News

TRI Cap investee company GSS is up for 3 awards

GSS has been shortlisted in 3 categories at the Elektra Awards: Excellence in Product Design for Medical; Passive & Electromechanical Product of the Year; Design Team of the Year – https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/elektra-awards-news/elektra-awards-2017-shortlists-revealed-2017-10/

 

 

Training software developer Administrate inks US deals – The Scotsman

This article about TRI Cap investee company Administrate appeared in the Scotsman on 20th September 2017

http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/training-software-developer-administrate-inks-us-deals-1-4565011

Training software outfit Administrate has secured fresh deals with two US companies as it prepares to host its latest education technology conference. The Edinburgh-based firm, which develops software to help clients such as “big four” accountant PwC and the University of York run online training programmes, has partnered with sales and marketing group Lead Liaison, headquartered in Texas, and San Francisco’s CloudShare, a provider of “virtual labs” for IT training and sales demonstrations.

Future Scotland CloudShare founder and chief executive Zvi Guterman said: “One of the primary applications for our solution is within the training industry, and our partnership with Administrate is a natural fit. Together with Administrate, we enable training organisations to spend much less time on technical and administrative details so they can spend more time creating and providing high-quality programmes.”

Meanwhile, Administrate said its tie-up with Lead Liaison would allow the Scots firm’s clients to target potential customers using a variety of methods, including emails, text messages and even postcards, to help generate more sales.

Administrate chief executive John Peebles said: “We believe training professionals are best served by a seamless training and administration experience, and integrations like these are key to that goal. “Excellent marketing is critical for any training company, and we’re really excited about this integration that links Administrate with one of the leading marketing automation platforms in the world.”

The deals came ahead of the two-day Administrate LITE conference, which kicks off tomorrow at the CodeBase technology incubator, where the software start-up has its headquarters. The firm, which employs more than 60 people, also has a US office in Montana and last year established a presence in Beirut, Lebanon.

 

Chairman’s report

I am pleased to report that following several deal completions in the first half of the year and continued valuable support from LINC Scotland TRI Cap was ahead of budget for that period both by way of anticipated income but also the generating of a surplus. It was also pleasing to note the very good turnout at the September members meeting. Members were in good mood and had obviously summered well!

 

In terms of activity the Board has been very busy in the first half of the year and continues to push ahead with a number of initiatives. Paul Yuskaitis is concentrating on getting the Proseeder (investment management) software up and running and I have been working on the first Portfolio Review document for the members (hopefully to be published in December). The new investment panel led by Douglas Needham is up and running, and looking at fresh opportunities for members and this has allowed Kathy Kinder to concentrate more on the management of the existing portfolio. The monitoring group under Ian Burton\s leadership continues to develop as an effective vehicle for assessing the performance of our invested companies via the collection and analysis of good quality information. Lastly, and after many months of hard work from Julian Livingston and Andy Purves the new ‘Power of Attorneyˆ legals were finalised and ‘Tricap Signatory Services Ltd’ became a reality.

 

That aside we continue to network and maintain/build our relationships with the other angel investment groups, Scottish Enterprise and LINC Scotland by attending the Angel Leaders Forum (ALF) meetings and also various industry events such as Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) 17 and the Young Company Finance Conference 2017 ‘Getting to exit: Trade Sales’.

 

Lastly, whilst we are looking to bring new opportunities to members we have to remain focused very firmly on supporting and nurturing the existing portfolio so that shareholder value can be realised within reasonable timescales. Indeed, the progress of the senior executives/ boards of your invested companies towards achieving a return of shareholder value is quite rightly a vital metric for the TRI Cap Board to monitor and consider.

Innovative sensor technology assists Nasa with vital wearable CO2 monitoring equipment

By Siobhan Molloy, SST Sensing & Rachael Barton, GSS

Within a self-contained system where humans are respiring, there will be a build up toxic CO2 levels over time. As a consequence, in any form of spacecraft where humans are present, effective mechanisms for removing CO2 and resupplying oxygen need to be implemented. However, operational necessities still dictate that these will only be efficient enough to keep the CO2 levels down to a certain extent.

As air moves differently in such locations, without the influence of gravity involved. Heat does not rise and this in turn leads to significantly less mixing of air taking place. The occupants onboard the International Space Station (ISS) are thus exposed to greater levels of CO2 during their time onboard than the rest of us experience. Down here on Earth it represents just 0.03% of the air’s content (equating to a partial pressure of 0.23 mmHg). NASA has set a long-duration spacecraft maximum allowable COconcentration that is more than double that figure, at 0.7% (a partial pressure of 5.3mmHg).

