Birmingham optometry manufacturer eyes expansion following £2.5M investment
The investment will support Eyoto in expanding its research and product development
Birmingham-based tele-optometry manufacturer Eyoto,has secured funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) WM Equity Finance Fund, managed by venture capital firm Midven as part of a £2.5M funding round. Other investors in the round included Mercia Asset Management, the Future Fund and a group of angel investors.
Launched in 2013, from an Aston University School of Optometry project, Eyoto combines its knowledge of the tech and medical sectors to develop innovative tele-optometry services and specialises in image processing, computer vision, eye-tracking, machine learning, artificial intelligence and ophthalmic user interface design. The company has been involved in the ground-breaking development of technology that has transformed traditional optical health services.
Eyoto has already demonstrated success with its eMap product range which conducts rapid and detailed surface inspections of glasses for retailers and manufacturers. The firm is now working toward the launch of its latest product which will enable patients to undergo eye examinations remotely. This is a hugely significant development that is set to revolutionise the industry, especially in light of the current pandemic.
The investment will be used to develop existing product ranges as well as research into new technologies to further broaden its offering, which will improve accessibility to eye-care across the world and allow for better availability of eye-care practitioners.
The funding will also allow the company to create new skilled jobs in Birmingham and globally to ensure Eyoto has a widely talented team able to conduct the intensive research and development required to produce its revolutionary health products.
In addition to its advanced technical and medical staff, Midven notes the strength of Eyoto’s executive team as a driving factor for its investment. Its team includes CEO Carl Francis who joined Eyoto from his most recent appointment at tech company P2i Group, following a decade in the consumer electronics industry; CTO Jonathan Dean, who has over ten years experience in senior management and development in the technology industry; and CFO Bruce Casely who has worked in banking, industry and private equity as corporate practitioner and CFO across many industries.
Carl Francis,Eyoto CEO, says:
“We at Eyoto have all the ingredients to become a major force within the embryonic field of tele-optometry: a great team, a range of game-changing technologies and, as this funding round proves, supportive investors. We’re delighted to welcome Roger and the MEIF team as a new investor”
Roger Wood, Midven Director and MEIF Principal, says:
“Midven has a long standing relationship with Eyoto and has followed its product development progress closely over recent years. The opportunity to invest in the current round, and support an extremely experienced management team, coincides with a market environment which is extremely helpful for product launch with a pre-identified commercial partner.”
Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank said:
“This latest investment into Eyoto, a spinout from Aston University, demonstrates the MEIF’s commitment to supporting equity investments across the Midlands, as we continue to help improve access to finance in the region. This funding package illustrates collaboration between MEIF fund managers and angel investors and shows how MEIF is playing a key role in bringing additional private sector investment into innovative businesses across the Midlands.
Tim Pile, Chair of Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, said:
“The continued growth of Eyoto is a fantastic example of how the public and academic sectors can support business from early development to real-life application. We are thrilled to see companies like this continue to grow in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Greater Birmingham and Solihull has a strong and growing industry base of health technology companies. We offer a rich eco-system for healthcare innovation and the LEP itself is investing money in businesses support and skills to enable the development of an industry cluster. We are looking forward to see more companies like Eyoto contribute to the local and regional economy.”
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.
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Drew Craythorne, Digital Glue
0121 389 2784
EYOTO™ originated as a spinout from Aston University’s School of Optometry – one of the leading and best-known Optometry programs in the world. The company seeks to tackle problems facing the optical industry through advanced technology, with a specialty in image processing, computer vision, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and ophthalmic user interface design. We focus on tele-optometry and remote platform eyecare solutions.
Driven by market needs, EYOTO™ are now developing a range of hardware and software products that specifically incorporate recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, low cost/high-performance optics, and mobile processing power. Since our launch in 2013, we have grown dramatically from developer to equipment manufacturer to full technology solutions provider.
For more than 25 years, leading Birmingham-based venture capital firm Midven has been supporting Midlands SMEs, investing more than £60m into the region and raising £200m co-investment into their portfolio. Midven’s ‘more than money’ approach helps to build strong and successful companies and support businesses every step of the way. Midven continues to extend its reach to invest in the Midland’s most ambitious entrepreneurs through its recent appointment to manage the £35 million equity portion of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), as well as the launch of the firm’s first Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund. For more information about Midven, please visit www.midven.co.uk.
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 were supporting £8bn of finance to over 98,000 smaller businesses at end of March 2020. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering tens of billions of pounds of finance to over a million businesses.
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.