Guest blog by Briony Phillips, Investment Activator
April has been a boom time from an equity funding perspective with some long standing startups securing substantial investment and a long tail of newer companies closing their first investments too.
In total, 33 companies completed equity funding deals, which together amounted to £42.7 million of equity funding flowing into businesses in the South West of England. The funded companies can be found in Truro, Cirencester, Bristol, Salisbury and many places between, they also cover a wide range of sectors from agritech to femtech and much more. Ten of the companies raised £800k or more.
These companies have been identified using data provided by our partner Beauhurst who kindly enable us to share the news more widely in order to build the profile of our region and investment opportunities here. However, this month only nine of the 33 companies have talked about their investment news publicly so those are the ones that I can share in more detail:
A Bristol-based student rental company, HYBR is disrupting the market with its online platform – and the team is celebrating having just raised £700,000 in its first funding round. HYBR – whose name is a play on ‘hibernate’ was founded by 24-year-old University of Bristol graduate Hannah Chappatte with the mission to “fix the toxic student rental market.”
LatchAid is a Bristol-based startup and member of SETsquared Bristol which is seeking to revolutionise breastfeeding and early parenthood support through its innovative app – and founder Dr Chen Mao Davies has now successfully raised £1m to expedite her mission. The funding comes from an array of investors, including Dan Cobley, former Head of Google UK and Ireland, Eileen Burbidge MBE, ‘The Queen of British VC’, and Innovate UK – all with direct support from Innovate UK EDGE.
Minibems is an Enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) platform and heat network managed service designed to de-carbonise the heat network market. Minibems has attracted a new round of funding from its current investors, led by SET Ventures and supported by Ascension Ventures. The investment is match-funded by The Future Fund, the United Kingdom government’s co-investment scheme for innovative and high growth companies. This new round will enable Minibems to strengthen its product development and service offering as it continues to grow in the heat network market across the UK and Europe. As part of the strategy, we are pleased to announce that Simon Gunter is joining the company as Executive Chairman.
MitoRx Therapeutics (MitoRx), a biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics that reverse mitochondrial dysfunction to arrest the progression of degenerative diseases, announces the close of its seed financing. The company also announces the appointment of Glyn Edwards MBE as Chair, who brings specialist industry experience developing therapeutics for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and progressing these to late-stage clinical trials.
Sustainable Ventures are delighted to announce their investment into Owni (previously known as Shwap), a B2B SaaS company that enables fashion retailers and brands to build their resale, repair and recycling services while accessing a peer-to-peer resale platform. Owni integrates with fashion brands to automate product listings into users accounts. Users can then make products available for resale with a click of a button, preventing the need for manual uploads. Owni tracks products sold on their platform and shares the insights with brands, who are increasingly seeking to understand and manage the full lifecycle of their products.
Bristol-based start-up Propflo has announced that it has successfully closed its pre-seed funding round of £180k from strategic investors to grow its property transparency platform. The platform, which includes an ‘Experian-like’ proprietary property score that homeowners can add context to, as well as sustainability insights and support to prepare sellers and buyers, has generated significant interest amongst property professionals, especially mortgage intermediaries. The main objective of this funding round was to engage strategic investors with relevant experience to accelerate growth.
The Joy Club
The Joy Club, an online community platform tackling loneliness among retirees, has raised £1.1m in a funding round from VC firms and several notable angel investors, including Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen. Co-designed by a team of retirees, the Joy Club aims to tackle an epidemic of loneliness among elderly people. The Campaign to End Loneliness estimates that 1.4 million older adults in the UK experience severe loneliness, and predict the figure will rise to 2 million by 2025.
Rovco & Vaarst
Bristol-based Rovco is a leading provider of energy industry subsea robotics and hydrographic services using AI and Live 3D technology. Its sister company, Vaarst was launched just last year to revolutionise the future of marine robotics by leveraging intelligent data flows for smart asset management and creating an energy-efficient and more sustainable future. Rovco & Vaarst announced that Legal & General and Equinor Ventures are co-leading in the £15.2m Series B raise for the innovative technology and renewables businesses.
With these nine exciting equity funding stories shared, and a number of local companies actively crowdfunding at the moment, I’m already looking forward to what May will hold – keep an eye on Engine Shed for the next update.
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This article is written as part of the Investment Activator Programme (IAP) in the West of England. This programme is run by TechSPARK and is kindly sponsored by TLT LLP, delaware, West of England Combined Authority, UWE, Sanderson, Engine Shed and Rocketmakers. Find out more about the IAP here.