buy more sustainably but find it difficult to take part.
BuyMeOnce estimates its global addressable market at £1.25tn, of which £400bn in the UK and US. Zooming in on the online spending by its target audience specifically on its product categories, BuyMeOnce sees a total addressable market of £22bn (UK and US).
What it’s achieved so far – BuyMeOnce was founded in 2016 and since then the site has attracted 3m unique visitors as well as 60,000 engaged followers and email subscribers. In early 2018, founder Tara Button published her book ‘A Life Less Throwaway’ and the new version of the platform was launched. The concept has gone viral and media coverage has been very strong (The Telegraph, The Guardian, New York Times, CNBC etc.). UK sales have been growing by 29% quarter-on-quarter.
Team – Tara Button, CEO, is an entrepreneur, author and speaker on sustainable living with 10 years in blue chip brand marketing. Lily Courtauld, Director Retail, has ten years’ experience in product and business development with Harvey Nichols and Burberry. BuyMeOnce has four further employees and key advisors with strong expertise in e-ecommerce, retail and finance.
Exit – BuyMeOnce expects a trade sale to an e-commerce specialist, a retail company or a media outlet, and could also pursue an IPO.
Fundraise – Seeking £500k (EIS), that will be used to accelerate growth in traffic (marketing, SEO and content) as well as to improve conversion (web-development and drop-shipping) and the product offering (research hires and tech).
NatureMetrics – Using cutting edge DNA analysis to monitor biodiversity
Ambition – NatureMetrics offers ground-breaking DNA-based biomonitoring services that accurately and cost-effectively address the need to monitor biodiversity and environmental change – surveying everything from bees to bacteria, in contexts ranging from farming to energy generation and forestry. Its DNA-based techniques make it possible to directly identify large numbers of species at large spatial and temporal scales.
Market and business model – The demand for biodiversity assessment is growing thanks to global expectation for industry to monitor and mitigate their impacts on the environment. The current per-project spend is in the region of £50k-£100k per year but large projects in natural or critical habitats can spend millions. Significant budgets also exist from international development organisations. For example, the World Bank recently approved $236 million for environmental, sustainability, conservation and biodiversity projects in developing countries.
To date, multi-year monitoring projects have been carried out by naturalists collecting species in the field and identifying them visually – a piecemeal, labour-intensive, time-consuming and costly process, yielding data of limited quality.
NatureMetrics offers a breakthrough, using DNA techniques which provide a very cost-effective, accurate and fast solution to measuring species. The company has developed end-to-end services for detecting and identifying multiple species from complex biological or environmental samples, rapidly generating vast datasets with unprecedented power to track changes in ecosystems.
Its business model provides for a high level of repeat revenue from year to year, with high margins and multi-year contracts from large corporates, consultancies, NGOs and international organisations.
NatureMetrics is developing a network of partner laboratories around the world to facilitate access to high value commercial opportunities in emerging markets while allowing it to remain focused on data processing and analytics – the most scalable element of the process.
What it’s achieved so far – The company has traded for three years, is profitable, and has doubled revenue each year. NatureMetrics has established a strong reputation both in the UK and abroad: its expert management team are at the forefront of the field and are actively collaborating in the establishment of worldwide standards.
Team – Kat Bruce, co-founder and Managing Director, holds a BSc in Wildlife Biology and a PhD in the use of DNA metabarcoding for informing environmental management. Dr Cuong Q Tang is Lead Scientist and Dr Alexandra Crampton-Platt is Lead Bioinformatician. NatureMetrics has seven other team members, and its board is chaired by Simon Acland, a director of Green Angel Syndicate, who led the seed investment round in 2016.
Exit – An exit is envisaged via trade sale within 3-5 years, the most likely buyers being the global environmental consultancies.
Fundraise – Seeking a minimum of £1m (EIS) to accelerate its growth by setting up partnerships with international laboratories, expanding its UK facilities, as well as growing the sales and scientific staff.
