University spinout secures future with help from Yorkshire Bank

A university spinout specialising in particle science and engineering is looking to expand and invest into new markets with the support of Yorkshire Bank.

“escubed limited”’, which began as a University of Leeds startup in the university’s business incubator in 2008, has since grown into one of the country’s leading particle characterisation businesses – serving more than 100 companies nationally and globally, across a variety of sectors.

A new £50,000 overdraft facility, delivered by Andy Simpson, relationship manager at Yorkshire Bank’s Business and Private Banking Centre in Leeds, will help the firm free up capital to expand into new markets, while also allowing them to develop their R&D activities.

Operating from three premises across Leeds, escubed specialises in the creation and modification of particle systems, such as powders, creams, suspensions and pastes, and the measurement of their physical properties. Their custom research is used in a variety of ways to give their customers competitive edge through a deep understanding of the science underpinning their products, and creation of novel IP.

Customers come from all sectors and examples include pharmaceutical companies looking to optimise the efficacy of drugs, or oil and gas clients who need to understand rheology, or flow, of crude oil as it is pumped up to the surface. Recently, escubed has looked to broaden its services so it’s seen as an all-round materials characterisation business, rather than purely a particle science company.

The company was originally founded by Simon Lawson, Susanne Patel and Simon Biggs who worked together at the University of Leeds.  As the company grew, Simon Lawson resigned his position at the university to focus all his efforts on the business, taking over the role of Chief Executive Officer. Since then, the company has since gone on to employ 10 staff and is expecting to grow its headcount by 30% this year.

Commenting on the success of the business, Simon Lawson, said: “We launched the business in 2008 to meet a growing need from industry to access state-of-the-art equipment and expertise that ordinarily only resided within a university environment and was difficult to access. Whilst providing services to all sectors our initial target market was pharmaceutical testing.”

“With recent growth being driven by the oil and gas sector, the downturn in the industry negatively affected revenue and growth in 2015. However, recently we’ve been able to invest in other areas, and we’re now only the second lab in the UK to be accredited for ‘particle size analysis’ by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, which opens up a whole new revenue stream for the business.

“Funding from Yorkshire Bank has been helpful in giving us the breathing space we need to focus on expanding the business and investing in new characterisation facilities to bolster the value and future of our company.”

David Maybury, head of Yorkshire Bank’s Business and Private Banking Centre in Leeds, said: “escubed is a fine example of how an innovative university startup, with the right management, can grow into a sustainable business. The company is doing interesting work and they’re also taking the long term steps to ensure they can continue to trade and expand their service offerings.”

“We look forward to seeing the business grow in the years to come and wish them all the best. As economic conditions continue to improve, Yorkshire Bank remains committed to supporting the growth ambitions of business such as escubed.”

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