Top Row, Left to Right: James Walkerdine, Sue Barnard, Phil Greenwood
Bottom Row, Left to Right: Martin Clark, Ben Hookway, Ryan Bevington
Lancaster-based language analysis business, Relative Insight has received investment to enable further growth from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
Relative Insight was founded in 2012 by James Walkerdine and Phil Greenwood after a 10-year research project with Lancaster University’s linguistic and cyber security departments. In the beginning the company used its language analysis technology to help law enforcement agencies identify criminals masquerading as children in chat rooms.
Today, they apply the same methods to help brands interact and communicate more effectively with their audiences, focusing on comparison of the way people speak to derive insights that fuel sharper strategy and smarter communication. Users of the technology are able to identify golden nuggets of inspiration born out of discovery rather than simply typed into a search bar. The company’s current client base includes Disney, Unilever, Havas and R/GA, and it continues to apply its technology to crime detection.
R/GA, a New York-headquartered international advertising agency and subsidiary of Interpublic, the worldwide marketing agency group, has selected Relative Insight as one of eight early stage technology businesses onto its Marketing Tech Venture Studio programme.
The investment was managed by Maven Capital Partners, who was appointed earlier this year to manage the £57.5m NPIF – Maven Equity Finance fund, focused on providing flexible equity funding to high-potential SMEs primarily based in the North West, with a focus on supporting their growth aspirations and contributing to regional economic development, job creation and innovation. Relative Insight is a strong example of the ambitious and dynamic businesses NPIF can support across its investment area.
Martin Clark, Investment Manager at Maven, said: “Maven is very pleased to have secured this investment into Relative Insight and look forward to working with the talented management team, helping them achieve their ambitious growth plans. Relative Insight epitomises the kind of early stage growth business that the equity finance part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is designed to assist.”
Ben Hookway, CEO at Relative Insight, added: “The investment from Maven will allow us to ramp up our customer facing operations, accelerate development, and capitalise on the proliferating opportunities in the UK and, increasingly, the USA. Having customers like Unilever and Disney proves that we have a valuable solution and the investment will allow us to scale to new customers.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at British Business Bank, said: “We have been pleased with the response from the Lancashire business community to the launch of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. NPIF is making a real difference to businesses in the area and this latest investment is testament to that. Relative Insight is a good example of the appetite that exists for growth investment in the region, and we are pleased that this funding will allow the Relative Insight team to continue to grow their business.”
Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “Relative Insight is a great example of collaboration between higher education and industry in Lancashire, and the LEP actively encourages all of our businesses and colleges to find exciting ways to work together to drive innovation. But as well as great ideas and passionate people businesses need investment to help them grow. This is why investors like Maven, working with the NPIF, to support firms like Relative Insight are vital to the county’s economic growth.”
The Northern Powerhouse 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.