News Archive

PowerPhotonic widens market reach

The following article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Young Company Finance Scotland (www.ycfscotland.co.uk) and is re-published here with their kind permission.

PowerPhotonic has secured further funding of £2 million from existing investors Archangels, TRI Cap, and the Scottish Investment Bank, to help it build on its entry into new market sectors.

PowerPhotonic uses laser micro-machining for the manufacturing of precision micro-optics products, with the objective of ‘enhancing beam performance’ to achieve higher brightness, more power-efficient and more compact laser applications. Such products have traditionally been manufactured using lithography, micro-grinding and micro-moulding, but these processes are slow, expensive, and inflexible.

The PowerPhotonic manufacturing process is instead based on a laser system that shapes and then smooths the refractive surface of fused silica glass. This gives unprecedented flexibility to create a complete range of standard products including slow and fast axis collimators, lens arrays, beam shapers, transformers and correctors. These advantages apply not only to PowerPhotonic’s’ standard products, but are also leveraged in its custom design and manufacturing service using the LightForge™ rapid fabrication system.

The company’s first customers were mainly diode manufacturers in the US defence sector, with some industrial clients in Europe and the USA. Challenged by its investors to show that it could expand sales significantly by addressing other markets, the company has spent the last couple of years establishing a presence in other sectors, including materials processing, medical systems, optical communications, and big science.

How was this achieved? According to chairman Clovis Younger, the main approach was increase the pace of customer interactions dramatically. As well as creating a more robust sales and marketing function internally, the company engaged distribution and surrogate sales channels to increase not only the number and frequency of customer contacts but also to expand its reach to address a global customer base. PowerPhotonic also developed a suite of standard products that enable it to showcase its unique technology more effectively and help translate the benefits of the technology into the customer’s language. Often this required an explanation of the way in which the PowerPhotonic technology could create products that solve real world problems, problems that cannot easily be addressed using traditional manufacturing techniques. For example, where fibre lasers are routinely used for cutting steel in manufacturing industry, PowerPhotonic have developed a suite of “beam shapers” that change the shape and distribution of the laser beam. This enables customers to use the laser for additional tasks such as welding and heat treating, significantly improving return on investment for the laser.

Where necessary, PowerPhotonic’s design team was called on to develop new products which could be demonstrated to open buyers’ minds to the potential benefits available. It was also necessary to establish and build an effective sales and marketing operation, and in 2013 the company appointed Julian Hayes, previously with Wolfson Microelectronics and Elonics, to head this aspect of the business.

The new funding will be used to further increase product development, manufacturing, and sales & marketing capabilities. As well as strengthening its business in its traditional customer base in North America and Europe, PowerPhotonic is looking to grow in the telecommunications and industrial materials processing markets, particularly in South East Asia.

Dr Roy McBride, PowerPhotonic’s chief executive, said “We’ve already proved that we can produce the highest quality optics for laser applications in a number of sectors here in Europe, in the US and in Asia Pacific. This new investment in the business will accelerate our growth plans, allowing us to take on additional staff to expand our product development, manufacturing and sales activities.”

The TRIM Course

Stuart_RichardsonThe TRIM Course is an invaluable tool for life, identifying ‘the practical links between motivation and achievement’. TRI Cap founding director Stuart Richardson first created this highly-recommended time management system over forty years ago and has continued to develop it ever since. He has been delivering TRIM courses to businesses around the UK for 15 years, and, in this long-awaited book, he encapsulates the course content for a new audience.

Written in a deceptively simple style, with colourful graphics and illustrations, The TRIM Course book starts out by helping to identify realistic but ambitious personal life goals. Through the step-by-step chapters it then builds up a system which develops into a highly personalised, sophisticated time management tool for all aspects of our working and personal lives. With long term North Pole goals always at its heart, Weekly Helicopter Trips keep these goals to the fore. But the system also details a simple way to replace ‘to do’ lists and diaries in the form of a daily Terrain Map to help navigate through both the expected and the unexpected events of any day.

There are sections on priority setting, information storage and retrieval, getting the most from meetings, how to manage interactions and, perhaps most importantly, how to manage personal relationships and planning. The book provides a basis for a motivated, simple and stress-free life; a useful gift for a young person starting out on their first job or a friend who is struggling with pressure.