Though extensive terrestrial studies have shown that this increased level will have no effect on the continued good health of those exposed to it, there must be some acknowledgement of the fact that crew members onboard the ISS still regularly experience symptoms of acute CO2 toxicity – such as headaches or lethargy.

It is generally accepted that human adaptations to microgravity conditions will cause astronauts in space to become more sensitive to elevated CO2 levels. This can result not only in physical discomfort, but also impinge on their cognitive skills and reaction times – thereby potentially leading to safety risks. On average crew members stay on the ISS for a period of around 6 months, so having a good grasp of the ongoing implications is clearly of great value.

With operational practicalities meaning that it is not possible (either technically or financially speaking) to remove enough CO2 to replicate normal conditions here on Earth, the ISS has to function with relatively high ambient COconcentrations present in the air. Yet its occupants have to live and work in an acceptable environment.

NASA scientists have, for many years, wanted to embark on a thorough investigation of how elevated CO2 levels impact on ISS crew members’ ability to carry out their allotted tasks, but it has taken a long time for them to be in a position to employ a method for acquiring data to a high enough degree of precision. Given that, as already mentioned, air does not mix well without the influence of gravity, wall-mounted sensors had proved themselves to be an unsuitable means by which to get an accurate reflection of a crew member’s exposure to CO2. What was needed instead were wearable CO2sensors.

There were several key criteria that a wearable CO2 sensor would have to meet. These were as follows:

  • It would need to support a prolonged battery life – so that operation could be sustained for an extensive period without recharging being required.
  • For wearer comfort and convenience, the sensor would have to be compact and have a low mass.
  • A simple data interface would also be important, so as to make the information acquired easy to access, while at the same time keeping the system development process as short and uncomplicated as possible.

After a comprehensive survey of what products were on the market, the scientists working in NASA’s Technology Transfer Program decided on the best option. A solution from Scottish sensor manufacturer SST Sensing Ltd developed with its long-established engineering partner Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) was specified accordingly. The two companies liaised with NASA during the prototyping phase, providing detailed performance information on the industry-leading CozIR CO2sensor so that this device could be used with maximum effectiveness in space agency’s personal CO2monitors.

Once they had been supplied, the NASA team charged with execution of the project then constructed a custom-designed baseboard around each CozIR sensor. This hardware provided all the necessary power regulation, processing, data storage and wireless connectivity. The team also designed a housing that could be 3D printed and easily clipped on to crew member’s clothing (with the sensors being worn on the back of their collars).

Thanks to the highly advanced optoelectronics employed by the CozIR gas sensors, these low power, high speed non-dispersive infra-red (NDIR) devices can cover measurements down to ppm CO2 levels (with a range of 0 to 5000ppm and a ±5% sensor accuracy). They comfortably support an operational lifespan of 10 years. Pivotal to their suitability for this application was their power saving capabilities – with devices just drawing 3.5mW at 2 samples/sec acquisition rates. This means that they are 50 times less power hungry than standard NDIR sensor options currently on the market. Another advantage was the ease of connectivity – with a convenient serial connection facilitating data transfer.

Through these personal CO2 monitors, it will be possible for simple and unobtrusive tracking of the astronauts’ individual CO2 exposure to be undertaken over an extended period of time. Astronauts will be able to view their own data straight away via a custom iPad app. Furthermore, all the datasets obtained from crew members will subsequently be compiled together and utilized by researchers to get a better understanding of the long-term effect of heightened CO2 exposure during space travel. Not only could this prove highly beneficial to the ISS crew, but also for potential future missions to Mars.

The personal CO2 monitors that were developed for this project were transported to the ISS back in the spring, with the crew completing proof-of-concept demonstrations soon after. The process of gathering data is now underway, with initial analysis due to take place towards the end of the year.


TRI Cap member profile – Moray Martin

1. Where is home?

I am originally from Elgin and have lived for extended periods in Aberdeen, Newcastle, London, Manchester, Jakarta and Singapore. Since moving back to the UK in 2010 my home has been in rural Northumberland.

2. What was your first job?

Coming from a modest background, as a child if I wanted anything I had to find the money myself. So I have been working from age 8 on a wide range of jobs. My first ‘real’ job was when I left university to join Royal Insurance in Aberdeen as a fast track trainee.

