COMPANIES: Animmersion to Sensyne

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on December 10, 2018, 9:00 am in News, Other

IMAGE: courtesy of from Pexels



ultrasound in VR – fuel cell technology - cash handling equipment - crazy golf - digital visualisation

- appliance repairs - wallpaper maker - board games –

insolvency litigation - healthcare technology -


Bristol :: Sussex :: Oldham :: London x 4 :: Middlesbrough :: Sunderland :: Oxford


Ultrahaptics £1.1m | Ceres Power  £6.3m | Innovative Technology £39.7m | Competitive Socialising £9m  | Animmersion £1m | Pacifica Group  £27.2m | Osborne & Little £32.1m |  Big Potato Games £4.5m  | Manolete | Sensyne Health


News about 10 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 25th November – 8th December 2018:



ULTRAHAPTICS: ultrasound in VR - Bristol

Ultrahaptics raises £35m for expansion | Peter Evans The Sunday Times. December 2 2018

DZ profile: Ultrahaptics Limited

Business: start-up that is developing technology to allow users to experience sensory feeling in virtual reality - uses ultrasound to create seemingly real 3D objects that can be “felt” in virtual reality. The idea came from co-founder Tom Carter’s PhD studies at Bristol University. clients include car makers and game developers.

Launched: 2013

Location: Bristol, UK; Palo Alto, California, US; Seoul, South Korea

Founder: Tom Carter, 30 chief technology officer.

Staff: chaired by the former Telecity boss Michael Tobin

Financials: Last year made a pre-tax loss of £3m on sales of £1.1m

Investment: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL spinout. Is expected to be valued at more than £150m after a £35m funding round, which was led by MAYFAIR EQUITY PARTNERS and included the Australian pension fund HOSTPLUS. Existing backers IP GROUP, WOODFORD INVESTMENT, CORNES and DOLBY FAMILY VENTURES also took part in the oversubscribed series C raise. Mayfair has invested in the energy provider OVO and digital marketing business SUPERAWESOME as well as the restaurant chain YO! SUSHI. Has now raised more than £60m and is considering a public listing. The series C round is its largest raise yet at double the size of last year’s B series. LSE-listed IP Group held 37.9% of Ultrahaptics as of December 2017.

Bristol scaleup Ultrahaptics buys US augmented reality rival for $30m | Emily Nicolle, City A.M. 30 May 2019
1. ….raised £35m in a funding round late last yea, and has raised over £50m since its founding as a spin-off from the University of Bristol in 2013.
2. San Francisco-based LEAP MOTION, which specialises in hand-tracking technology, will join Ultrahaptics, bringing over its staff and technology to the combined group. The two companies had been partnered for almost six years before the tie-up. Once said to be in discussions with Apple about joining the firm … has raised more than $94m (£74m) in funding to date, from major backers including ANDREESSEN HOROWITZ. It was valued at $306m at its peak several years ago, before pivoting to launch an augmented reality headset last year.



CERES POWER: fuel cell technology - Sussex

Fuel cell spinout Ceres Power wins China backing | Rachel Millard, The Sunday Times. December 2 2018

DZ profile: Ceres Power Holdings Plc

Business: “fuel cell technology and engineering company whose aim is to bring cleaner and cheaper energy to businesses, homes and vehicles.” Is working on extending the range of hybrid electric buses in Chinese cities.

Launched: 2004

Location: Horsham, West Sussex; Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea.

Founder: co-founder Professor Brian Steele conducted pioneering work on fuel cells at Imperial College London.

Financials: to 30-Jun-18: Revenue £6.3m; Pre-Tax -£11.89m

Investment: AIM-listed Ceres Imperial College London spin-out. WEICHAI POWER, whose other investments include the Italian yacht maker FERRETTI, took a 10% stake in the company for about £17m in May and is now expected to take a seat on the board of the fuel-cell maker under plans that will help commercialise Ceres’s technology and boost its market position in China. Weichai, listed in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, is capitalised at $60bn ($47bn). It is backed by the state-owned heavy equipment and engines conglomerate Weichai Holdings. Ceres also has a tie-up with BOSCH, which holds a 4.4% stake.



INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY: cash handling equipment - Oldham

Coin king started up at 63 — to take on his old employer | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 2 2018

DZ profile: Innovative Technology Limited

Business: makes banknote handlers used in betting terminals, self-checkouts and vending machines development of new products that will include facial and age recognition cameras for bookmakers and supermarket tills.

Launched: 1991

Location: Oldham + Italy, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, China, USA, Australia

Founder: David Bellis, 80. Ex-founder of COIN CONTROLS was born, which floated in 1983, and is now owned by an American conglomerate

Staff: 400 people in Britain, Brazil and China, half of them in Oldham

Financials: made pre-tax profits of £3.1m on sales of £39.7m last year.

Investment: Bellis owns 60%, with managers and other senior staff holding the balance.




Baseball backer pitches for Swingers crazy golf brand | The Sunday Times. November 25 2018

DZ profile: Competitive Socialising Limited (Swingers)

Business: Swingers brand combines indoor golf, street food and cocktails. Its first venue opened in 2016 in a Second World War bunker in the City. A second site has opened in the former BHS flagship store on Oxford Street.

Launched: 2014

Location: London

Founders: Matt Grech-Smith, 38, and Jeremy Simmonds, 35

Financials: annual sales of about £9m

Investment: investment from CAIN INTERNATIONAL - whose parent company, ELDRIDGE INDUSTRIES, backs the LA Dodgers baseball team - is understood to be worth about £28m and will be used to open a venue in America.



Wanted: new talent to cross the Tees | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. November 25 2018


ANIMMERSION: digital visualisation - Middlesbrough

DZ profile: Animmersion Uk Ltd

Business: designs digital visualisation tools for clients such as food giants MONDELEZ and SAINSBURY’S. Specialises in virtual and augmented reality experiences. Clients include some of the companies based along the Tees in the old shipyards …using manufacturing skills developed in the shipbuilding industry to develop products for sectors including offshore

Launched: 2005

Location: Middlesbrough

Founder: Dominic Lusardi, managing director

Staff: 20

Financials: turnover is above £1m

News: has started expanding rapidly in the past few years. Since 2010, its workforce has risen from two to twenty, while. However, its main barrier to further growth is finding staff with the right skills.



PACIFICA GROUP: appliance repairs - Sunderland

DZ profile: Pacifica Group Limited

Business: company provides home services and repairs for appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers

Launched: 2005

Location: Houghton le Spring, near Sunderland

Staff: 480. Kevin Brown, managing director

Financials: sales of £27.2m last year

News: because it has struggled to attract technically skilled repair staff … Pacifica has built its own training school. It has so far taken about 40 people — many of them adult learners — through a course that lasts from six months to three years. The move has allowed the company to broaden the range of jobseekers it considers hiring — meaning it no longer relies entirely on finding experienced engineers.



OSBORNE & LITTLE: wallpaper maker - London

George Osborne’s family wallpaper firm blames Brexit wobbles for loss | Louis Ashworth, City A.M. 26 November 2018

DZ profile: Osborne & Little Limited

Business: high-end fabric and wallpaper maker

Launched: 1967

Location: London

Founders: Sir Peter Osborne, Managing Director, father of former chancellor George Osborne; Antony Little.

Financials: year ended 31 March - loss before tax of £350,000 on a turnover of £32.1m. It claimed margins had been hit by investment in product development. Sales for the full year dropped by 5 per cent overall – down 12 per cent in the UK, but with a smaller fall in its US and European markets. In 2016, it made a £73,000 profit on a turnover of £33.7m. The company has not paid out a dividend since 2015, when George Osborne – then still in the cabinet – received part of a £335,000 payout.



