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Early stage investment provides catalyst for growth

Early stage investment from Finance Yorkshire is helping to develop and nurture some of the region’s most innovative and successful companies.

The Seedcorn Fund provides investment of up to £780,000 in businesses which are developing new technology-based solutions which have the potential to disrupt their chosen markets.

Two companies that received Seedcorn funding from Finance Yorkshire hit the headlines after listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and growing their market values considerably.

Xeros Technology Group plc is the Sheffield-based business behind a new bead-based cleaning technology which results in significant savings on water, energy and detergent while at the same time delivering improved cleaning results.

Finance Yorkshire made three investments in Xeros totalling £1.45m. The company, led by CEO Bill Westwater, floated with a market capitalisation of £80m and has more than doubled its share price to 260p.

Xeros had just three employees in 2009, but now has more than 70 staff across the UK, US and China. It recently announced a deal with German specialty chemicals business LANXESS, which will see its technology applied to the leather processing industry.

York-based OptiBiotix Health plc listed on AIM when its market value was £6m, and in just 12 months that has risen to over £27m. Finance Yorkshire invested £520,000, helping to create the life sciences business from an idea to develop products to tackle obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. OpitBiotix filed a suite of five patents for its products ahead of its flotation.

Julian Viggars, investment director, Seedcorn Fund, said: “Our portfolio includes some of the most exciting science and technology based businesses in the UK. Investing in these businesses requires specialist knowledge and a long term approach as value is not created overnight.

“We have nurtured Xeros and OptiBiotix from the very start and continue to support them. A listing was once seen as providing an exit for venture capitalists but we are successfully using the public markets to provide businesses with additional investment capital to continue their long term growth.

“As Xeros and OptiBiotix have experienced, a listing is also very effective in raising a company’s profile to both a national and global audience and to attract the very best management talent.”

Finance Yorkshire’s investments to date have created and safeguarded 10,196 jobs across Yorkshire and the Humber, increased turnover by £309 million and generated private sector leverage of £179 million.

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

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Stephen O’Hara, CEO of OptiBiotix with Alex McWhirter, chief executive of Finance Yorkshire

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