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Tuesday 14 July 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Government announces additional Future Borders funding

Brexit imageOver the weekend, UK Government announced another £705m of funding to ensure that the country’s border systems are fully operational when the UK takes back control of its border at the end of the EU Exit transition period on 1st January 2021.

Around £115m of that funding is destined to be spent on IT systems. In this latest UKHotViewsExtra from TechMarketView’s PublicSectorViews team, we look at the progress of the Future Borders programme to date, where the funding is set to go, and what Government is looking for from its suppliers.

If you are a TechMarketView subscriber, including for UKHotViews Premium, you can read the analysis now in Government announces additional Future Borders funding. If you are not yet a subscriber please contact Deb Seth to find out how to access this and more.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   centralgovernment   brexit   opportunity  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

CyberSmart raises £5.5m after COVID boom

CyberSmart raises £5.5m after COVID boomLondon-headquartered start-up CyberSmart has raised £5.5m of Series A funding led by IQ Capital.

Incubated in the NCSC Cyber Accelerator programme in 2017, CyberSmart has developed what looks to us like an automated, cloud-hosted vulnerability scanning and compliance platform that helps small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) achieve Cyber Essentials and IASME GDPR Certification. The software is designed to be quick, simple and cost effective to deploy, while COVID-19 remote working practices have helped push the company’s revenue up 300% over the last year.

CyberSmart will use the additional finance, which follows angel funding of £1.3m in 2019, to scale up its operations and expand its business reach.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: funding   cybersecurity   start-up  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

Wagestream receives $25m cash injection

WagestreamUK based, startup, Wagestream, has successfully raised $25m in additional funding. The latest investment was led by was led by Northzone and supported by Balderton Capital, Latitude Ventures and QED.

Wagestream’s propostion is aimed at both companies and individuals via an app that (for a nominal fee) provides workers with access to a percentage of their earned income in real-time. To date the company has raised a total of £65m (see: Backers advance £40m…).

Wagestream has already taken its offering to mainland Europe and the US and plans to use the latest cash injection to expand its international footprint and grow its operations.

This is an interesting proposition and the benefits of the Wagestream approach appear to combine financial wellbeing with employee engagement, thus potentially supporting employees and employers alike.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

FitXR closes new funding round

fitFitXR, which develops fitness games delivered through immersive technologies, has closed another funding round. Hiro Capital led the $6.3m investment, which was topped-up with a $1.2m loan from Innovate UK.

London-based FitXR will use the funding to launch new products and expand into Europe and the US. Its products enable people to use virtual reality (VR) headsets at home for high intensity boxing workouts (BoxVR) that are game-based to ensure participants don’t get bored andfitx ‘hang up the gloves’. The VR fitness products can be accessed via Steam, Oculus and more recently – PlayStation. 

FitXR was founded by Sam Cole and Sameer Baroova and received $1.25m in 2018, and its BoxVR product has been described as “Guitar Hero crossed with a studio boxing workout”.

The period of lockdown from late March – and the closure of gyms – will have led many to seek alternative ways to regularly exercise. VR fitness is not only convenient, it should also strongly appeal to those looking for a way to have fun while getting fit.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: funding   VR   virtualreality  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

HPE scales SD-WAN with Silverpeak buy

HPE scales SD-WAN with Silverpeak buyHPE’s proposed purchase of software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) specialist Silverpeak will help its Aruba subsidiary compete with bigger rivals such as Cisco, VMware and others in the enterprise networking and Internet of Things (IoT) space.

Silverpeak is one of the few independent SD-WAN suppliers left in the market following the acquisitions of Viptela (Cisco) and VeloCloud (VMware) while Palo Alto Networks snapped up CloudGenix for US$420m earlier this year. HPE’s US$925m offer for Silverpeak looks fair for a privately-held company that raised US$90m of investment in June 2018 (doubling the total US$80m raised prior to that date) which is estimated to have around 1,500 customers worldwide.HPE scales SD-WAN with Silverpeak buy

The combination of Silverpeak’s Unity EdgeConnect platform and Aruba’s SD-Branch software brings SD-WAN connectivity, WAN optimisation, routing, network security, local area network (LAN), WiFi and network management under one portfolio. It also sets Aruba up nicely to address IoT provision at the edge of the network, with providers struggling to cost effectively store and process data collected from hundreds of thousands of devices in the core (read our SD-WAN Builds New Service Models for Network Providers report here).

While demand for enterprise SD-WAN solutions has stalled during the COVID-19 crisis we expect market growth will quickly return previous double-digit expansion rates when global economic activity is free of lockdown restrictions. The technology has historically benefitted distributed organisations paying large sums of money to interconnect multiple sites and branch offices (see our analysis of recent UK activity here), configurations which may now attract more attention should post-pandemic remote working strategies move people and processes out of centralised office locations and into a larger number of smaller sites.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: acquisition   iot   SD-WAN   edge  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

Netcall growth demonstrates appeal of low-code approach

NetCallNetcall, the Hertfordshire based provider of low-code, omnichannel messaging solutions, has released a trading update highlighting strong revenue growth and a greatly improved operating performance.