3. What part did your education play in deciding your future career?

Initially not much. Like a lot of people of my vintage I fell into university with a limited understanding of what I was letting myself in for. Later though I was given the opportunity to do a company sponsored MBA at INSEAD. That gave me the necessary width of vision, confidence and understanding. There is no doubt that my career accelerated after that.

4. When did you join TRI Cap and what motivated you to become a member?

I joined TRICAP shortly after I returned from Asia. I had crossed swords with a past member on another investment and he introduced me to Rob Dick. Rob’s common sense and enthusiasm convinced me, a confirmed ‘non-joiner’, that TRICAP was for me.

5. What keeps you involved?

I like the people.

6. What are the key elements that attract you to particular investee companies?

A coherent and thought through business plan backed by a credible team.

7. What annoys you in life?

My own shortcomings and weaknesses.

8. How do you relax?

What’s that?

9. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

No.

10. What advice would you give to any aspiring young business people who are just starting out?

Think before you act.

Ryboquin raises £1.8m for drug development in gene therapy and strengthens board

July 2017

       Latest funding round attracts two prominent new investors: – Brian Kennedy and Sir Brian Souter

 

Ryboquin Limited, a Scottish Borders based  pharmaceutical company, announces that it has closed a £1.8m equity fund raising to accelerate product development in gene therapy.

 

In addition to support from existing shareholders, including Borders business angel group, TRI Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise), funding has also been provided by Brian Kennedy, the highly successful Scottish entrepreneur and Sir Brian Souter, the founder and Chairman of Stagecoach.  Brian Kennedy will also join the Board.

 

Founded in 2013, Ryboquin is a privately held, pharmaceutical company focused on commercialising patented intellectual property in the area of delivering gene therapy primarily in the field of human cancer medicine.  Ryboquin is in partnership with Nanogenics to promote the targeted nucleic acid delivery system LipTide.

 

The funds being raised will be used to further scientific development as well as providing funding for corporate expansion.

 

Paul Murray, Executive Chairman, Ryboquin, says:

 

“The support from existing shareholders and the investment by Brian Kennedy and Sir Brian Souter, two esteemed leaders and hugely successful businessmen, is testimony to the potential of Ryboquin and to the work we are undertaking in the field of cancer gene therapy drug development.

 

We also welcome Brian Kennedy to the Board and look forward to his contribution as we seek to grow the business both organically and by acquisition.”

 

Brian Kennedy says:

 

“I am delighted to be part of Ryboquin and to be working with the team that could make great progress in the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

 

FINDRA opens Design Hub in Scottish Borders

Findra opened a Design Hub in Innerleithen, Scottish Borders, in May 2017

FINDRA, the women’s cycle and outdoor clothing brand, has opened its first retail space in Innerleithen, Scottish Borders, the centre of UK mountain biking.

 

This Scottish brand has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2014 where it grew from the ground up with support from Mountain bike centre of Scotland Scottish Enterprise, Entrepreneurial Spark and Scottish Edge. Founder, Alex Feechan, has combined her love of cycling, with her design experience to create a brand that aims to encourage and empower women to look good, feel good and perform to the best of their abilities when they’re are out adventuring.

 

The retail space, on Innerleithen High street, will showcase the range as well as act as a hub for women’s cycling in the area. With organised rides, talks and presentations to inspire and motivate not only women cyclists but the active community at large. The design hub will be a centre within the community welcoming everyone.

 

Alex has always envisaged the brand having a retail space, feeling that FINDRA is a brand that is confident about their identity and wants to listen to their customers directly.

 

The retail space opened on the weekend of 6th-7th May 2017 with an introductory event and opening celebration. FINDRA hope that the continued growth of the women’s cycling industry bodes well for the women of the future.

 

FINDRA Design Hub, 83 High Street, Innerleithen. Scottish Borders. EH44 6HD

Rob Dick retires

Jamie Andrew and Ian Burton present Rob Dick with his retirement gift

 

At TRI Cap’s AGM in April Rob Dick retired as a Director of the TRI Cap board, having already retired as the organisation’s Chairman in February 2017. Rob was presented with the brass bell which he had used at every meeting to call the members to order. Mounted with the inscription ‘For whom the bell tolls!’ it is a fitting tribute to his thirteen year Chairmanship. In addition, and in recognition to Rob’s outstanding contribution to TRI Cap over the years as Chairman, he was elected to the role of Honorary Life President.

