Growth Funding for Innovair
Updated: Jan 29
Year founded: 2015
Sector: Industrial Robotics, Technology Solutions
Number of staff: 4
The Aberdeen-based business helps asset and site owners visualise their environments, maintain asset integrity, and complete dangerous tasks without putting people at risk. Working predominantly for construction, rail, utilities and oil and gas companies, the experienced team of chartered surveyors, inspection engineers, aeronautical and mechanical engineers utilise state-of-the-art robotic technology to deliver unique services to their clients. With their robotic solutions they operate in increasingly complex and challenging environments thus removing people from harm and reducing costs for their customers.
To support their growth, we provided Innovair with a business loan which will allow them to invest in innovative solutions, bring more resource into the business and increase their marketing efforts to a wider customer base. To give more insight into the company as well as their experience of raising funding, we asked their Solutions Director, Stuart Lawson, a few questions.
Can you remember a particularly good day in the business? What happened?
Stuart: 2019 has been a good year for us so far, overcoming many challenges of an early stage business and enjoying much initial success. The other two directors and I only went full time last summer and since then we have signed up many new clients as we position ourselves within the industry. We had a particularly good day the other week when we had all our team out on projects across the UK, and in Northern Ireland! And for a small business doing service work that is very significant.
What are your growth plans in general?
Stuart: Our survey capability is about being able to visualise and measure clients’ environments and our inspection capability allows us to delve further into the detail and analyse specific assets and structures, to help clients maintain asset integrity. The robots allow us to go into more hazardous and complex environments without putting people in danger. This whole service package is applicable globally, so we are aiming to take it across Scotland and the UK first and then worldwide. Longer term we will look to grow through Europe, the Middle East and America as we pursue our major international target areas. We recently conducted several feasibility projects which frame out the solutions we want to bring to the market. The loan is helping us to finance additional research and development into the first of these solutions, as we implement our technology roadmap.
How did you find out about this loan fund? Why did it seem like a suitable source of funding?
Stuart: We are account managed by Scottish Enterprise and the Financial Readiness Specialist in Aberdeen, Brian Wood, put us in touch. We were weighing up options for larger investment from high net worth individuals or other private equity funds but when we broke down our requirements and fully evaluated the options the support you could offer us fitted best with our medium-term plans. It ticked a lot of boxes for us, so it made sense for us to utilise this fund to push our business forward over the next few years.
Is there something that stood out about this loan fund?
Stuart: As I said, it was a good fit for us. The team were easy to deal with, quickly understood our business and came to visit us to talk through the funding. Through Innovair and previous businesses our team have been involved in, we have seen a lot of products available through high street banks or otherwise but there can be difficulty in actually getting to a decision point. That wasn’t the case here and it was pretty easy and straightforward to go through the process with you. You’re quite new and we’re quite new, so there was a good alignment and appetite to help us.
What would you tell someone looking for funding, particularly debt funding?
Stuart: Know what you need and what you’re going to spend it on. Have a solid structure for your business and get the numbers right – evaluate where and when you might come up against issues and feel you need to take too much too soon. An incremental approach can be a great way to grow your business and, with a proven ability to service the debt, it will put you in a better place for future funding.