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The Welsh firms raising equity to expand and create new jobs

Here we feature the latest equity investment deals to support the growth of Welsh firms.

Route Konnect

A Cardiff AI software company has received secured a £780,000 pre-seed equity investment led by the Development Bank of Wales’ technology seed fund.

Route Konnect, based at Tramshed Tech, has also secured backing from proptech VC Pi Labs, early-stage investors SFC Capital and private angel investors with the backing of Plug and Play, who were early investors in Dropbox and PayPal.

Described as the Google Analytics of physical spaces, Route Konnect is the first video analytics platform to anonymously capture connected, multi-camera, vehicle and people movement insights across a defined space, town or city.

Advised on by Cardiff-based GS Verde Group, the deal will support the firm’s growth ambitions by doubling the team with key technical and business operation hires in order to bring the platform to market.



Route Konnect spent over a year in research and development, taking part in the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme, where the firm helped Dubai Police explore options to improve emergency response times with smart city solutions.

The company is now trialling the introduction of smart corridors with Cardiff City Council to ease traffic congestion.

As a result, it was selected as one of 11 Welsh businesses to take part in cohort two of Transport for Wales’ Lab Accelerator programme.

A pilot trial will soon commence to help identify opportunities to reduce dwell time at train platforms and better manage crowd control at special events.

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The company was set-up by Cardiff University alumni trio, chief executive Mohamed Binesmael, software engineer Matteo De Rosa, and chief technology officer and former software engineer for Amazon, Daniel Harborne.

Mr Binesmael said: “Our platform captures accurate, intelligent, real-time insights into the movement of people and vehicles – without infringing on individual privacy – to enable better, more efficient traffic management, place-making and urban planning across towns and cities globally.

“From reducing wait times at traffic lights and easing congestion for emergency services access, to improving customer experiences at stadiums and retail outlets, the application of accurate and anonymous movement insights has universal potential.”

He added: “We are thrilled to secure the backing of this incredible line-up of investors, enabling us to double the size of our team with new technical and operational hires, including machine learning and video analytics specialists.

“With so much research and development already under our belts, we’re ready to accelerate on our ambitions to change the way the world understands people and vehicle behaviour and use intelligent data to save time, resources and reduce impact on the planet.”

Matthew Wilde of the Development Bank of Wales tech ventures team said: “Route Konnect has built upon recently published techniques to innovate away the need for facial recognition for multi-camera movement analytics. This capability unlocks powerful insights about the movement across an entire location, without infringing on privacy.”

Mr Wilde added: “It’s an ethical solution that addresses a big gap in the market with increasing concerns about public safety, growing traffic congestion problems, rising favourable government initiatives for effective traffic management, increasing adoption of eco-friendly automobile technologies, and the development of smart cities across the world. Even better, it’s being developed right here in Cardiff by a young and ambitious team, so it was an unmissable opportunity for us as early-stage tech investors.”

Hugo Silva, senior investment manager at Pr Labs, said: “The future of transport and mobility is intrinsically linked to how the built environment is evolving, with AI solutions becoming an essential tool in response to emissions regulations and congestion issues.

“Additionally, Route Konnect’s platform goes even further than just transportation and can better inform developers, contractors and asset managers about the flow of people around their properties.

“Our investment in the company aligns with our conviction to back the most innovative start-ups that are accelerating the trend towards smart cities and urban sustainability. Having invited them to be a part of our 2022 Growth Programme, we are beyond excited to back Mohamed, Daniel and Matteo and our team is committed to helping them scale further and see Route Konnect’s solution deployed widely across global cities.”

Configur



Left to right Josh Evans, James Taylor, and Marco Oliver of Configur

Data software specialists Configur has appointed a non-executive advisor as it targets a £10m valuation within the next 12-18 months.

The Newport-based start-up, which was founded by Marco Oliver and Josh Evans in 2019, has appointed entrepreneur James Taylor to support its strategic growth plans – which has just closed its latest round the value of which has yet to be disclosed.

Mr Taylor who founded child development organisation Superstars with seed capital of just £1,000 and scaled it to a company employing over 100 employees, has been working with Configur’s founders since the start of the year to scale-up its growth.

Having spent the last 18 months developing its platform to allow businesses to easily store, secure and share its data to empower collaboration and data-driven decisions, Configur’s founders now have rapid growth plans in place for the next three years.

The business has already grown by 40% since the start of 2022 and is on track for over 200% growth by the end of the year.

Having had experience of starting and scaling a business, Taylor, who previously won IoD UK Director of the Year, is helping Configur’s founders to develop and implement strategic and tactical planning across the entire business.

After meeting while working together at multi award-winning intelligent automation company, Configur’s founders realised there was a gap in the market for a platform that easily connects business data to drive insights, at an affordable price point.

The duo bootstrapped the business in its first year, before raising £220,000 seed funding. It has since grown to a team of nine staff and is working with UK clients of all sizes across 12 different sectors.

Configur’s co-founder Marco Oliver, said: “Having met James through BeTheSpark and hearing how he grew SuperStars, we knew his experience of scaling a business would be hugely beneficial to us as we embark on our growth plans. We’re delighted that he’s joined us in an advisory capacity. He’s already helped us get the foundations in place to grow the business and we’re excited to have him on board for the next stage of our journey.”

