Reading-based drone company Operational Solutions secures £8 million BGF investment

OSL Patrol Drone

BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active growth capital investor, has made an £8 million investment in Operational Solutions Ltd (OSL), a leading counter drone technologies business based in Reading. 

OSL helps major international airports, national infrastructure projects and defence markets tackle the growing challenges posed by the increasing prevalence of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS” or “drones”) in airspaces around the world.

The company’s proprietary intelligent software platform, FACETM, integrates real-time data from different sensors to detect, track, identify and manage drones and other objects within a single operating picture. The company has contracts with Heathrow and Gatwick airports and provides support to the UK Ministry of Defence. It has recently signed a global cooperation agreement with Thales, the global aerospace, air traffic management and defence systems company, to provide combined solutions into a range of markets.

It is predicted that as many as 76,000 drones will be in use across the UK by 2030 by private, commercial and government users in new applications and varied settings. This rapid growth will increase demand for drone detection and counter-drone capabilities to manage the airspace around key locations safely and effectively.

Founded in 2010, OSL currently employs around 70 people throughout the UK. Following BGF’s investment, the company plans to expand its recruitment programme, with new roles spread across R&D, engineering and business development.

Operational Solutions Ltd CEO Mark Legh-Smith said: “This significant investment in our business is set to fast-track OSL’s growth ambitions. As well as creating new possibilities for our customers and providing job creation, we are looking forward to the strategic input and guidance from BGF’s Reading-based team.

“Our competitive edge is in being agile and adapting more rapidly than other operators in our sector to the ever-evolving challenges and opportunities that are presented by drones. We chose BGF because they can support us with invaluable insight and expertise to strengthen and accelerate our expansion across other markets, in the UK and internationally.”

Liam Pursall, investor at BGF, added: “We are extremely excited to be working with the OSL team. Their market-leading technology, combined with a highly knowledgeable and experienced management team, offers significant growth potential in this fast-moving market. The inevitable and well-documented rise in the use of drones in the coming years will necessitate a clearly defined counter-drone and drone management proposition. Building on its first mover advantage, OSL is well positioned to help shape the counter drone landscape in the UK and beyond, and we look forward to supporting the business as it builds on the impressive growth trajectory achieved to date.”

Herrington Carmichael acted as legal adviser to BGF, and Wilson Partners provided financial due diligence

Lincoln International acted as exclusive corporate finance adviser to OSL, Field Seymour Parkes served as legal adviser, and KPMG provided financial due diligence.