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18 July 2011

The North West Fund for Venture Capital invests in Blackburn security company

The North West Fund for Venture Capital, managed by EV, has made a £320,000 investment in Lancashire-based 4i Security Limited, a pioneering automated software-based security company.

Based in Blackburn, 4i Security was established in 2009 by managing director, Mark Slater, and technical director, Matthew Brough. It has since attracted an initial customer base comprising corporates, learning establishments and leisure companies located throughout the region. Nick Owen, a successful North West entrepreneur, has invested alongside the Fund and joins the board as chairman.

Mark and Matthew set up the company after identifying a potential market opportunity to deploy the latest software and communications technology to enhance clients' security systems. The company developed a product that eradicates false alarms and call-outs and preserves police response by increasing security, whilst dramatically reducing costs. This was achieved by implementing a single platform that controls all aspects including Intruder Alarms, Lone Worker Issues, Access Control, CCTV, Fire, Time Management Systems, Security Guard Replacement and Health & Safety Compliance. The company's ultimate aim is to save customers money as well as to give them access to valuable information about the operational efficiencies of their businesses.

The investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank (EIB), will enable 4i Security to build on its initial success and expand its operations.

Richard Young, fund manager, said: "We are delighted to become investors in 4i Security. Mark and Matthew have developed solutions which are at the leading edge of their industry. The company is demonstrating how its new generation of smart security systems can become a productivity tool in the modern business, as well as cutting out distracting false alarms and needless out-of-hours call-outs. With help and guidance from Nick Owen, with whom we have worked successfully with other investee businesses, the company has a very bright future.

"This investment illustrates our enthusiasm for backing innovative young entrepreneurs who have shown a real flair for business. Not only can we provide long-term funding, but also access to mentors who have built substantial companies themselves and can guide the business as it grows."

Mark Slater, managing director of 4i Security, commented: "4i is a very forward- thinking company with regards to automation and security, and we have already created many new markets with our product. In many ways, the security market has remained unchanged for the past two decades, with very little investment into groundbreaking technology. I believe we have demonstrated innovation that is light years ahead of any other security company and have produced a product and service that will change the way electronic security is provided. The introduction of investment from the Fund, knowledge from the EV investment team and the appointment of Nick Owen will allow us to take 4i to another level."

Andy Leach, chief executive of North West Business Finance, which oversees the delivery of The North West Fund, added: "I am thrilled that The North West Fund for Venture Capital is supporting 4i Security's growth plans. This is an important addition to a developing portfolio of quality, forward thinking companies that The North West Fund is supporting for the benefit of the region."

Chester and Manchester-based commercial law firm Aaron & Partners advised the Fund on the deal.

Image shows (l-r): Matthew Brough (4i), Nick Owen (4i), Mark Slater (4i) and Richard Young (EV)

Notes to editors:

The North West Fund
The North West Fund is a £185m evergreen investment fund established to provide debt and equity funding (from £50,000 to £2 million) to small and medium sized enterprises based in, or relocating to, the North West of England. The Fund addresses an identified gap in the lending, venture capital and private equity markets.

The North West Fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the European Commission's Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative - otherwise known as the JEREMIE programme.

North West Business Finance Ltd (NWBF) is a private, not for profit, company, established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund.

EV is a UK-based fund manager which provides venture and growth capital of up to £2million to new or existing SMEs located throughout the UK and trading across technology and non-technology sectors. It operates from regional offices in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston and manages a range of investment funds totaling more than £130million and focusing on all stages of development, including proof of concept/early stage, start-up, development capital, replacement capital and MBO/MBIs.

European structure, JEREMIE
The JEREMIE initiative offers EU Member States, through their national or regional Managing Authorities, the opportunity to use part of their European Union (EU) Structural Funds to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by means of equity, loans or guarantees, through a revolving umbrella fund. The initiative was developed by the European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Fund (EIF), which is part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group.

JEREMIE provides for a range of debt and equity financial tools to obtain the most appropriate allocation of funds according to national, regional or local requirements.

ERDF in the Northwest
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the Northwest. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region's economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment.

For further information on ERDF in the Northwest visit www.erdfnw.co.uk

The European Investment Bank (EIB)
The EIB is the European Union's long-term financing institution and, provides long-term finance for capital projects promoting European economic objectives. The EIB made its first loan in the UK in 1973 and since then has lent around €75bn for investment in the UK economy. In the years from 2004 to 2009, the EIB financed investment in the UK totalling some € 23.5bn - GBP 17.5 billion.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA)
The NWDA works to deliver economic success in England's North West by building the competitiveness of its businesses, people and places. Utilising technical expertise and strategic influence, it helps the region's 250,000+ businesses to develop and grow, as well as supporting international trade and encouraging inward investment.

For further information on the NWDA please visit www.nwda.co.uk

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