News

First CIOSIF investment with £750k equity investment in wireless internet provider

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) has completed its first investment with a £750,000 equity stake in wireless internet service provider Wildanet, based at Goonhilly Earth Station through appointed fund managers The FSE Group.

The investment is being match-funded by the FSE Angel network, private investors and Crowdcube as part of a £1.5m package. It will support Wildanet’s continued expansion across Cornwall and into Devon, targetting 12,000 new customers and creating an estimated 39 jobs over the next three years.

Wildanet uses state of the art wireless radio technology to provide superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas, with a guaranteed minimum speed of 30Mb/s, up to lightning-fast 1Gb/s.

Jake Berry MP, Minister for Local Growth, said: “Access to superfast broadband is vital to economic growth in our rural areas and this project will open the door to digital services for thousands of people across Cornwall. Harnessing the innovation of British business to grow prosperous communities is at the heart of this investment, and the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”

Ian Calvert, CEO and founder of Wildanet, which was set up in January 2017, said: “There is a real opportunity for us to radically improve connection speeds for homes and businesses across Cornwall currently experiencing low bandwidths. The funding from CIOSIF and our match funders will allow us to expedite our growth strategy and bring reliable superfast broadband to hard to reach areas.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, at the British Business Bank, said: “We are delighted that the fund’s first investment will not only create jobs but will also bring improved connectivity for homes and businesses, which is good news for productivity and growth. This deal is a great example of how the CIOSIF can leverage other investment to help growth-minded businesses realise their potential.”

LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Wildanet is a young tech start-up with ambitious growth plans and has developed its own technology to plug a clear gap in the market. CIOSIF was set up to encourage entrepreneurship and tackle a shortfall in start-up, early stage and development capital in the region, so we’re delighted with this first investment and wish Wildanet every success.”

Ralph Singleton, Senior Fund Manager, FSE Group, added: “Wildanet is helping to close the digital divide in rural areas by offering households and businesses across the county access to the same digital services as other parts of the UK. With a depth of industry experience gained with major players in the telecom sector, the management team are well-positioned to exploit this opportunity while helping to drive forward the regional economy in the process.”

The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region.

It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and is operated by appointed fund managers FSE Group.

CIOSIF 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. Further investment has come from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and HM Government.

For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk of follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2

Notes to editors

Photography captions (L-R)

Wildanet 1&2: John Acornley, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP board member; Ian Calvert, Wildanet CEO and Stuart Nicol, Head of Funds Cornwall, FSE Group.

Wildanet 3: Ian Calvert, Wildanet CEO; John Acornley, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP board member and Stuart Nicol, Head of Funds Cornwall, FSE Group.

About the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF)

• The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will invest in Debt Finance 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 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 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 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the CIOS Local Enterprise Partnership and HMG grant funding.

• The project is receiving up to £32m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of 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 Government has guaranteed all funding allocated through EU programmes until the end of 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/funding-from-eu-programmes-guaranteed-until-the-end-of-2020

• The funds in which Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only.

• 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’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. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

• The British Business Bank is currently supporting more than £5.5bn of finance to over 78,000 smaller businesses (as at end of June 2018).

• 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. It has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). This guide impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Take the interactive journey at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb or download/print a copy.

• British Business Bank plc is a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which 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, one of which is 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.

About Wildanet

Wildanet Limited is a Cornish based wireless internet service provider (WISP) and is building a fixed wireless network across the hard to reach areas of Cornwall to provide superfast broadband internet services to those communities still disadvantaged by slow broadband. Its public space wifi technology is also the ideal solution for providing services to areas of high footfall. www.wildanet.com