Copies of The TRIM Course by Stuart Richardson are available from abmtrim.com as either a hard copy at £12.99 or in digital format at £8.99.

TRICAPITAL LTD – TENTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – MARCH 3RD 2015

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

INVESTMENT HIGHLIGHTS

TRI Cap’s tenth year in operation has been one more of consolidation in terms of supporting existing investments than progress in terms of adding new investments to our already large portfolio.  During the year our members subscribed £197K in three new investee companies Ryboquin (twice), Sistemic and Pure LiFi and their investment taken together with our co-investors totalled some £820K.    Follow on funding was into 8 companies. Border Precision, Inquisitive Systems, Blackford Analysis, Fios, MyILogIn, Touchbionics, Design LED and MGB totalled £394K and additionally some £708K was loaned to GSS, Factonomy, Design LED and Border Precision. So the funds invested or loaned by TC members totalled some £1.3M during the year as part of an investment contribution of nearly £10M overall from ourselves and our co-investors – a substantial increase on recent years. On the flip side we had our disappointments with Factonomy being sold on to Sentronex for little present value and 4th Aspect heading for administration. More positively the Sphinx management are to be congratulated on keeping the business afloat (and without recourse to further funding) and several other businesses continue to progress satisfactorily in what remains a far from easy economic background.

EXITS

While many businesses have progressed, it is disappointing that none actually achieved a profitable Exit during the year. It is true we had a near miss with Touchbionics and its planned IPO in early October which had to be pulled at the very last minute when the market suffered a sudden downturn. Another week, another month and things might have been very different! We were also encouraged to see Novabiotics achieve a substantial inward investment on attractive terms.    Other businesses continue to work towards Exit but after ten years in the game we can see that such events are now more likely within eight to ten years of initial investment than the three to four years so enthusiastically predicted by many of our earlier presenters. And we also know that we are not alone in finding this process difficult – in spite of the amount of cash held by many major institutions they have also become increasingly risk averse – an issue that seems to apply most markedly in the Life Science area where lack of a quick disposal invariably leads to calls for additional capital.

ADMINISTRATION

We face an increasing administrative burden arising from the current size of our portfolio and the issues which arise from it, both from the Investee Companies themselves and from dealing with membership communications. Whilst  the practical burden of this is shared between Kathy Greenwood, Andy Purves and his colleagues and increasingly various TRI Cap members, the lynch pin of this activity for the past 10 years has been Gillian Robertson who, in her battle with cancer, shows great fortitude and remarkable courage. We send our warmest condolences to Gillian in her illness whilst also offering our most sincere thanks for her strength of character and all she has contributed to TRI Cap’s development and operations over the past years.

In December we said a warm thank you and goodbye to Eileen Prior who under Stuart Richardson’s patient guidance has handled the TRI Cap PR and website organisation for the past several years with calm efficiency and creativity. We wish her well in her new role and have pleasure in welcoming in her stead Julia Wailes-Fairbairn – already well experienced in this field – and with the advantage of being married to a TRI Cap member.

FINANCIAL RESULTS

Financially we had another satisfactory year – turnover increased to £135k (2013 £126K) – but with a lower than expected net contribution from LINC a small loss of £17 was sustained (2013 Profit £7K). Members funds at the year end were a healthy enough £92K (2013 £114K) but with uncertainty remaining over future LINC contributions and the expectation of a lower level of deal flow in 2015 the TRI Cap Board is mindful of its responsibilities and will budget accordingly.

MEMBERSHIP AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Overall net membership at 60 increased marginally during the year and meetings continue to be well attended and remarkably positive in outlook despite a degree of ‘investor fatigue’ amongst some long-standing members. We continue to be enormously grateful for the support provided by those members who are involved in various elements of TRI Cap activities, and for limited reward. During the past year members have enjoyed the usual round of TRI Cap social activities and in September at the Hirsel we had in Gavin Stevenson a new winner of the Chairman’s Golf Trophy. He should be congratulated on his success with the golf club on top of his many and varied business activities. But the social highlight of the year was the Reception held at Abbotsford Visitor Centre in early December when amongst a large gathering of members, their wives and partners, representatives of Investee Companies and of our co-Investors we celebrated the TRI Cap 10th Anniversary. The enjoyable evening which was generously sponsored by MBM (Commercial) and Purves Chartered Accountants (and with champagne donated by Ranworth Capital) provided the ideal opportunity to warmly thank the many people too numerous to mention here who have contributed so much to the development and success of TRI Cap since its inception in 2004.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH INVESTEE COMPANIES