Having exited the day-to-day running of Superstars, yet retained his shareholding, Taylor is now working with a portfolio of businesses in an advisory role. On working with Configur, he said: “When I look to work with a business, I look for three things. people, product and potential. Do I believe in the people behind the business, and could I work well with them? Can I be passionate about the product and is it a business that can be significantly scaled? On chatting with Josh and Marco, they were ticking all my boxes!

“When you establish a business, you don’t know, what you don’t know, but having scaled a business myself, I now understand what you need to achieve growth. I’m looking forward to using my experience to help Josh and Marco put the right things in place to scale Configur. With triple digit growth on track for this year, it’s an exciting time to be involved.”

MeOmics Precision Medicine

Biotech venture MeOmics Precision Medicine has secured six-figure pre-seed funding to help develop the world’s first precision psychiatry platform as it targets an valuation of up to £100m in five years time.

The Cardiff University spinout said the platform will improve the diagnosis and treatment of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar and other mental disorders.



Investor David Stevens

Its funding round has been baked by former chief executive of Admiral David Stevens, Darran Evans and Edward Parkinson.

It has also secured additional match funding from Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst fund, together with in-kind participation from a leading UK mental healthcare provider.

This funding will enable the MeOmics platform to enter its next stage of development from 1st May, with the expectation to build a large multidisciplinary team of experts in the Cardiff area, growing a company value of £10m in two years and £50m to £10om within five years.

MeOmics’ scientific founders are professors Adrian Harwood and Jeremy Hall. Its team includes special advisors Dr Lucy Sykes (cell specialist and entrepreneur) and Professor James Walters (an acknowledged genomics expert). The business is led by chief executive Alasdair Pettigrew, a seasoned business leader with a track record of success in taking novel thinking to world-leading status.

Mr Pettigrew said: “It is difficult to overstate the importance of this funding – and the potential of the MeOmics platform. There hasn’t been a breakthrough in the treatment of severe mental illness for decades. It’s an infinitely complex field and is treated to date with historical drugs and a degree of trial and error.

The platform has the potential to change all that. We plan to be able to give drug companies, for the very first time, the data they need on the type of patients who will respond to a certain type of drug – enabling good science to show how bio-signals change with each treatment.”

Mr Stevens said: “My idea of a perfect investment is one which supports the growth of a company based in Wales, which is excellent in its field and whose success would be a positive for all, not just for its investors. Rarely does an investment score 3 out of 3. MeOmics is based in Wales, and it’s built on the brilliant research of a very talented team from Cardiff University. Its goal is to accelerate the development of new and better treatments for mental illness. What’s not to like!”

Fellow investor Mr Evans addes “Meomics is operating in a very worthwhile and exciting space. The need for more efficient and targeted therapies in the mental health sector is clear. The team have already made significant steps and I look forward to seeing further progress towards their ambitious objectives in the next couple of years.”

Mr Parkinson said: “I am delighted to support this Cardiff University spin-out that combines machine learning with unique omics data to unlock life changing therapies.”

“This development promises to be a quantum leap in the ability to treat conditions that cause unimaginable pain and distress across the world. It will reduce the human, social and economic cost of severe mental illness, ultimately providing a platform that can develop and deliver a precision mental healthcare approach – and in the future, possibly even enabling MeOmics to create its own pipeline of drugs.”

Trameto

Trameto, an innovator of smarter energy harvesting power management ICs (EH PMIC), has successfully closed the second round of seed funding.

The investment, the value of which hasn’t been disclosed, has come from the Development Bank of Wales and u-blox AG, a leading global provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies and services. The development bank is an existing equity investor and board observer, and u-blox AG will also join the board as an observer.

Chief executive and co-founder of Chepstow-based Trameto, Huw Davies, said: “This funding round enables us to embark on the next part of our journey to engage more widely with the market to complete and promote our OptiJoule energy harvesting PMIC solutions.

“Meeting the demand to remove or reduce the reliance on batteries used in wireless IoT devices is one of the initial application markets we are addressing. “

Trameto previously received investment from the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, believed to be the first Welsh company to benefit from the SME Instrument Phase 2 grant initiative

It is also the first European company to be accepted into the Californian-based Silicon Catalyst, the world’s only incubator programme focused exclusively on accelerating semiconductor startups. Trameto’s energy harvesting technology recently gained further industry recognition by winning the Elektra 2021 Power Product of the Year award.

Dr Richard Thompson, senior investment executive at the development bank, said: “We’re delighted to participate in Trameto’s second round of seed funding. Incorporating batteries in an industrial sensor effectively locks in the need to regularly replace them, disrupting production and contributing to high through-life operating and maintenance costs.

“Trameto’s OptiJoule EH PMICs offer the simplest, most effective, and economical way to create self-sustaining wireless IoT solutions. Huw and the team have made exceptional progress and we look forward to working with Trameto, Silicon Catalyst and now u-blox as our new corporate co-investor.”

Tony Milbourn, corporate strategy, u-blox, said: “Trameto has a clear vision to help manufacturers adopt an alternative approach to powering IoT devices. Unlike existing energy harvesting techniques that require significant design effort for different harvester types, OptiJoule autonomously adapts to any, many, and multiple harvester technologies.”

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