£200m South West Investment Fund announces first major deal

Press release 30 November 2023

The British Business Bank’s £200 million South West Investment Fund has announced its first major equity deal with a £500,000 equity investment in tech-led commercial waste and recycling business Binit.

The deal is part of a £750,000 funding round led by the South West Investment Fund appointed fund manager The FSE Group and includes co-funding of £250,000 from private equity investor Yeo Valley Associates.

The South West Investment Fund was launched in July this year by the government-backed British Business Bank to boost the supply of early-stage finance to small and medium-sized businesses across the entire the South West region.

Exeter-based Binit is a data-driven circular economy business that aims to transform the way businesses use waste and recycling services across the UK.

Based on Exeter Science Park, Binit was co-founded in 2016 by CEO Philippa Roberts, together with co-founder and former Non-executive Director Claire Harrold, who specialises in sustainability.

Binit has grown from its Exeter base to serve customers across the UK, including Specsavers and Pizza Express. It is a Living Wage employer and is working towards B Corp certification.

This is the company’s third investment round as it scales to go nationwide. It aims to double turnover and staff numbers to 15 in a year, while investing in new ‘bintech’ hardware, data systems and enhanced customer interfaces.

Philippa, who is a Chartered Waste Manager with more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, was inspired by her time working with a leatherback turtle project in Costa Rica during a student gap year, where she saw first-hand the impacts of plastic ocean waste.

She said:

The way businesses manage their waste is changing and that’s being driven by a corporate commitment to net zero, which is being pushed right down the supply chain. We are a next-generation, tech-led waste and recycling super-broker and that means we can help businesses deal with their waste in the most eco-friendly way, wherever they are in the UK.

Female founder teams still struggle to raise equity investment, so we are delighted to have secured this package. It’s great to have the regional focus of the South West Investment Fund, together with Yeo Valley Associates as impact investors, so this deal has been perfect for us as we scale up across the country.

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions, at the British Business Bank, said:

Philippa and Claire are determined to disrupt the market and vastly improve the way that businesses access and interact with waste and recycling services. Their ‘waste nothing’ mantra makes sound commercial and environmental sense and I’m delighted that the South West Investment Fund has been able to support their growth ambitions with the fund’s first equity investment in the region.

Ralph Singleton, The FSE Group’s Head of Equity, South West, said:

It has been wonderful working with a company who so passionately puts the needs of the planet at the forefront of everything they do. Binit’s ability to improve many of the issues faced by the waste disposal sector is key in supporting their customers as they work towards their own Net Zero ambitions. We are delighted to be supporting Philippa and the Binit team as they change their industry for the better.

Amy Crown, Head of Investments at Yeo Valley Associates, said:

We are delighted to invest in Binit, a disrupter to the waste market and a leader in developing a circular economy. We’re excited to support Binit as they expand their smart, responsive commercial waste and recycling service across the country and unlock waste reductions through accurate data.

Advisers on the deal were Field Seymour Parkes for FSE. Clarke Willmott for Yeo Valley Associates and Michelmores for Binit.

The South West Investment Fund covers the entire South West region and provides loans from £25k to £2m and equity investment up to £5m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to start up, scale up or stay ahead.

The purpose of the South West Investment Fund is to drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating local opportunity for new and growing businesses across the South West.

The South West Investment Fund was the first in a series of six new Nations and Regions Investment Funds to be launched by the British Business Bank, the government-owned business development bank. A total of £1.6 billion has been committed to the new regional funds to drive sustainable economic growth.

Applications for funding are made directly to the relevant fund managers who can be contacted via the South West Investment Fund website southwestinvestmentfund.co.uk.

Further information

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Notes to editors

About the South West Investment Fund

Operated by the British Business Bank, the South West Investment Fund provides a mix of debt and equity funding. The fund offers a range of commercial finance options with smaller loans from £25k to £100k, debt finance from £100k to £2m and equity investment up to £5 million. It works alongside the Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and Growth Hubs, as well as local intermediaries such as accountants, fund managers and banks, to support the South West’s smaller businesses at all stages of their development.

The funds in which the SWIF invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in: Bournemouth, Poole, Dorset, Somerset, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Plymouth, Torbay, Devon, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire.

The fund is managed by a team of four fund managers that have been appointed by the British Business Bank. Thery are SWIG Finance, FW Capital, Maven and the FSE Group.

Supported by Nations and Regions Investments Limited, a subsidiary of British Business Bank plc, the Bank is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. Neither Nations and Regions Investments Limited nor British Business Bank plc are authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The investment from the South West Investment Fund into the businesses mentioned in this release does not amount to any endorsement or warranty from Nations and Regions Investments Limited, the British Business Bank plc or the government of the United Kingdom.

About Binit

Binit works with its customers to reduce waste and drive up recycling rates through improved waste separation and management.

It’s app-based model, dubbed the Uber of bin collection, and tech-enabled bins each with a unique QR code, allows SMEs to share bins and can offer on-demand collection seven days a week. Binit uses a network of existing waste management companies and licensed delivery drivers without the need for heavy bin lorries.

Binit data can also identify things like high volume or low recycling rates, helping businesses to learn more about their commercial waste and reducing what they are throwing away.

About The FSE Group

The FSE Group provides tailored funding solutions and support for ambitious and innovative small and medium enterprises.

Driven by an economic impact rationale FSE is committed to supporting in the long-term, sustainable businesses that will grow, provide employment, and generate economic benefit in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

About Yeo Valley Associates

Yeo Valley Associates supports entrepreneurs who share our passion for creating great products and services to drive change to a more natural, healthy food system in the UK. We care deeply about our own impact and want to partner with people who feel the same. We seek out entrepreneurs who are highly driven, ambitious, and deeply passionate about their purpose.

As thought leaders in regenerative organic farming, we aim to support a diverse range of organisations which share our enthusiasm to help create a better food and farming system. We invest when we can add real value at the right time to make a real difference.

We are a flexible minority investor and consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis. We can either lead an investment or alternatively co-invest alongside like-minded funders. Our investments have included Wildfarmed, The Curators, Allplants, Equinox, MOMA Foods & Origin Coffee.