Tech firm raises £700k to aid roll-out of AI assistants
A company which develops conversational assistants capable of manning helpdesks and answering technical enquiries has raised £700,000 to help scale up its operations.
Humley secured the investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s own EIS funds and a private investor.
The funding, which follows an earlier round by private investors, brings the total raised by Humley to £1.4m and will allow the Northampton-based company to grow its customer base and revenue ahead of a planned Series A funding round next year.
Humley’s assistants can be used to help customers or employees find the information they need – such as technical details of a product, search a database or find a research paper – or to field HR enquiries. The assistants incorporate a number of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and are easy to use. The technology also integrates with other AI solutions including robotic process automation (RPA) which many large firms are using to manage back-office processes.
Humley was established in 2017 as a spin-out from mobile payments provider Infomedia, where it was developed to support customer service. Its technology is now in use by a number of large corporates and has been taken up by two of the UK’s leading advisory firms who are deploying it within client companies.
Adam Harrold, CEO of Humley, said:
“This investment round represents a significant endorsement of our technology. The conversational AI market is very noisy with many big players. Our unique approach has made us the platform of choice for many global players and has allowed us to roll out our technology. This investment enables us to further establish ourselves in the market as a leading provider of conventional AI for enterprise and take the business to the next level.”
Stephen Windsor at Mercia, added:
“Conversational AI assistants are a cost-effective way for companies to deliver high quality, 24/7 customer service across a range of channels. We were impressed by Humley’s platform which is much easier to use, quicker to deploy and more cost-effective than its competitors. We are excited to be supporting Adam and the team as they scale up the business ahead of the next investment round.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said:
“Supporting innovation is one of the key objectives for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. This investment will enable the firm to continue on its growth trajectory and I’d encourage other SMEs in the Midlands that are looking to grow to also consider the options available through the MEIF.”
Vicky Hlomuka, Growth Hub Manager at the South East Midlands LEP, said:
“Humley has shown that innovative businesses can grow and develop at a quick pace. It is important that these businesses in our area have the opportunity for investment to grow and innovate further. It is great to see the investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund support them in their journey to further scale up.”
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.
About Mercia Asset Management PLC
Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital: the Group’s ‘Complete Capital Solution’. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.
Mercia has a strong UK regional footprint through its eight offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia has almost £0.8billion of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over £90.0million across its direct investment portfolio.
The Group raises its own Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and details about open offers can be found through Mercia’s website.
Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC” and includes the following wholly owned subsidiaries –
- Mercia Fund Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 524856
- Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 183363
- EV Business Loans Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 443560
About the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF)
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.
The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.
The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb
About the British Business Bank
The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
The British Business Bank programmes are supporting more than £7.2bn of finance to over 93,000 smaller businesses (as at end of September 2019).
As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:
· The Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb.
- The new British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The new site also features case studies and learnings from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.
As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised and regulated by the FCA.
British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.
Head of Marketing & Communications
Mercia Asset Management PLC
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