May 2016

Brighton-based Polystream raises $1.5m for game streaming tech

Scattered Videogames Gamepads of Many Brands

Polystream, the Brighton-based game streaming startup, has raised $1.5m seed-stage funding in a round led by London Ventures Partners and Initial Capital. The company will use the funding to launch a a HD streaming solution for games and 3D applications.

“We are transforming the world of ordinary linear video into an extraordinary interactive experience”, says Polystream CEO Bruce Gove, “completely redefining both the technology and the business of application streaming.

“Having the backing and support of London Venture Partners and Initial Capital shows huge confidence in what we’re achieving, and we’re incredibly excited to be working with these great partners.”

This is Polystream’s second equity fundraising, after a £100k investment in February last year. David Lau-Kee, general partner at London Venture Partners praised the company’s progress over the last year:

“Polystream’s progress has been exceptional, and we’re more convinced than ever that they have the tech and team to deliver app cloud streaming that actually works, economically and in UltraHD quality. What they are delivering is transformative, and so of course we’re going to double-down.”

British Business Bank launches £30m growth pot

Grungy UK flag, retro paper texture

Announced back in 2015 by David Cameron, the British Business Bank has now launched the first phase of its Help to Grow scheme. The first phase will see £30m of loans made available through Lloyds Banking Group, and is part of a wider movement to facilitate £100m of growth loans over the next two years.

“The lending will be available to businesses across all sectors, and is expected to benefit most those with high levels of innovation and growth ambition – such as manufacturing businesses, creative industries and the technology sector,”  said Keith Morgan, British Business Bank CEO.

“Encouraging and supporting UK businesses to scale-up can be deemed an important milestone,” Morgan added. “We want to replicate the drive and dynamism evident in the UK’s startup culture in later stages of the small business journey, and ‘Help To Grow’ has a critical role to play in achieving that.”

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen enthused:

“The EIF’s collaboration with the British Business Bank – which is supported by the Investment Plan for Europe – is very important. The UK is full of innovative startups and small business bosses which require a helping hand to grow their companies, and today’s news will certainly help many aspirations become a reality.”

TransferWise scoops $26m investment

Travel, services and international business management concept with a globe and international flags of the world on white background.

London-based Transferwises, the international money transfer platform, has received $26m investment in a round led by Baille Gifford. Andreessen Horowitz, Valar Ventures, and Sir Richard Branson also contributed to the round – which brings TransferWise’s total funding to $117m.

“After just five years, we’ve seen how much TransferWise can help people who need to move money internationally”, says Taavet Hinrikus, Transferwise CEO and co-founder. “People are now moving £500m every month on TransferWise, that means they’re saving themselves over £22m”.

Baille Gifford investment manager Peter Singlehurst was enthusiastic about the investment:

“We’re delighted to have invested in TransferWise. Its success to date shows how badly served consumers have been in the past and the real need for what TransferWise offers. The company’s plans for the future are very exciting and the founders have built up an awesome team to deliver them”.

High-flying Stratagem lands $8m funding

Businessmen shaking hands in front of corporate jet on ramp

London-based Uber of the airways Statajet has completed a $8m fundraising. Led by Octopus Ventures, the round was also backed by Playfair Capital, JamJam Investments. The investment brings the private jet booking platform’s total funding to $14m.

A spokesperson for Stratagem has revealed the funding will be used develop London headquarters.

“This additional round of investment comes at an extremely exciting time for Stratajet” says Jonny Nicol, Stratajet founder and CEO. “Following a successful launch in Europe last month we are seeing unprecedented numbers of flight quotes being generated across the platform, which proves how effective our system can be at giving a wider range of travellers access to the private jet industry”.

Malcolm Ferguson, early stage investor for Octopus Ventures, enthused:

“We’re dedicated at Octopus to supporting unusually talented teams. Today’s announcement is another break-through for what we believe to be a very exciting business. Stratajet’s platform streamlines the private jet booking process, enabling consumers to attain real-time, bookable flight prices on private jets.”

He added: “their platform has the potential to increase efficiency for operators and save money for travellers, making private jet travel a realistic alternative to business class”.

Facebook snaps-up Edinburgh startup Two Big Ears

iStock_000040126052_SmallTwo Big Ears, the University of Edinburgh spinout developing virtual reality audio tech, has been acquired by Facebook for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2013 by Abesh Thakur, and Varun Nair, the startup creates ‘technology and design that helps you to see through your ears’. In 2015, Two Big Ears played an integral role in creating a 360-degree virtual reality music video for Icelandic singer Björk.

“Our mission is to make VR audio succeed across all devices and platforms and continue to help creators make the best experiences for billions of people across the world” says CEO Thakur. “Thank you to our customers, partners and investors, including board members George Elliott and Neil Heywood, the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Enterprise and everybody who has been with us on this amazing journey. We look forward to advancing our mission – and continuing our work with you – from Facebook.”