BIG POTATO GAMES:  board games - London

Big Potato Games trio who rolled the dice after rejecting the Dragons | Joanna Bourke, The Evening Standard. 26 November 2018

DZ profile: Big Potato Limited (Big Potato Games) 

Business: creates and distributes more than 20 board games. Its goods, such as doodling competition Scrawl and honesty contest Truth Bombs, are sold online and stocked by retailers including OLIVER BONAS and JOHN LEWIS.

Launched: 2014

Location: Shoreditch

Founder: Dean Tempest, Ben Drummond and Tristan Hyatt-Williams made their first invention, Linkee, in 2012 while working at advertising firm IRIS.

Staff: 18

Financials: is on track for a 50% sales increase this year to £4.5m

Investment: The founders invested £40,000 of their own money.


1. The founders appeared on TV show Dragons’ Den in 2013 and were offered £50,000 for a 40% stake by Duncan Bannatyne. They turned it down. That appearance led to huge demand for Linkee, and the team struggled to cope with orders …so agreed for a third party to licence the game, giving them exclusive UK distribution rights. They then decided to launch Big Potato Games, which is named after Linkee’s original title.

2. Big Potato Games says next year its games should be stocked in 27 countries, up from the 11 where they can be found at present.



MANOLETE: insolvency litigation - London

Litigation funder Manolete raises £29m for London IPO |Barney Thompson, FT. December 1, 2018

DZ profile: Manolete Partners Plc

Business: UK Insolvency litigation funding specialist that buys up complex legal cases from collapsed businesses. Has taken on more than 220 cases since its formation in 2009. These include successful claims against NETWORK RAIL, several FTSE 350 companies, global financial institutions and international hotel groups – all on behalf of insolvent companies. Is unusual among litigation funders, which typically back legal disputes in return for a share of any settlement or damages award, in that it purchases claims outright and focuses exclusively on one sector: insolvency-related claims in the UK. By buying claims outright, it says it is able to take greater control of the running of a legal dispute. As a result, its cases last on average less than 12 months, significantly faster than many other types of complex commercial battles. As of September, Manolete had invested in 249 cases, of which 173 had completed, resulting in gross recoveries of £27.9m. It reported annual returns on investment of approximately 200 per cent. Insolvency disputes often relate to the recovery of directors’ unpaid loans, breach of contract, misfeasance or director negligence, illegal dividends and wrongful trading.

Launched: 2019

Location: London

Founders: former HSBC banker Steven Cooklin, chief executive and Michael Faulkner

Investment: has raised £29.4m for an IPO on AIM in December. Messrs Cooklin and Faulkner own 19.3 and 13.4 per cent respectively; Jon Moulton, one of the UK’s best-known private equity investors owns 26.6 per cent.

News: Prominent Manolete cases include a 2016 claim against the television presenter Anthea Turner over the collapse of her former husband’s business, and a dispute it acquired the same year against the defence equipment company COBHAM. It also took over a claim from an insolvent bingo hall operator against HASTINGS BOROUGH COUNCIL for loss of profit caused by the council’s decision to close Hastings pier, a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, ending in Manolete’s favour.





Nimble biotechs become vital partners for large pharma groups | Sarah Neville, FT. December 1, 2018


SENSYNE HEALTH: healthcare technology - Oxford

DZ profile: Sensyne Health Plc 

Business: Artificial Intelligence platform to analyse UK patient data and discover more relevant drugs.  Also provides hospitals with its software to collate data and is looking to form partnerships with pharma companies. Participating hospitals have equity in the company and earn a royalty on the revenues it generates

Launched: 2017

Location: Oxford

Founder: Paul Drayson, entrepreneur and Labour party peer

Investment: Floated on AIM August 2018. Shareholders: Lord & Lady Drayson 29.1%, WOODFORD INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT 20.0%, LANDSDOWNE PARTNERS 10.4%, HARGREAVE HALE LIMITED 5.2%, OUH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 4.4%