Sunntics – Optimisation software for Concentrated Solar Power plants
Ambition – Sunntics’ aim is to unlock the benefits of the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology for sun-rich countries, enabling them to migrate from carbon dependency to an economy driven by cheap renewable energy. Sunntics is using artificial intelligence technology to drive down cost, increase reliability and manage the risks and uncertainties of CSP plants. The company wants to become the global leader in CSP plant optimisation tools by 2023.
Market and business model – Sunntics targets the developers, engineers and project financiers of CSP plants to enable them to maximise returns, delivering: 1) a reduction of about 10% in the capex required for a typical CSP plant, by optimising the overall design of the plant, and 2) an increase in revenues from the plant of £1-2.5m per year, by optimising the aiming regime of the heliostats (the mirrors reflecting the sunbeams to the central tower).
Sunntics’s algorithms can rapidly compute the most cost-effective plant design for any location in the world. Its powerful mathematical methods solve complex problems such as calculating the performance of each individual heliostat and of the whole solar plant for every hour of every day of the year.
The total value of the CSP tower market was c.£2bn in 2018 but is expected to grow to £35bn by 2023, with the market for support services representing up to 10% of that total. Sunntics will offer its design capability as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), and will seek to integrate its software into CSP tower operators’ control systems.
What it’s achieved so far – Sunntics was founded in 2018 and has recruited a highly experienced management team, which has further developed the company’s software toolset and engaged in intensive market engagement ahead of a commercial launch in 2019. Sunntics is the holder of several CSP-related patents.
Team – Dr Manuel Quero, CEO, is an expert in solar power engineering with nine years’ experience leading major development projects for Abengoa. Dr Juan Pedro Perez, CTO, is an expert in geographical and spatial visualisation, and was previously CTO and founder of start-up Geographica. Nick Fryars, COO, has deep management experience. Allan Mortimer, Chairman, has a track record in guiding a software business through a successful trade sale.
Exit – Sunntics expects its most likely route for exit will be a trade sale in about five years.
Fundraise – Raising £350k (EIS) that will be used to build organisational capability and leverage the company’s existing IP into a market-ready software-as-a-service product.
Q Energy – Energy as a service, helping buildings to cut energy costs and CO2 emissions
Ambition – Q Energy aims at lowering energy costs for businesses by up to 30% by providing ‘Energy as a Service’ through its smart platform – ensuring comfort for occupants and efficiency for building managers, whilst achieving significant carbon emission reductions.
Market and business model – Q Energy are targeting energy supply in commercial buildings, specifically the SME market with energy bills in the £30-200k bracket, a market of several hundred million pounds per year in the UK.
Q Energy’s offering is Energy as a Service, becoming a corporate client’s energy supplier and enabling a lower bill. To achieve that, Q Energy is using a dedicated box which retrieves a building’s energy usage and uploads the data to its servers, and then a proprietary artificial intelligence algorithm that finds opportunities to ‘flex’ the building’s energy usage to cut consumption with no impact on comfort.
Q Energy will earn revenues from the fixed fees charged to customers and will keep a share of the savings achieved by customers; but it will also generate revenues from flexibility services to the grid.
What it’s achieved so far – Q Energy was founded in 2018 and has received grant funding to enable the rollout of trial projects, notably from Innovate UK and Cityverve. Its system is live at the Exchange Building in Manchester. The team has taken part in the Startup Bootcamp IoT programme.
Team – Dr Li Yao (PhD in computer science), is cofounder and managing director. He previously co-founded Sparta Digital, a tech company focusing on IoT and smart cities. Vijay Natarajan (MSc in B2B market and BEng in Mechanical Engineering) is cofounder and marketing director. He has 10+ years of relevant experience in the sector.
Exit – Potential exit via a trade sale to an energy supplier or technology provider, or, at a later stage, via an IPO.
Fundraise – Seeking £500k (SEIS and EIS) to connect its first 200 sites in two years. The funding will be used for product development, to support the deployment of the service, and for sales and marketing.