Sigmavision, which has developed an innovative tool to check the safety of vehicle tyres, has been awarded £1m funding to help roll it out to the global automotive aftersales market.
The Oxfordshire company has developed the TreadReaderTM handheld scanner which slides along the surface of tyres and uses 3D scanning technology to accurately measure tread depth and tyre wear on all vehicles.
Sigmavision, based in Bicester, initially supplied its technology to a major garage equipment engineering firm but has now launched the TreadReaderTM product range into the wider market, receiving strong interest from tyre manufacturers, garage equipment suppliers and road safety organisations.
It secured funding from the MEIF Proof-of-Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and managed by Mercia Fund managers, along with funds from private investors.
This funding will give the company the working capital it needs to deliver on customer orders and to further develop the product’s capabilities.
Dr Andrew Pryce, Sigmavision’s Managing Director, said: “3D tyre measurement offers major benefits for the global automotive aftermarket and our aim is to make it the de facto industry standard. The funding will allow us to rapidly scale production capacity, set up a global sales and aftersales department and accelerate product development.”
Ken Cooper, MD at the British Business Bank added: “One of the objectives of the MEIF is to support fast growing small businesses just like Sigmavision. It’s great to see Midlands companies taking up the opportunities offered by the MEIF to develop new products, scale up and target expansion.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
It comes as Mercia invested £13.3m in Midlands businesses in 2018 which is up from £11.3m the previous year.
Sigmavision was one of 22 companies to receive investment alongside other such as Coventry-based Arc Vehicle, which has developed a new electric motorbike; Birmingham-based battery technology firm Aceleron and Adapttech which has found a new way to fit artificial limbs.
Mercia, which is based in Henley-in-Arden, manages funds including the £23.0m Proof-of-Concept and Early Stage Equity Fund, part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.
During the year, the group invested £59.7m in total throughout the UK, with more than 90 per cent of it going to businesses outside of London and the South East. It also increased its third-party funds under management from £350m to over £400m at 31 December.
Growing by around 30 per cent a year, Mercia now has over 80 employees in eight locations nationwide and partnerships with 19 regional universities including Birmingham, Aston, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Coventry, Leicester, Keele, Warwick and Birmingham City University.
Mark Payton, Chief Executive of Mercia Technologies PLC, said: “Regional cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Edinburgh are increasingly important technology hubs, however venture capital remains heavily focused on London. Mercia has offices in all of these locations and as these latest figures show, it is addressing this shortfall by sourcing and backing exceptional businesses across the UK’s regions. Building on a successful 2018, I expect Mercia to continue to scale its activities into 2019.”