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Seedcorn Fund Helps First Business

Published: 11th July 2007

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BiBCOM kicks off the new fund: Pictured from the left is Martin French, company mentor; Easa Taheri Oskouei, of BiBCOM; Jonathan Dixon, of SYIF and Rod Brew of SYIF.

A brand new pilot fund set up to specifically help South Yorkshire businesses to pioneer new technologies has awarded its first tranche of investment.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund’s (SYIF) Seedcorn fund has been established as a pilot to test ways of financing innovative businesses to take new technologies to market and the first recipient is Sheffield based BiBCOM Ltd, with a £120,000 investment.

Easa Taheri Oskouei, managing director of BiBCOM Ltd, sourced the Seedcorn funding for his BiB invention, a remote monitoring system working through mobile phone technologies, which allows the user to check a remote location.

The original application was Baby-BiB, which allows parents to check on their children.

BiB is a software application, which works through a normal mobile phone but enables the phone to be used to transmit live video footage of the child and surroundings.

The video camera on the phone is activated via 3G technology, once the parent calls the handset from another phone. The caller can then both see and hear the child in real time.

BiB-Sense is also available as an extra electronic accessory that broadens the use of this technology in many other sectors, including sheltered homes and care centers.

Easa said: "The idea originally came for Baby-BiB, as a solution both for consumers and the mobile phone industry. As the father of a young child, I know how important it is for parents to check their children are OK when they're apart.

"Using Baby-BiB, parents keep an eye on their children at any time, even when the children are asleep and you don't want to disturb them with a phone call."

"From the mobile phone industry's perspective, recent developments in 3G technology mean mobiles are capable of considerably more than they are currently offering."

"Phone companies are keen to discover different services that will use this 3G technology, and BiB is exactly the sort of service they are looking for.
BiB uses the most advanced network security technology available to prevent unauthorised access by a third party."

"The £120,000 funding from South Yorkshire Investment Fund enabled me to put real marketing measures in place and launch the product with the kind of profile raising measures that would get it noticed, backed by a website through which the product can be purchased and downloaded."

Easa has now got the interest of many local authorities, which see the BiB products as a potential solution to communications problems in sheltered housing where there is no landline connectivity. He has also had an expression of interest from a large northern local authority over agency rights and licensing of the product.

Rod Brew, investment manager at SYIF, said: "Easa approached SYIF directly and after considering his strong background in engineering and his business plan to accelerate the growth of his company, we decided that he was a perfect candidate for the Seedcorn Fund."

Alongside the funding which Easa was eligible to receive, SYIF were also able to appoint Martin French from their Mentorbank , to help Easa with business decisions and marketing plans.

Bibcom was advised and secured part-funding for the marketing project through Business Link South Yorkshire and Objective 1.

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).