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7 Leeds Businesses That Have Just Secured Major Investment

· Katie Wells · Opinion

Big investments mean big plans.

Factor AI

Despite the pandemic, these Leeds businesses are thriving…

In the midst of a pandemic, as we all face unpredictable challenges, these seven Leeds businesses have secured major investment. From FinTech start-ups to simulation specialists, they’re all on the up and up, thanks to a well-deserved cash injection that will help them grow, innovate and explore global markets. Find out who they are and why they’re the ones to watch.

Hero

Hero Software

Physical and mental health has never been more important, something that Joe Gaunt knows only too well. He launched Hero in 2018 to help organisations promote employee wellbeing. Their digital platform supports all aspects of an individual’s health, from nutrition tracking to exercise goals, then feeds real-time insights to employers to help them identify ways to improve wellness and build a happier and healthier workforce.

It’s an exciting time for Hero. They secured an investment of £825,000 at the end of 2020 that will help them improve the software, develop new features and advance their marketing strategy. The cash injection came from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which provides commercially focussed finance to start-ups and SMEs in the North. The funding is a huge vote of confidence in the Leeds start-up and will help to fuel its growth in the future.

Force24

Force24 develops automation technology that helps marketers to work smarter and faster. The cloud-based platform allows you to design emails, create microsites, track campaigns and monitor web activity all from one, easy-to-use system. It integrates seamlessly with your existing CRM, so you can work more efficiently and produce effective automated campaigns in a matter of minutes.

Their platform is already used by over 4,000 marketers in the UK, and with the pandemic driving more businesses to embrace digital transformation, their turnover saw a whopping 40% leap in 2020. But that’s not the best bit, because they’ve been given a major boost thanks to a cash injection from YFM Equity Partners, who’ve just invested an undisclosed amount in the company.

FactorAI

FactorAI Office

FactorAI has developed a sensor that gives real-time insights into the manufacturing process of formulated products like toothpaste and shampoo. Their sensors are retrofitted to industrial mixers, where they collect data and use sophisticated AI algorithms to identify areas of improvement, like quality issues or ways to reduce processing time. This insight enables businesses to achieve higher levels of compliance, traceability and sustainability.

Innovate UK awarded funding from their SBRI Sustainable Innovation Fund to FactorAI in November 2020. The undisclosed amount will be used to develop a sustainability sensor and run a proof-of-concept study that will allow them to take it to market. It’s hoped the sensor will provide manufacturers with the data they need to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Surgical Innovations

Surgical Innovations is a MedTech company that specialises in the design and manufacture of medical devices for minimally invasive surgery. The business was founded in the 90s and their first product was the EndoFlex, a tool that improves surgeons’ access to organs in laparoscopic procedures. They’ve continued to develop innovative solutions for keyhole surgery ever since.

They’re now pioneering tech that combines disposable and reusable elements to produce medical devices that reduce waste in the most cost-effective way. This research received a huge cash injection when the company raised £2.2 million by placing shares with new and existing investors in September 2020. The money will be used to continue the development of new products and support their sustainability initiatives.

Incuto

Incuto Office

Credit: Shaun Flannery

Incuto is a FinTech company that works with community-based banks and credit unions to digitise their services, giving them the tools they need to transform their operations. Their online platform offers faster online applications, easy-to-use banking services and targeted communications, all while reducing costs through back-office automation. The result? Seamless customer experiences.

Incuto received a whopping £1.75 million investment in November 2020 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. It will be used to roll-out its banking platform to credit unions in the UK and beyond, with plans for an overseas expansion in the pipeline. It takes Incuto one step further towards its goal of making high-quality, low-cost financial services accessible to everyone.

Northern Bloc

Northern Bloc

Co-founded by Josh Lee and Dirk Mischendahl in 2014, Northern Bloc has become a household name. To us, they’re local favourites, award-winning ice cream makers with a knack for creating bold new flavours, but their products are now sold far and wide. In fact, you can get Northern Bloc ice cream in supermarkets across the UK, including Morrisons, Ocado and Waitrose.

Their latest creation, a range of plant-based ice creams, has gone down a treat, with supermarket sales rocketing by 60% over the past year alone. Now, with a seven-figure investment from Mobeus behind them, they’ll be able to expand on their success by developing new dairy-free flavours to cater to the ever-growing vegan market. Watch out Ben & Jerry’s.

Slingshot Simulations

Slingshot Simulations

Slingshot Simulations specialise in digital twin tech. What are digital twins, you might ask? They’re virtual models of physical environments that operate in real-time. The team at Slingshot overlay these models with datasets and run simulations to provide important insights on everything from pollution levels to workplace risks and the spread of a virus.

They’ve got big ideas about how their simulations can be used in construction, transport and manufacturing. Now, with a £1.5 million cash injection from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, they can turn these ideas into a reality and roll-out their platform to a wider range of commercial customers.