Innovation Loans: Who are the first recipients?

| Hannah Skingle

Last week, Innovate UK announced the launch of their new innovation loans, a pilot programme of loan competitions with a total of up to £50 million available for pioneering scaleups close to market. The loans offer alternative funding for those companies who have grown beyond the target business size of innovate grants, which are aimed at smaller, seed stage companies. This first round has seen 13 innovative businesses in the infrastructure industry, focusing on smart cities and transport, receive a total of £8 million. Here’s a closer look at the recipients who have been announced so far. 

Lightfoot

Lightfoot develops telematic (tracking and analysis) technology that encourages more efficient driving and aims to make the roads safer. A small unit that sits on the dashboard calculates a score for drivers, based on real-time and longer term driving efficiency. Rewards such as discounted car insurance and vehicle maintenance are offered to those who drive more safely. Lightfoot were recipients of a £562k grant from Innovate UK in 2017, which helped develop their real-time driver coaching technology and continued product testing with driver fleets. With their new Innovation loan totalling £1m, they aim to launch a consumer product in Autumn 2018.

Catagen

Headquartered in Belfast and incorporated in 2010, Catagen develops new tech to test the durability and performance of catalysts and after-treatment systems. These systems alter the emission makeup of vehicle engines to comply with relevant regulations. They attended the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme run by The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) in March 2018, and have raised £922k.

Citi Logik

Citi Logik provide big data insights to help inform city planning and infrastructure. Some of their technology includes movement and pattern analysis using anonymous mobile phone and network data, to draw conclusions about how people interact with their environment.

In 2015, software company Tracsis plc made an agreement with Citi Logik to invest a total of £1m in two equal instalments, subject to agreed milestones. However, by 2016 the milestones had not been met and the second £500k instalment was not invested. The initial investment in 2015 constitutes the majority of their total equity fundraisings, which stands at £632k.

Nevertheless, Citi Logik have strong backing from the government, having received a total of £1.5m in grants from Innovate UK before their new innovation loan.

Utonomy

Founded in 2015 and based in the University of Southampton Science Park, Utonomy aims to reduce methane gas leaks by optimising pressure in gas networks, using retrofitted controllers and cloud-software. They received a £100k Emerging & Enabling grant from Innovate UK in 2015, and reached almost £1.8m in fundraising in September 2017, with £500k from The Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund.

Alcove

Using the Internet of Things, Alcove provides a range of assistive technology that helps vulnerable people live at home independently for longer. Founded in 2014 by Hellen Bowey, Alcove has raised £305K  in equity investments so far, and £162k worth of grants from Innovate UK over the past three years. Their client base reaches Poland, France, Germany and Spain.

3-Sci

Innovate UK has already pumped £98.6k worth of grants in to 3-Sci, a company that provides a wireless monitoring system to detect the effect of corrosion and erosion on the thickness of metal walls. This product is designed for businesses who use extensive piping systems in the energy, industrial and environmental domains. The innovation loan is the first fundraising they have managed to secure.

G-Volution

Based in Newport, G-Volution develops dual-fuel engines. Their systems rely partly on diesel, and partly on natural gases like methane, which is cleaner and cheaper to burn as a fuel. The company received their first round of fundraising in 2010 and have raised a total of £1.71m through a further three rounds. They have also received five grants from Innovate UK totalling £1.39m. Their cleantech system has clearly garnered confidence in the twelve years since their inception in 2006.

Alert

Alert have developed an airborne asbestos detector which offers real-time results, indicating whether experts need to be called into the building. Following a £1.6m research and development grant in 2011, Alert have raised investments totalling £1.71m.

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