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Oxford Investment Opportunity Network backs Mould Tooling Innovators
Surface Generation secures £450,000


As part of a £450,000 funding round, members of Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION) have provided £140,000 of new cash to mould tooling technology innovators, Surface Generation. This investment has been matched with an additional £140,000 from Bank of Scotland Corporate’s Growth Capital team under the unique Co-Investment Programme arrangement between the Bank and OION. High net worth individual investors, who had previously supported Surface Generation, contributed the balance. OION is Europe’s leading business angel technology investment network that matches investors to fast-growing technology companies.

Based in Rutland, Surface Generation has developed an innovative technology that creates easily changeable moulds for carbon fibre composite tooling, which companies can use to make the parts and components for manufacturing processes that previously required individually-created, expensive moulds. More specifically, Surface Generation’s Near-net Shape Pin Tooling technology is used to produce expendable ceramic and polymeric patterns for prototyping, whilst its Subtractive Pin Tooling technology is used to create metallic tools for production components.

Ben Halford, Surface Generation’s CEO, said: “In simple terms, think of our mould-creation process like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Our processes move the columns up and down allowing the creation of the required shape for any mould.”

Surface Generation’s products are particularly aimed at industries working with carbon fibre components, notably aerospace. And, as Ben Halford explained: “Our re-useable mould system is especially cost-effective for short manufacturing runs of high-end components. If you are building an aeroplane, for example, then you may only require a few hundred of certain parts and having to create individual conventional moulds is very expensive and time-consuming.”

When a new design is being prototyped, inevitably there are changes to the precise specification of components as the prototype is perfected. Surface Generation’s technology fits perfectly with this process as moulds can be reconfigured and immediately re-used.

There are further environmental benefits as the moulds take less energy to produce in the first place. Ben Halford commented: “Our whole approach is based on ensuring ‘right first time design’ that reduces tool production costs and lead times by up to 90% and cuts product time to market by up to 40%.”

Commenting on OION, Halford said: “This is the second time that we have secured funding through OION, and it has again been a refreshingly straightforward process. Eileen Modral and her team are very easy to work with. On this occasion, OION’s involvement has facilitated the investment from Bank of Scotland Corporate, and we are delighted to have the Bank on board as a new investor. We are going to use the new funds to continue trials with our growing customer base, and to expand our operations in Europe, North America and Asia.”

This most recent investment round is Surface Generation’s third and earlier investors in the company included NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Surface Generation is aiming for a Series A stock offering later this year, and an IPO in 2010/11.

Eileen Modral, OION Investment Network Manager, said: “We are very pleased that we were able to help Surface Generation secure vital funding for a second time. The company’s technology can clearly generate significant savings in process costs for the manufacturing industry, and we hope the new funding round will help bring continued success.”

The Co-Investment Programme was launched by OION and Bank of Scotland Corporate’s Growth Capital team in early 2008. Through the £2 million Programme, the Bank will match funds from OION investors in innovative technology companies.

Malcolm Kpedeko, Associate Director at Bank of Scotland Growth Capital, said: “Surface Generation is exactly the kind of innovative company that the Co-Investment Programme was set up to assist. We are delighted to be able to help another entrepreneur develop great products, and we will follow the company’s progress with interest.”

- ENDS -
Editors notes
Press enquiries to: Margaret Henry, Oxford Investment Opportunity Network.
Tel: +44 (0)1865 811199 E-mail: m.henry@oxin.co.uk

Images available on request
1. A reconfigurable mould produced by Surface Generation, which has raised £450,000 with the help of Oxford Investment Opportunity Network.

2. A technician uses Surface Generation’s reconfigurable injection mould to produce fibre reinforced samples for the automotive industry.

About Surface Generation Ltd
Surface Generation is a privately owned UK company that was founded in 2002 by a team including Pera and the University of Cambridge to commercialise Reconfigurable Pin Tooling (RTP). Today, Surface Generation markets its Near-net-shape Pin Tooling (NPT) and complementary Subtractive Pin Tooling (SPT) technology to clients in the worldwide Aerospace and Automotive sectors.

No matter how good computer models are, companies must test their products by flying, driving or crashing prototypes before selling them to customers. These parts must be at final specification stage and for large carbon fibre composite components, such as those found in the latest fuel efficient aeroplanes and cars, tooling is required to produce them.

Current mould making techniques have been developed for the mass production of hundreds of thousands of parts with large amounts of material and time consuming machining operations required in order to create each tool. In addition, they cannot easily be re-used which makes the manufacture of functional prototypes and relatively short production run components (thousands) extremely expensive - accounting for up to 40% of total budgets.

Surface Generation’s RPT technology addresses these issues by allowing the manufacture of expendable polymeric and ceramic patterns (NPT) and re-usable metallic moulds (SPT) for prototyping and low volume manufacture – providing a rapid, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution. For more information: www.surface-generation.com

About Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION)
Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION) is Europe’s most successful technology business angel network that links investors with entrepreneurs seeking business development funds up to £2 million.
OION holds monthly meetings where selected companies from across the UK pitch their proposals to OION’s members, which include over 150 active business angels, VCTs and fund representatives.

Many of these companies are university spin-outs and OION has strong links with universities with a reputation for spinning out quality technology companies such as: Warwick, Oxford, Bristol, University College London and Imperial College London.

OION has two successful sister networks. Thames Valley Investment Network links investors in the Reading and Thames Valley area with companies in the general technology, media and green tech sectors seeking funding from £150,000 to £750,000. Oxford Early Investments helps very early stage companies raise funding from £25,000 to £150,000.

OION is managed by Oxford Innovation Ltd (www.oxin.co.uk), the UK’s leading operator of Innovation Centre premises for growing companies, and sponsored by Laytons, Frank B Dehn & Co, NESTA and Bank of Scotland Corporate. For more information: www.oion.co.uk

About the Co-Investment Programme
On 29 January 2008, Bank of Scotland Growth Capital and Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION) formally launched a Co-Investment Programme that provides a new source of funding for innovative companies.

Under the terms of the Co-Investment Programme the Bank has made available £2 million to invest during 2008 alongside investor members of OION, and its sister investment networks, Thames Valley Investment Network and Oxford Early Investments. The Bank will typically invest from £25,000 to £250,000 per deal, with all investments being made on exactly the same terms as OION’s investor members.

About Bank of Scotland’s Growth Capital team
Bank of Scotland’s Growth Capital team makes direct equity investments into a variety of businesses across a range of sectors. It makes investments directly from the Bank’s balance sheet, not from a fund. It therefore has the flexibility to work with management teams to facilitate an exit at the right time for the business itself.

Since 2001 the team has made over 40 investments worth some £200 million. Recent investments include: Red Spider Technology, Cel-F Solar, Rocela Group, Pi Capital, Leaseway and Artimi Inc.

It looks for the following criteria in potential investee companies:
• Two years’ revenue with a positive sales trend
• Exhibits above average growth
• Experienced, well-balanced management team
• Large UK or global market
• Competitive advantage period of three to four years
• Strong corporate governance
• Good exit prospects
• Equity requirement £1m and above
For more information: www.hbosplc.com


Publisher Contact Information:

The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION)
+ 44 (0)1865 811199
m.henry@oxin.co.uk

Company profile of The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION)
Past press releases of The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION).

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