For the full year ended 30 June 2020, Netcall expects to report revenue of £25.1m, representing a year on year increase of 10%. Meanwhile, adjusted EBITDA is anticipated to improve by a healthy 29% to £4.4m.

Underpinning the results, the annual contract value (ACV) of Netcall’s Cloud business grew by 25% to £7.5m, with total ACV up 7% overall to £16.8m. Netcall has greatly increased its cash position in recent months and held £12.7m compared to £6.5m at the end of December 2019.

Netcall appears to have had an excellent year and is one of those businesses that has seen lockdown increase demand for its offerings. Whilst the company’s ability to facilitate swift, affordable, changes to customer engagement processes had already proved its appeal (see: low-code takes Netcall to new customers and places) the pandemic is likely to be a long-term growth driver for Netcall.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

OnBuy tops up funding fuelled by Fuel

logoI was a bit confused about Dorset-based ecommerce marketplace OnBuy’s funding round when it was announced in February (see Dorset startup OnBuy plays David to Amazon’s Goliath). But news that the start-up has closed a £5m Series A raise suggests that they have just received a £2m top-up. The round was led by Fuel Ventures and signals OnBuy’s global launch.

Not one predisposed to the art of masterful understatement, OnBuy founder and CEO, Cas Paton, claims the start-up is “the fastest-growing marketplace in the world” and is “well on track to claim 3-5% of the £84bn UK eCommerce market in the next three years.”

We shall see.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

IDE struggles to reignite growth

LogoThe revenue slide at troubled Croydon-based cloud and IT managed services provider IDE Group continued through the latter part of FY2019 (the twelve months to 31st December). Having seen sales drop yoy by £7.1m to £14.7m in H119 (see here), second half turnover contracted by a further 8.8% sequentially. Overall, full year revenues were down 32% yoy at £28.2m and follow a 23.5% top line drop during the prior FY.

Good news was, however, to be found on the bottom line. The radical actions taken over the last twelve months, which have included wholesale changes to the board and an aggressive cost-cutting programme, did deliver a significant improvement in profitability. The adjusted EBITDA loss of £3.9m in FY18 was turned into a £1.1m profit during 2019, buoyed by a £0.9m boost from the adoption of IFRS 16. The net loss for the year from continuing operations was £8.5 million (2018: loss £29.5 million).

IDE Group believes that progress is being made towards a return to growth. The company reported that its focus on developing its partnership channels did generate several new name wins in the public sector. Furthermore, the Group has stemmed the level of customer churn securing several key account renewals during 2019. The current COVID-19 driven market turmoil will, however, only make this year’s sales job that much tougher, although the company stated that, to date, there has been no material effect on the business.

Market sentiment towards company has hardened over the past twelve months. From a share price peak of 7.85p last summer, IDE in March hit a year low of just 1.38p before recovering to sit at 2.80p yesterday. This morning, the price had fallen by 9% to 2.55p at the time of writing following the results announcement.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   cloud   managedservices  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

CX player Pisano looks East with $2.5m

PisanoLondon-based Customer Experience software provider Pisano has raised $2.5m led by fintech investor Elevator Ventures (EV).

Pisano has a CX platform that combines customer feedback across a range of channels including websites, stores, email and SMS all into one Inbox with automation and data analytics all wrapped in. They have some impressive clients signed up including AldoSamsungAdidas and Gap.

Elevator Ventures is the venture capital arm of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) a major player in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) market and teaming up is all about helping Pisano deepen its presence within the region. Via an existing collaboration called Elevator Labs Pisano has already run some Proof of Concept projects in Bulgaria and Kosovo and will be looking to land and expand further deals within the CEE market as CX moves up the corporate agenda there. Given RBIs strength it’s likely that initial focus will fall on the financial services market. 

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   CX  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

Real news of fake news detector Logically’s funding round

logoI am assuming that the announcement of Yorkshire-based start-up Logically’s seed funding round is not ‘fake news’, as its whole raison d’etre is to detect just that.

Founded in 2017 by Cambridge and MIT graduate Lyric Jain, Logically “uses a team of dedicated fact-checkers alongside artificial intelligence and digital forensics to analyse media stories and conspiracy theories to help the public separate facts from falsehoods.”

The £2.5m funding came from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and  XTX Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of algorithmic trading firm, XTX Markets.

The timing of the raise is to boost Logically’s capability ahead of the 2020 US presidential election; according to the PR, it was the 2016 US election that prompted Jain to found the start-up.