A graduate of Cambridge University, Rob had moved from farming into the setting up and running of a number of businesses. In 2004 he was a founder member in the establishment of TRI Cap, making it one of Scotland’s most active business angel syndicates with interests in a range of different businesses and business areas. A serial entrepreneur Robert has a number of other interests including long-standing board membership of the family’s engineering and property business based in Oxford.

Living most of his life in the Scottish Borders, Rob’s motivation for TRI Cap was never simply a business one. He said, ‘I have a lifelong attachment to the Scottish Borders and to its business community. TRI Capital is a vehicle which melds my commitment to this part of the world while also providing tangible benefit to entrepreneurs.’

His successor, TRI Cap Chairman Jamie Andrew paid tribute to Rob’s outstanding service. Jamie commented: ‘Rob will be a difficult act to follow. He has built TRI Cap up into being one of the most respected Angel syndicates in Scotland with a varied portfolio of invested companies. Rob thought we were going to let him retire or disappear quietly but instead we have elected him to become TRI Cap’s Hon Life President. I am delighted that Rob will remain an active member but from the back benches so to speak.’

Member Profile: Michael Gallico

 

1. Where is home?

‘Home’ as in where I was born is Harrow, Middlesex – John Betjeman’s Metroland.  Half the county disappeared under bricks and mortar in the 1920s and ‘30s so it is not a place with deep roots.  I’ve never envisaged going back, though, too much has changed and for the worse.

Home now is Kelso, where we are squeezed into what was our weekend house whilst we lived in Knaresborough, Yorkshire; but from mid-2017 we expect to be in Berwick-upon-Tweed where we are renovating a former convent with a (potentially) wonderful walled garden. Most of my and Alison’s family are north of the Tyne now, so the Borders are home now.

2. What was your first job?

 Pulling pints in ‘The Castle’ on Harrow Hill, whilst I waited for the outcome of interviews! The pub is still there, unaltered, though the food has improved from chicken in the basket.  For a salary I first worked in the University Library at Leeds and stayed with the University for 13 years, latterly running a business unit inside the Medical School.

If I count student jobs?  I delivered telephone books in Auckland, New Zealand; taught economics in Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe still just was); and delivered the Christmas post for three years.

3. What part did your education play in deciding your future career?

 I suppose I’d always been of an academic bent and thought that something in that milieu would suit me – at 21 one doesn’t always think of the financial rewards. So within the university I moved sideways into a publishing role, was offered a job in commercial publishing in Oxfordshire, and went on from there to end up as MD of a company employing over 60 people on three continents.  But I was still working in the academic community, commissioning content from researchers, so I think I’ve always talked the language of scholarship.

4. When did you join TRI Cap and what motivated you to become a member?

 I’m one of the newest members, joining in 2016 at Rob Dick’s suggestion.  He certainly didn’t hold out the prospect of unlimited wealth creation!  But I did sense that this is an organisation intended to support part of the economy of the Borders where I’ve chosen to live; it provides an alternative form of investment, certainly; and the companies TRI Cap supports are small businesses which in time I might be able to assist with skills I’ve acquired myself.

5. What keeps you involved? 

 From the outset I’ve seen presentations from a cross-section of business in sectors about which I know little; but they all interest me, the good and the less thoughtful, and as time goes by I start to see similarities between them – not least an insouciance about the importance of sales – and learn.    I suppose there’s a vicarious interest in being associated with a business from start-up and there’s the excitement that next up might be a business where I can see a way to making a contribution.

6. What are the key elements that attract you to particular investee companies?

At most presentations it’s obvious that the speaker believes in the product, although in the last year I think that maybe one or two were either on a chance or perhaps had been working on the product for so long they had stopped thinking critically. What isn’t always clear, and this is where some businesses stand out, ones I’ve chosen to support, is their confidence in the process they have set to achieve sales targets, gain market presence and make an exit. These are the ones that seem willing to make changes, to management or to strategy, because they have a vision of where they are headed.  I would also prefer to support businesses that generate employment in the Borders.

7. What annoys you in life?

Anyone who says “we’ve always done it this way”! I’ve a tendency to wish that if something is worth doing, it should be done now, if not yesterday, so I cannot easily bear procrastination. I’m also developing a Blimpish tendency to say to our children “things aren’t what they were when I was your age” but I do regret the lack of rigour in education (compared to what I had), in standards of public life, and the pre-processed platitudes of many modern politicians and public sector-speak.