The Monitoring Group, diligently lead by Walter Riddell-Carre, has continued its sterling work and we remain grateful for the satisfactory flow of information from Investee Companies for which credit must go to our group of NXDs and Observers for their continued support in this important area of activity. However the year has also brought an increased focus on our relationship with our co-investors and where problems with an Investee Company occurs this is where the strength of our links and our ability to work together jointly towards solving problems becomes of great importance. This was no better illustrated than at Factonomy where a long campaign of activity involving TRI Cap, two other investment groups and Scottish Enterprise came together to try and retain some value for investors.

THE BOARD CORE AND MEETING STRUCTURES

After ten years it is appropriate to review our original management and meeting structures and to consider whether they continue to be fit for purpose or whether some changes are desirable. In this process we are grateful to Gavin Stevenson and our legal advisors for their guidance in formulating some proposals which will be the subject of considerable consultation amongst the membership before any changes are implemented.

Meanwhile in furtherance of continued refreshment of the board, Ian Douglas has stepped down and Walter Riddell-Carre has stepped up to take his place. We are grateful to Ian for the perceptive and forthright guidance which he has brought to our deliberations and grateful too that he will continue in his important roles as Chairman at Turnbull & Scott and at Border Precision and we wish him very well in these important and demanding tasks. Ahead of our management review we do not propose any changes now to the Core membership – but with a view to the future, active steps are being taken to encourage a flow of new blood into our management activities.

LOOKING AHEAD

We at TRI Cap are blessed with a strong administrative Team, an enthusiastic Board and Core – and a very supportive Membership who, we should remind ourselves, are the true owners of this now 10 year old business. During that time we have been successful in building up a portfolio of Investee Companies through the medium of Angel Investing. We have had our successes, modest as they have so far been, and we have helped to build some potentially successful companies. Sadly we have had a few failures but that is the nature of the game in which we are involved – and at least partly why the Government provides such attractive tax breaks for investors. We are challenged now to build on the success to date, to ensure the profitable progress of the businesses in which members are invested – and to create and support the opportunities for successful Exits which is a key element of membership. I assure you that the Board will make every necessary effort to further these aims and meantime give everyone involved our most grateful thanks for all the hard work of the past year.

LINC angels complete a record year

Investments by members of the LINC Scotland business angel association totalled over £18 million in 2014, an all time high.

The 2014 figures include a number of unusually large angel investments. This reflects the pattern of investment in the market as whole (ie including VC and other institutional investors, and corporate venturers) which is also greatly affected by the number of very large details in a particular period, meaning that the totals are likely to fluctuate from year to year.

The previous year, 2013, had shown a slight decline in investment from the pattern of the preceding years, but the 2014 statistics show impressive increases when compared with the average of the figures for the six years from 2008 to 2013 – angel investment in 2014 was 44% up on the average for the previous six years, the number of companies supported was up by 20%, and 49% more new companies and start-ups received funding.

The total value of investments in which LINC angels participated, including co-investment by institutional investors and by the Scottish Investment Bank, peaked in 2011 at £35 million, bolstered by a number of large VC and corporate co-investments. Investment by the LINC angel groups themselves however have been very consistent, in the £12m – £13m range for the previous six years until reaching over £18 million last year. The Archangel and TRI Cap investment in PowerPhotonic is a good start if 2015’s investment figures are to benefit from further large angel deals.

PR and communications at TRI Cap

There has been a change of personnel on the PR and communications front for TRI Cap with Julia Wailes-Fairbairn taking over the role from Eileen Prior.

At the Tenth Anniversary party held at Abbotsford, Melrose on 2nd December, TRI Cap Chairman Rob Dick spoke of his grateful thanks to Eileen who retires after ten years’ involvement with the group.

Julia has an MA in Modern History and has worked in PR and communications on and off for over twenty-five years during which time she has had experience with a number of financial organisations. She has both in-house and PR agency experience and will be working for TRI Cap on a part time basis from her office in Wooler, Northumberland.

