Student alert platform set for wider roll-out with help of £1m loan
An edtech company whose software platform alerts universities to students in need of support has secured a £1m loan to help scale up its operation.
The funding, which comes at the height of the shift to online learning, will help Leeds-based Solutionpath to adapt its technology to remote tuition and roll it out to more universities, creating 11 new jobs. It includes funding from the NPIF – Mercia Debt Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and an equal amount from Mercia’s SME Loans fund.
Described as a ‘fitness app for education’, Solutionpath’s platform measures students’ engagement with their learning activities. It identifies changes in behaviour and alerts both students and tutors, encouraging students to take action and allowing tutors to intervene at the right time and offer personalised support.
Solutionpath was founded in 2013 by Richard Gascoigne and Howard Hall as a spin-out from DTP Group, the Leeds-based IT reseller serving the higher education sector. It now employs 23 staff. Originally pioneered in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, the platform is now used by 18 institutions.
Richard Gascoigne, CEO of the company, said:
“Understanding student engagement and ensuring they have the right support has always been difficult for universities, but at a time when learning is moving online and students are spending more time alone, it is even more important. Solutionpath provides real-time feedback on how new practices are being received and enables them to spot vulnerable students or those at risk of dropping out.”
Chris Pestell and David Wright of Mercia worked on the transaction. Chris Pestell said:
“Solutionpath addresses two of the biggest challenges facing universities today – student wellbeing and success rates. Experience has shown that by identifying warning signs, they can take action to improve outcomes. The funding will allow more universities to benefit from this technology and help the company achieve its growth plans.”
Grant Peggie, Director at British Business Bank, said:
“NPIF continues to support high-growth businesses, like Solutionpath, across the North. By providing vital funding, we are supporting new skilled jobs, innovation and expansion into new markets.”
The Northern Powerhouse 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.
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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 currently has c.£872million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over c.£106million across its direct investment portfolio.
The Group raises its own Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and manages Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) 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 Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund
- The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will invest in Microfinance, Business Loans and Equity Finance sub-funds which will offer financing ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
- The Northern Powerhouse 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 Northern Powerhouse 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 NPIF covers the following LEP areas: Tees Valley Combined Authority, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Liverpool City Region, Lancashire, Humber, Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region, York, North Yorkshire and East Riding
- The project is receiving up to £140,359,192 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for 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 https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
- The funds in which Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and Tees Valley.
- 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