Loading...

A robotic picking platform and a digital identity platform grab Dorset Business Angels investor attention

Dorset Business Angels (DBA) hosted their quarterly pitch event at the Bournemouth Carlton Hotel.  The investor audience first enjoyed 40 mins of networking and conversation amongst themselves, before taking their seats to assess 5 pitching businesses seeking investment, with a hybrid of in-person pitches and an online pitch.

In a ‘Dragons type Den’ initiative each presenting business has a strict ten minutes to make a compelling case for investment, followed by ten minutes of investors posing questions to the presenting entrepreneurs. Three of the businesses were unsuccessful in their pitch on the evening, failing to gain any current investor interest.

An Autonomous Robotic Picking Platform

A Company specialising in robotics technology, initially for agricultural settings, with a vision to ‘protect humans from poor pay and working conditions, increase productivity and reduce labour risk’ took to the floor. The industry problem and opportunity was identified as globally there is a critical labour shortage for farmers, resulting in unharvested crops being left to rot and that without picking capacity, farmers are reducing production, resulting in significant financial losses.

The solution offered by the business is a range of robotic vehicles which utilise robotic arms with AI and a state-of-the-art navigation system that can be safely employed in agriculture, alongside human pickers to harvest a variety of crops. The business boasts a wealth of robotics experience in its team and says that its innovative solutions are extremely cost effective, with a system driving a 3- year payback, in asparagus harvesting alone.

The market size was identified, initially targeting hand-picked crops in areas with increasing human labour risk, such as grape picking (£5 bn picking cost of non-wine grapes globally), flower picking (£0.5bn) and asparagus picking (£117m).

The business was seeking £500,000, with a Pre-Money Valuation of £2,500,000, to enable it to become revenue generating within 12 months.  6 expressions of interest were made.

Digital identity platform

A company which offers a digital identity platform was the final pitch of the evening; One of the industry’s largest problems, is still the manual gathering, updating, and sharing of corporate information for enterprise due diligence. This Company provides a system that allows corporates to create a digital identity by facilitating the permission/authorised sharing of due diligence credentials that are verified and risk assessed by regulated institutions.

The business explained how existing compliance processes are lengthy, cumbersome and repetitive, needing to be repeated for every client, every year.

It looked at the issues when due diligence is broken:

  • Significant reputational risk, as experienced by NatWest bank which faces a £340m fine after admitting ‘money-laundering’ failings.
  • Industries hit with fines – a top UK law firm fined a record sum for breaching money-laundering rules
  • Innovative companies blocked from growth – a Fintech having to postpone its $9bn flotation after regulator flags concern.

The expert team behind the digital identity platform was introduced, all with a track record of building RegTech solutions. What powers the platform was explained and how the business was responding to strong market demand with potential clients such as The Crown Commercial Service, PWC, Chubb, Linklaters and Accenture. A paid pilot is ongoing with law firm Webber Wentzel.

Raising £500k to make the platform ‘the industry agnostic and ready to scale across Europe.’ 4 expressions of interest were received.

The unsuccessful pitches were a meal delivery service for businesses, a digital platform bringing together elements of fan fiction, gaming, multimedia streaming & classic storytelling and a platform combining the functions of several apps, dedicated to group bookings, aiming to simplify organising nights out with friends. Whilst no expressions were received for these pitches on the evening they may get interest subsequently from the wider DBA membership and subscribers.

DBA also welcomed Rob Jones, Senior Investor Director from sponsor Investec Wealth and Investment who gave a brief but informed presentation on ‘Responses to increased market volatility’

Dorset Business Angels Chairman, Don McQueen commented, “It was great to welcome a group of such experienced and high calibre investors. There was lots of interesting and insightful questioning, with investors drawing on their individual sector experience to probe further.

“We always encourage new guests to our pitch evenings.  It’s worth coming along to find out what Angel investing is all about – we promise that you won’t be expected to get your cheque book out on the night!”

DBA was formed in 2013 and provides quality, private equity investment opportunities to local high net worth (HNW) and sophisticated investors (SI). Any investments are in the form of an equity investment and not a debtor’s loan. Investments are made across all sectors.

Angel investment might come from a single investor, or it could be 2 or 3 Angels pooling funds together to support a company as a syndicate.

DBA is sponsored by Saffery Champness Accountants, Ellis Jones Solicitors and Investec Wealth and Investment. To book on to the pitch event visit

www.dorsetbusinessangels.co.uk/events