Gosh, there are so many of these fake news detection start-ups springing up now (just Google ‘fake news detection software’), all claiming to use ‘AI’. But usually these need humans too. Logically employs around 30 people split roughly equally between Yorkshire and London, but I can’t see how many of these are fact-checkers.

What Logically and its ilk can ill-afford is a ‘linear’ business model where the number of fact-checkers grows in proportion to the volume of news to be checked. The AI ‘smarts’ need to get smarter faster than the news gets faker!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

UiPath raises another $225m

UiPathAutomation software player UiPath has raised a further $225m Series E funding on an enormous $10.2bn valuation led by Alkeon Capital Management.

Yesterday’s investment brings the total raised by the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) firm to around $1.2bn which should help guide the firm towards an expected IPO in the not too distant future.

UiPath grew rapidly throughout 2017/2018 before hitting some bumps in the road in 2019 and having to “reset” with a round of redundancies. With Majors IBM and Microsoft having bought into the RPA space recently (see here and here), along with the other two RPA leaders Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere, UiPath has a window of opportunity that it must execute on. 

Indeed, Covid may become a game changer for RPA and automation more generally - To date automation has often been deployed tactically and piecemeal, frequently struggling to scale and be adopted throughout an organisation. However, client responses to Covid and an increasing demand for cost reduction, speed, consistency and reducing physical contact, are all likely to all help drive adoption of RPA. Given these winds of change UiPath will be looking to use this cash to grab as much market share as it can as the technology matures, heads to the cloud and becomes more strategic.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   RPA  

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

Goodlord vouches for Vouch

logoIt looks to be a natty little acquisition by London-based property lettings platform Goodlord, having just taken under its roof Sheffield-based, husband-and-wife led tenant reference platform Vouch. Terms were not disclosed. Founded in 2017 and with 15 employees, Vouch will continue to run as a separate brand.

The deal was probably financed by the proceedings of Goodlord’s funding round earlier this year (see Finch sings Goodlord’s praise with £10m ‘B+’ round), which brought the Proptech start-up’s funding to date to over £26m.

Goodlord seems to be settling down nicely after a shaky time 18 months ago with the untimely exit of the CEO, CTO and some 40 staff (see here). But there’s a lot of competition in the Proptech sector with new players joining all the time (e.g. see Big agencies back little Proptech Propoly), so let’s see if Goodlord can continue to build its market share.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   PropTech  

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Monday 13 July 2020

Atos extends worldwide Olympics IT partnership

Atos logoAtos has become synonymous with Olympics IT (see Atos: Champion of sporting events). It has been an IT partner for the Olympic Movement since 1989 when the company provided services for the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 Organising Committee. It became the Olympic Movement’s Worldwide Information Technology Partner in 2001.

Elie Girard, Atos CEO, and Thomas Bach, IOC President, at Bezons, on July 9, 2020The company has now announced an extension to its Worldwide Olympic Partnership through to 2024, continuing in its role the lead integrator for technology and, hence, securing the IT infrastructure for the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in 2022 and the Olympic Games Paris in 2024. Pictured are Elie Girard, Atos CEO, and Thomas Bach, IOC President, at Bezons, last week.

Commenting on its current involvement, Atos states, “Atos is currently supporting the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by providing core Olympic systems, such as the management of accreditations, as well as applications that include athlete entries for events, the online volunteer portal, the competition schedule, workforce management, and the voting application for the IOC Athletes’ Commission, amongst others. This is in addition to delivering all official results to the Games-time web and app and providing the media with biographies of athletes and other types of background information.”

Having the Atos brand connected with the Olympics is worth its weight in Olympic Gold medals in terms of its association with one of the most well-known sporting events worldwide. It also allows Atos to showcase its ability to work in a complex environment involving a large ecosystem of partners, multiple services, and a large number of stakeholders, as well as its ability to evolve the techniques and technologies it uses to support the Games over time. For example, at PyeongChang 2018, Atos delivered critical IT systems over the cloud for the first time; a model that it will replicate for Tokyo. Looking ahead, it will build on that model to ensure it is putting environmental commitment at the forefront of its approach, which will be a great reference for its new decarbonisation strategy (see Atos raises the green bar). Atos is also planning to manage “the most innovative Advanced Access Control System (AACS) for these next Games.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: contract   cloud   sustainability  

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Monday 13 July 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* Tech stocks bounce back from virus-induced crash.

chartAfter being caught in the huge stock market sell-off during the first quarter due to concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the global economy, tech stocks have led the recovery.

Indeed, the aggregate value of quoted UK software and IT services (SITS) companies was 14% higher in Q2 2020 than the prior quarter although still 17% down on the value at the end of 2019.

Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service and UKHotViews Premium can read more by downloading the Q2 2020 edition of IndustryViews Quoted Sector.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Monday 13 July 2020

NTT DATA wins some ‘Breathing Space’

NTT DATA logoNTT DATA has won an interesting contract with the Insolvency Service. Under the £1.6m contract, the company will work in partnership with the agency to deliver a ‘digital first’ service to meet the legislation for the new Breathing Space service.

The Breathing Space Scheme will give people in debt the opportunity to take control of their finances, placing them on a more sustainable footing. Currently, the process means that creditors can turn up at a person’s door the day after becoming insolvent. Under the new process, an individual receives a 60-day period of protection from creditors, putting safeguarding and citizen protection at the core.

The Breathing Space Scheme was a 2017 manifesto commitment by the Government. It is due to be introduced into legislation across England and Wales, so the service must go live by April 2021. The Digital Portal will allow eligible Money Advisers to managed clients in Breathing Space and, potentially, will allow Creditors to review their notifications.

NTT DATA describes this as a key win, as it aligns closely to its strategy for the UK public sector market – see NTT DATA: Delivering on UK Government’s Vision. In pursuing its ambition to double the size of its Public Services business over a three year period, the company has been pursuing two types of opportunity: augmentation and support of agile digital and data programmes, and large managed services contracts. This latest win falls into the first bucket. It also fits with NTT DATA’s desire to ensure it is making a tangible contribution to UK society through working with clients to maximise the potential of technology and data. 

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   centralgovernment   contract   applications   digital  

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Monday 13 July 2020

Smile Bank hit by major IT outage

SmileSmile, the UK internet bank, has suffered a major systems outage that has resulted in some of its services being unavailable for 8 consecutive days. The Smile platform first went offline on 5 July and customers were left unable to access their bank accounts or process transactions. The online only bank has around 100k customers and is owned by the Co-Operative Bank.

The bank has refused to disclose publicly what caused the problems and many customers have apparently been left frustrated by a lack of communication. Smile has however issued an apology for the IT problems which impacted its mobile app and main banking services. Online banking was restored over the weekend, however the mobile app remains unavailable. A message on the Smile website indicates that access to the app will not be restored until 14 July.

In December, the FCA and the Bank of England issued guidance, insisting that Banks take better precautions to protect their customers from the impact of IT problems (see: Banks must act to protect public from IT failures). That move followed the disastrous systems outage at the TSB that locked customers out of their accounts for a prolonged period and ultimately cost CEO, Paul Pester, his job (see: Customer Exodus following TSB IT Chaos).

The current problems at Smile echo the crisis at TSB. That outage cost many millions of pounds and saw around 100k customers leave the bank as a direct result. These days Smile is ultimately owned by a number of hedge funds. There have been rumours of a possible sale, however, it may now be difficult to know what value to put on the asset, in light of recent developments!

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: banking  

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Monday 13 July 2020

Corero DDoS orders up 58% in first half

Corero DDoS orders up 58% in first halfCOVID-19 pandemic restrictions appear to have accelerated rather than impeded Corero Network Security’s business in the first half of 2020. A trading update indicates order intake rose 58% year on year to US$7.9m in the six months ending in June, with 18 new customers expected to push revenue up 48% to US$6.2m.

That performance partially reflects a poor FY19, but Corero has also seen strong demand for its distributed denial of service (DDoS) solutions as hackers ramped up attacks on organisations whose entire operations suddenly moved online in March. A host of security firms reported increased attempts to bring down company websites by flooding them with spurious traffic in the last six months, including Neustar which saw attacks regularly topping 300Mbit/s and Akamai which measured one incident at 1.44Tbit/s

Two thirds of the Corero’s customers are the telcos and cloud service providers whose services have proved crucial to keeping public and private sector organisations in play during lockdown and had little choice but to beef up their DDoS protection. Corero itself shifted its staff to remote working in the middle of March and has experienced minimal disruption to its mostly SaaS-based delivery model as a result.

Only time will tell, but the early signs are that Corero has the right balance of cloud-hosted service provision and business continuity to ensure it comes out of the current crisis relatively unscathed.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: DDoS   cybersecurity   tradingupdate  

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Sunday 12 July 2020

Maven backs York BI start-up Hublsoft

logoI first met Bernard Edwards, founding chairman of the enterprise performance governance software firm then called Salamander, back in 2011 (see A bright night for Intellect). Salamander soon renamed itself after its core product, MooD, which was acquired by information systems and marketing solutions provider CACI back in June 2019.

I tell you this as Edwards now chairs York-based data analytics start-up Hublsoft, which has just raised its first funding round led by a £2m investment from Maven Capital Partners. I am given to understand that there will be other backers joining the round at a later date. Hublsoft was formally launched in March 2019 though the product had been under development for some three years.

This is a great result given the timing of the raise and will give Hublsoft a much-needed boost to fight its corner in a fiercely competitive and challenging market.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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