Julia is the main point of contact for all news stories as well as the e-newsletter and website so please feel free to contact her on jwailesfairbairn@gmail.com.

TRI Cap Shoot Day

The annual TRI Capital shoot took place on the beautiful Edgerston estate near Jedburgh on 19th January. It was a lovely sunny winter’s day and the guns enjoyed a great day’s sport.

Those who attended were Gavin Stevenson, Jamie Andrew, Peter Wilson, Walter Riddell-Carre, Julian Livingston, Joe Scott-Plummer, James Jackson and Robert Dick, with Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn providing picking up services.

The day was run by Clifton Fieldsports under the direction of the Shanks family.

Pictured: Gavin Stevenson, James Jackson and Julian Livingston

SCOTTISH ANGEL INVESTORS CELEBRATE TENTH ANNIVERSARY

9th December 2014

Leading Scottish angel investment group Tweed Renaissance Investors Capital (TRI Cap) celebrated its tenth anniversary at a Reception at Ochiltrees Resturant, Abbotsford, Melrose, on Tuesday 2nd December. Since its first investment meeting in 2004, TRI Cap members have provided both investment capital and strategic management support to 35 businesses in Scotland and the North East of England – seven of which are based in the Scottish Borders.

The anniversary celebration was attended by many of TRI Cap’s 64 members and supporting staff as well as representatives from fellow angel investment syndicates, business angel association LINC Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. The event was sponsored by MBM Commercial law firm, Purves Chartered Accountants and Ranworth Capital.

Stuart Hendry of MBM Commercial, which has been involved with TRI Cap from the outset, described the syndicate’s establishment in 2004 as “brave”.

He said: “When it was first discussed, angel investment groups were few and far between in Scotland. In the intervening years the number has grown and now, when others around the world look at this type of financial backing they see Scotland as a centre of best practice. TRI Cap is certainly one of the very best of these.”

Robert Dick, Chairman, said: “The driver for TRI Cap has never been to just make money for its investors, although obviously that is a desirable outcome – rather, our main motivation has been the very real desire to make a difference to people.

“We also wanted to make a difference to the economy of the Scottish Borders – an area from which many of us had already derived success (financial or otherwise). It was arguably quite an act of faith as we had no idea whether anyone would join us to invest or indeed whether there were local businesses which would welcome us as investors.”

In fact, over the last ten years, TRI Cap members have invested in 35 companies, providing £9.25 million to fund deals totalling £52.5m. It is also estimated that TRI Cap members have match funded and drawn down around £6 million in partnership with the Scottish Co-Investment Fund (SCIF).

According to Robert Dick, “We are lucky enough to live in an area where there is a wealth of expertise, particularly in the innovation and technology sectors. Recent investments in, for example, precision engineering and pioneering medical technology are helping to position businesses in Scotland and the North of England as leaders in a global market. We are very proud of this.

“But the fact of which we are most proud is that our current portfolio of investee companies employs 500 people directly – and many more as a consequence. That is what it is all about: making a difference to people.”

The photograph shows Councillor Alec Nichol, Peter Sanderson of Tricap investee company Border Precision and Tricap Director Ian Douglas at the event and is published here by kind permission of Andrew Lubbock.

 

GOLF DAY 2014 REPORT

The TRI Cap 2014 Golf Day was held the day after the Referendum in September at the Hirsel Golf Club in Coldstream. Everyone was a little weary after the events of the day before, but spirits were boosted by the fine day and beautiful parkland.

Some good scores were achieved by the select band of players.

The winner of the Chairman’s Trophy was TRI Cap Vice Chairman Gavin Stevenson with a tremendous score of 39 points. No doubt he took advantage of the generous allowance of 5 mulligans!

Andrew Sloane of Morrisons was not far behind, coming second with 37 points followed by Paul Crookshanks of Scottish Enterprise with 34 points. Stuart Hendry of MBM won the prize for being nearest the pin at the 10th and Walter Riddell-Carre won the prize for the longest drive at the 13th.

Clearly for the big hitters the longest drive was held at the wrong hole as the requirement at the 13th was to keep the ball on the fairway! The team prize was won easily by Peter Murphy of Turnbull & Scott, Gavin Stevenson and Andrew Sloane. The day ended with a drink and a meal in the club house and the prize giving by TRI Cap Chairman Rob Dick.

