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29 August 2012

Fund manager round up - Quarter 2 2012

A review of some of our notable investments from April to July...

FMs main image

This was another strong period for The North West Fund, highlighting how the region's entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity of funding available to support their business growth plans.

In the four months to July, The Fund invested £8.4million into 28 businesses. Here are some of the highlights...

Richard Young head shotRichard Young, fund manager at EV, managers of The North West Fund for Venture Capital

App 55, a mobile payment provider secured significant investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, managed by EV.

The Salford-based company is using the investment to develop its Card Hub product, enabling merchants to convert browsing into sales by letting customers pay with their password from any smartphone, tablet or computer.

Manx Telecom deputy chairman Chris Hall was also appointed as non-executive chairman of the company.

App55 chief executive Richard Beaton said: "App55 streamlines the payment process and makes it easier for the consumer to buy and therefore more attractive to the retailer, supporting sales."

Doug Stellman, of EV, added: "A European Commission Green Paper issued in January 2012 identified key challenges in developing competitive card, mobile and internet payment systems across the EU. App55 contributes to the development of such systems."


Simon Cleaver head shotSimon Cleaver, investment director at YFM Equity Partners, managers of The North West Fund for Development Capital

In May, Mynt Facilities Services, a commercial cleaning business that is relocating to Liverpool, received a £650,000 funding boost from The North West Fund for Development Capital, managed by YFM Equity Partners.

Mynt, formerly ACS Cleaning, was set up by Mark Allen in 1997 to provide cleaning services to businesses, shops, schools and restaurants in Cheshire. It has since expanded into other areas and the investment will help it grow further.

Current Mynt clients include British Transport Police and Allied Irish Bank.

Mark Allen said: "We have ambitious exciting growth plans and with this investment we will be able to employ more staff and continue to build our business further to meet the growing demand for professional cleaning services."

Simon Cleaver of YFM Equity Partners added: "Mynt has many opportunities for growth following its recent acquisitions. We look forward to working with the team as they continue to develop services for clients and expand the business further."


Gary Guest 100sqGary Guest, fund manager at FW Capital, managers of The North West Fund for Business Loans

In May, The North West Fund for Business Loans, managed by FW Capital, provided a £225,000 loan package to Azurri, a Bolton-based retail IT supplier.

Azurri offers software services to help charities manage Gift Aid claims. The loan will help the company, whose clients include the British Heart Foundation and YMCA, extend its position in the growing charity retail sector.

Managing director Alastair Petrie said: "Over the last 10 years, Azurri's focus on innovation and customer satisfaction has enabled the company to build a strong retail client base."

He added: "The loan from The North West Fund for Business Loans has given us a solid platform to bring forward our expansion plans and build on the success we've achieved since entering this sector in 2010."

Philip Hargreaves of FW Capital, which manages The North West Fund for Business Loans, said: "Azurri is now well-placed for success in the UK's charity retail sector. I have a great deal of confidence in the management team and their growth strategy."


Penny A head shotDr. Penny Attridge, investment director at SPARK Impact, managers of The North West Fund for Biomedical

A pioneering company that has developed a technology to speed up the diagnosis of cervical cancer received £750,000 in investment  funding from The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, in May.  

A further £235,000 in investment came from new and existing investors, including Fusion IP plc.

Zilico, which was spun out of Sheffield University and will be headquartered in Manchester, is developing a new portable hand-held device to provide 'real time'  results for women who have undergone smear tests.

Sameer Kothari, chief executive of Zilico, said: "It is the strength of the Zilico proposition including the recent pivotal trial data that has enabled us to secure this significant investment. I am particularly pleased to bring on board SPARK, as an experienced healthcare investor."

Dr Penny Attridge of SPARK, fund manager for The North West Fund for Biomedical, added: "Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 and we feel this technology really has the potential to become a successful diagnostic tool for this cruel disease."


David Smith head shotDavid Smith, investment director at AXM Venture Capital, managers of The North West Fund for Digital & Creative

It was announced in June that The North West Fund for Digital & Creative, managed by AXM Venture Capital, made a six-figure equity investment into Setgo, a Liverpool-based developer of analytics software and technology for the computer games industry.

Software made by Setgo, founded in 2010 by three former Sony Entertainment employees, tracks player behaviour in games, analyses it and provides developers with insights that help them optimise engagement.

Managing director Clemens Wangerin said: "Our powerful game-analytics software, which provides real-time insights into player behaviour, is absolutely vital for developers to make the Free-To-Play model a success. Setgo Analytics provides the most flexible solution in this space."

Joanne Evans of AXM said: "We were impressed by Setgo's management team. They have a deep understanding of the games industry, a great reputation with their customers and partners and, most importantly of all, brilliant technology skills right at the core of the business."

Adam Workman head shotAdam Workman, partner at CT Investment Partners, managers of The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental

Innovative energy and regeneration business PlaceFirst received significant investment from The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental, managed by CT Investment Partners, in July in The North West Fund's 100th deal.

The funding will help grow the business in two of its key markets, remodelling rundown neighbourhoods and empty homes to create affordable housing and retrofitting renewable energy in the social housing sector.

PlaceFirst, based in Didsbury, Manchester, and founded in 2009, is currently working on a project to transform more than 100 empty terraced properties in Accrington into energy-efficient, affordable family homes.

David Smith-Milne, owner of PlaceFirst, said: "Working together with The North West Fund, our objective is to establish PlaceFirst as the partner of choice for public organisations that need ideas and funding to unlock difficult regeneration and energy projects."

He added: "The Government's focus on the supply of affordable housing, tackling empty homes and improving domestic energy efficiency in existing housing stock places us in a really strong position to grow."

Michael Bakewell of CT Investment Partners said: "PlaceFirst is a fantastic business that is well-placed to be at the forefront of the energy and regeneration market for affordable and social housing in the North of England."


If you are interested in finding out more about equity/loan funding to help grow your business please visit: http://www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk/funds

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