Commenting on the progress of VR tech, Mark Zuckerberg has said: “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.”

SyndicateRoom completes £3.1m round

financingSyndicateRoom, the ‘investor-led equity crowdfunding platform’ has completed a £3.1m equity fundraising. The investment was led by angel Jonathan Milner, and received backing from Unicorn AIM VCT. A spokesperson for SyndicateRoom has revealed the funding will be used to help the platform expand across other equity markets, and hire more staff.

“We are building the most successful and efficient incremental distribution platform for companies to raise equity investment at all stages of their equity journey, from idea to IPO” says SyndicateRoom co-founder and CEO Goncalo de Vasconalos. 

“To have such strong demand from both retail and institutional investors is the strongest vote of confidence we could have regarding our expansion plans within crowdfunding and equity capital markets. I am hugely excited about the times ahead of SyndicateRoom and its potential to become a billion dollar business”.

Lead investor Jonathan Milner – co-founder of Abcam – enthused: “SyndicateRoom’s growth since it launched in 2013 has been absolutely phenomenal. A number of ingredients have combined to achieve this – from superb leadership and brilliant company culture, to investor demand and desire for growth from UK companies. The time is now for smart equity crowdfunding and SyndicateRoom”.

Belfast opens arms to tech startups

iStock_000005478668_SmallBelfast-based accelerator StartPlanetNI is looking for fast growing tech startups to join its new three month programme.

Beginning in September, the programme is offering 10 innovative companies £15k investment in exchange for a 6% equity stake. There will also be the opportunity for participants to receive a full £40k in follow-on funding after completing the programme.

The programme is open to young tech startups that have been trading for less than two years. Half of the spaces are reserved for Northern Irish companies; the rest are open to startups world wide.

“We know that for many international start-ups a UK foothold is important, as is access to the wider European market” says lead mentor of StartPlanetNI Bill Liao. “So we believe StartPlanetNI is well placed to attract some of the hottest new businesses to Belfast, who will in turn help build a stronger local start-up scene.”

The deadline for StartPlanet NI is 27th May. Apply here.

Sadiq Khan vows to be “most pro-business” mayor yet

Bar graph rising“From day one, my approach will be to form a true partnership with business” were the words of Sadiq Kahn, having beaten the Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith to become London mayor.

“I will take an active role in helping to break down the obstacles holding London’s firms back and affecting their competitiveness” he added. “As someone who helped to run and grow a business before becoming a MP, I know the challenges many in the business community face and the importance of politicians working closely with business”.

Khan, who has been Labour MP for Tooting since 2005, has also served as minister of state for transport. His three main commitments to businesses include: creating a Business Advisory Board to identify and remove growth challenges of companies, bringing in a Skills for Londoners scheme to help promote scaling, and working with local authorities to prevent business space losses.

Khan also vowed: “as major, I will work with all of these groups and many others to deliver the infrastructure and skills the capital needs, campaign for increased aviation capacity in London, and champion London at home and abroad”.

CFOs back Cameron’s bid to stay in EU

flag of European Union or Europe banner on rough pattern metal background

According to recent findings by Deloitte, CFOs are blaming business uncertainty on the euro crisis.

“A fog of uncertainty has descended on the corporate sector”, says Ian Stewart, Deloitte chief economist. “Perceptions of financial and economic uncertainty are back to levels last seen in early 2013 as the euro crisis abated”.

A Deloitte survey found that 83 per cent of CFOs now see the level of uncertainty facing their business as ‘above normal, high or very high’ – the worst reading for three years.

“This is due to there being a period of prolonged uncertainty about the tax regulatory, legal and trading relationships in the even of a Brexit” Steward added. “We’ve seen in the last ten years that this kind of uncertainty can be associated with a drying-up of liquidity, volatility in the financial markets, a decline in risk appetite and a decline in the value of assets”.

Of the 120 UK CFOs questioned by Deloitte, 75 per cent believed a Brexit would be detrimental for UK firms. Just 8 percent answered that a UK companies would benefit from leaving the EU.

RocketSpace announces first London campus

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RocketSpace, the San Francisco accelerator whose alumni include Uber, Blippar, and Spotify, has announced plans for a London tech campus.

The new campus, which will be designed specifically for fast-growing tech startups, will reportedly have capacity for up to 1,500 members.

“London’s tech community continues to rapidly expand and drive innovation”, says Duncan Logan. “Creating a physical presence here is critical to our expansion strategy and mission to build an ecosystem for innovation to thrive, across a global network of campuses. We are very excited about working with London’s tech entrepreneurs, who are creating some of the most disruptive technologies of the future”.

Kevin Hanley, RBS director of design, enthused about partnering with RocketSpace.

“RocketSpace will be housed in a building that we own in Angel. This will enable us to develop closer, deeper relationships with some of the startups; the companies we believe will be shaping the digital economy in the UK”.

RocketSpace is due to open its London campus in early 2017.