END

GSS SCOOPS PRESTIGIOUS NATIONAL INNOVATION AWARD

Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd (www.gassensing.co.uk ), the Scottish-based high-technology gas sensor company, has been awarded a prestigious Institute of Physics Innovation Award 2014.

The accolade is in recognition of the company’s successful product research and development, and global commercialisation of unique, ultra-low power consumption gas sensors.

Dr Frances Saunders, President of IOP, said, “As we become more aware of the detrimental effect of CO2 emissions, it is excellent to see Gas Sensing Solutions using the latest advances in physics to satisfy both the societal and the market demand.”

The company will be presented with its prize at a glittering ceremony in London later in 2014.

Alan Henderson, Managing Director and co-founder of Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd commented: “We are delighted to win this esteemed award. It recognises the uniqueness, performance and low cost of GSS products, which are well aligned with current and emerging market needs, with sales in 46 countries and strong growth in both domestic and international markets.”

Gas Sensing Solutions was established June 2006 with funding from Scottish Borders based business angel syndicate TRI Cap and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. A Scottish success story, it now employs 20 personnel. GSS has also been supported by a R&D grant from Scottish Enterprise.

The company is the unique supplier of low-power consumption and fast-response carbon dioxide gas sensors. GSS is currently producing the world’s lowest power consumption sensor and one with the fastest response.

Trademarked sensors are now in full production at the company’s Glasgow and Cumbernauld-based facilities. They can be applied in a number of important and wide-ranging market sectors including indoor air quality control, energy reduction in buildings, industrial safety, horticulture, mining and medical.

Calum MacGregor, Technical and Operations Director said “This award recognises the global impact our technology has already made. GSS sensors are widely used to save energy, and to improve air quality in the built environment.”

“We have taken an area of physics which is more often used by defence industries. GSS has developed a range of products which help to address some of the tough environmental challenges we face.”

Professor Des Gibson, Chairman of Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd added: “The award is a tremendous endorsement of the outstanding physics innovation achieved by the company, highlighting the dedication and capabilities of our people, together with the financial support and confidence from our investors.

“The company constantly strives for technical excellence, driven by our customers’ demanding needs for cost-effective sensor solutions to meet current and emerging global market requirements.”

 

END

MGB BIOPHARMA SECURES £4.0m FOR CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT

MGB Biopharma, the Glasgow-based pharma business, has secured £4.0m to advance the development of its lead antibacterial, MGB-BP-3., designed to fight a range of infections. Funding of £2.7m has been provided by a syndicate of investors, led by Archangels, and includes existing investors Barwell PLC, TRI Cap and the Scottish Investment Bank. This brings the total funding secured by MGB Biopharma since the beginning of 2014 to £4m, including a prestigious £1.3m funding award announced in June by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK’s innovation agency, under its Biomedical Catalyst programme.

 Dr Miroslav Ravic, CEO of MGB Biopharma, said: “The danger posed by antimicrobial resistance to global public health is immense and we believe that MGB-BP-3 has the potential to be the first truly novel antibiotic to be developed globally in more than a decade. This new funding from our existing investors confirms their continued commitment to MGB Biopharma and our strategy to deliver value from our unique approach to treating resistant bacterial infections. We are extremely grateful for the support from Scotland’s leading angel investors together with Scottish Enterprise, and combined with the recent TSB funding award, we are well placed to accelerate the clinical development of oral MGB-BP-3.”

MGB Biopharma will use the funding to conduct a Phase I trial that will investigate the oral formulation of MGB-BP-3, for use in the treatment of Clostridium difficile infections. In parallel, the company will complete the pre-clinical development of the intravenous formulation of MGB-BP-3 and expects to be IND-ready by the end of next year.

John Waddell from Archangels, said: “We have been impressed with the progress in pre-clinical development made by MGB Biopharma since we first invested in the Company. Today we are announcing a significant additional investment into the Company by a syndicate of Scottish investors led by Archangels. This investment together with the Biomedical Catalyst Award, will enable the commencement of First-in-Man clinical studies. This important milestone represents an excellent starting point to spearhead the fight against antibiotic resistance. We are confident that MGB-BP-3 could transform therapy in an area where better and more effective treatments are desperately needed.”

End
September 2014