June 21, 2021

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

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 busines 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.