8. How do you relax?

I’m still not sure I have time to relax!  I have a part-time NED job, a house renovation to oversee, various property interests, and a family to keep up with.  I expect to do a great deal of walking in the Borders: our son who once complained of being dragged up the Cheviots is now a mountain leader for the Scouts and I endeavour to keep up with him.  I read a lot, particularly history, it should inform the present day.

Every year I spend a week or two in the west and north of Scotland crewing for the same skipper. People ask me how I can spend 12 hours in a day going at 7 mph but perhaps they’ve not see the fantastic scenery and islands: on my last birthday I steered us under the Skye bridge in a force 9 gale and was at anchor in Gairloch for champagne on a sunlit evening.  I’m hoping to get afloat more now I live here.

9. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

I’d like to think I’ve another business venture in me, in some way connected to what I’ve done, but it has to be enjoyable too.  Meanwhile there are still plenty of places in the world to visit, many of them just glimpsed between airport and a conference venue on business: much of America outside the big cities, for a start, and a lot of Europe.  I made a four-week trip to India when I stopped work, we have another visit planned for a year’s time and there is still much more to see there.

Of course, I have ambitions for our children but I hope we’ve set them off in the right direction and they can work out their lives.

10. What advice would you give to any aspiring young business people who are just starting out?

I regret never stopping to acquire an MBA or similar, and then it became impossible to take the time out of job and family life, so do it early. Friends with an MBA have found that it has enhanced both their career and their enjoyment of the jobs they’ve had.   Instead, I was busy being an officer in the Territorial Army which gave certain skills of leadership and command – useful in the Cold War, perhaps, but not all of which one can use in the modern workplace!

Kaizen and the art of continuous improvement

Ian Burton, TRI Cap Director, Chairman of TRI Cap’s Monitoring Group, Captain of Scottish Borders Exporters Association and Director of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce explains how the philosophy of continuous improvement should drive the investor / investee relationship.

Continuous improvement is the key to business success. Because if a business is not going forward then it is going backwards. But this is not a new idea. Since the rebuilding of Japanese industry after the Second World War, the philosophy of continuous improvement known as Kaizen has driven many successful companies forward. It applies to the whole organisation, from the chairman to the cleaner; from tiny incremental changes enacted swiftly in the production line environment to the flow of materials and information.

Toyota is famous for its adherence to the Kaizen business principle with workers encouraged to identify small improvements in process to improve output. But the philosophy is not the preserve of large production-line companies. The ISO 9001 standard requires businesses to plan, do, check and act. And nowhere is continuous improvement more important than in the business of investment.

Firstly, it applies to investee companies. Those whose businesses have been supported by outside investors are presented with an unrivalled opportunity to pursue the principles of Kaizen. Because those who invest have a wealth of expertise which should be utilised. Unlike those who work within the business on a daily basis, these individuals have experience of other successful companies, other production systems and other business environments. They are uniquely well-placed to be a ‘critical friend’ because they are invested, both financially and intellectually, in a business idea and are therefore also invested in its success.

In a variety of roles, from chairman, non-executive director, observer or monitor, these investors are there to challenge. Either in the boardroom or behind the scenes, they have the success of the business at heart but they would be irresponsible if they did not use their experience to chip away at continuous improvement. But their intention is not to undermine; it is to encourage forward momentum. Even if a business is meeting its financial targets, there may be underlying issues which will affect future performance and it is their responsibility to bring these issues to the attention of the board. And as the goalposts change, it is to assist in the re-evaluation of targets.

Secondly, the principle of Kaizen applies to the investment vehicle itself. If we as investors do not learn from our experience then we will also be moving backwards. At TRI Cap we now understand that we want to engage with those who wish to engage with us. We do not simply aim to hand over our money and sit back and wait to see what happens. We know that the potential of people and their ideas is more important than their current financial position. If a business idea is fundamentally flawed, no amount of strategic input will make it a long term success. But if the premise is a good one and the management team is responsive and engaged, we will be able to provide the expertise to help manage the business so that it moves forward.

At TRI Cap we are also continually developing our own management systems. We have recently undertaken an exercise to gather the views of our investment members and are taking steps to act upon it. We are also in the process of revising our monitoring function and developing ways to improve the flow of information.

Yet ultimately, and perhaps bizarrely, our aim is to become redundant. Ideally, our investment of both money and ideas will lead to a successful exit. It has never been our intention to hold investments over a long period of time but to see a company moving on to the next stage in its development. For us, this is a vital aspect of the continuous improvement process.