Proptech Bimsense raises further £750k from NPIF to help building owners meet new safety rules
A proptech business that helps owners of high-rise buildings to meet strict new safety rules has raised a further £750,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Bimsense’s platform helps companies comply with the Building Safety Act, which aims to improve safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and is being introduced in phases since its release last year. The funding will enable the Hull-based company to add new features to its Operance platform in response to the latest measures to come into force.
The Act requires owners of ‘higher-risk buildings’ – which covers around 13,000 properties – to register them with the Building Safety Regulator and assess the safety risks. As from 1 October they also have to produce a safety case report to show how the risks will be managed, while in April 2024 further provisions come into force on the collection of building information.
Bimsense was founded seven years ago by Ian Yeo and Scott Pilgrim, who specialise in building information modelling (BIM). They launched Operance in 2020 with the help of funding from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance. The latest round, the third to date, brings the total received from the fund to over £1.8m.
Operance is now used by housing authorities such as Campden, Basildon and Harrow and construction firms including Kier, Higgins, United Living, Vermont and Rider Levett Bucknall. Bimsense increased turnover by 44% in the financial year ending in August. The company, which currently employs 22 staff, expects to create six new jobs in the year ahead.
Scott Pilgrim, Chief Product Officer at Bimsense, said: “We are excited to secure this additional funding which supports our mission to manage the world’s building information and create safe, harmonious places for everyone. Our Operance platform has been at the forefront of innovation, helping companies meet the requirements of the new building safety regime efficiently. This funding will enable us to take it to the next level.”
Maurice Disasi, Investment Manager at Mercia said: “The Building Safety Act will bring about major changes in the construction and property industry and will drive uptake of digital technology. Operance is the first platform that has been specifically designed to help firms meet the requirements of the Act. This latest funding will enable the company to add new features and expand its presence in an industry that is ripe for change.”
Debbie Sorby, Senior Manager at British Business Bank, said: “This investment exemplifies the impact the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund has in supporting the strengthening of communities and bettering the lives of people across the country. Bimsense is an excellent example of a company working to ensure that modern technologies exist to help make industries more efficient, especially where keeping on top of regulations is key. I look forward to seeing the team grow as Bimsense continues to set an example for the wider construction industry.”
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.
Generator Group has successfully completed a c. € 750M global refinancing with Ares Management, Värde Partners and Waterfall Asset Management.
The transaction, which involved 13 jurisdictions worldwide, featured a combination of European debt facilities (denominated in EUR, GBP and DKK) and private bond issuances of circa. €440 million for Generator’s European arm, which was backed by Ares Management, and U.S. debt facilities of circa. $330 million for Generator’s U.S. arm, which was backed by Generator’s existing lenders Waterfall Asset Management and Värde Partners.
Owned by Queensgate Investments, Generator Group consists of 21 hotels, c. 12k beds across 17 tier one cities, includes the Generator and Freehand brands, and enjoys c. 95% of EBITDA from owned real estate. All Generator properties are independently branded and operated by a fully integrated in-house management team. Generator Group 2023 earnings are EUR 225M (vs EUR 180M 2019) and EBITDA of EUR 75M (vs EUR 50M 2019) up circa. 40% from 2022.
Generator’s strong performance post-Covid has enabled Queensgate to refinance Generator’s global debt with direct lenders in a challenging financial market.
Queensgate acquired the European arm of Generator in March 2017, with traditional senior financing from lenders including Société Générale, London Branch and HSBC Bank plc, as well as mezzanine financing from Apollo Global Management and later made a series of well-timed acquisitions of U.S. assets throughout 2018 and 2019, including acquiring Freehand Hotels in October 2019, and expanding with the Paramount Hotel in New York.
Generator Group is now armed to continue its strategy of superlative organic growth, asset heavy expansion and asset light expansion.
Jason Kow, CEO Queensgate Investments said “This is one of the largest and most innovative real estate financings that the market has seen in years, involving multiple outgoing lenders across 10 countries. We are hugely grateful for our new partnership with Ares in Europe and our strengthened existing partnership with Varde and Waterfall in the US”.
Brown Rudnick assisted Queensgate with the arrangement and structuring of the global financing, as well as the legal execution.
Queensgate advises and manages around £3 billion worth of assets through the suite of Queensgate Investments Funds. Queensgate differentiates itself by its flexible, nimble and non-institutional approach to producing superior risk adjusted returns.
Generator is Europe’s fastest growing boutique accommodation brand with hostels and affordable boutique hotels located in the most central locations across Europe and North America including Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Venice, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Rome, Madrid, Miami and Washington D.C.
Ares Management is a leading global alternative investment manager established in 1997. It offers clients primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. Launched in January of 2022, The Ares European Real Estate Debt team has originated and closed on over £1.1 billion of real estate loans across Europe.
Waterfall Asset Management is a global alternative investment manager founded in 2005, focused on specialty finance opportunities within asset-backed credit, whole loans, real assets and private equity. Waterfall is headquartered in New York, with additional offices in London, Dublin, and Hong Kong. Waterfall has approximately $12.5 billion in assets under management.
Värde Partners is a leading global alternative investment firm specializing in credit and credit-related assets. Värde currently manages approximately $13 billion in assets with teams in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific focused on Corporate & Traded Credit, Real Estate, and Financial Services & Diversified Private Credit.
Brown Rudnick is an international law firm that serves clients around the world from offices in key financial centres across the UK, Europe and the US. The firm combines ingenuity with experience to achieve great outcomes for our clients in high-stakes litigation and complex business transactions. It delivers partner-driven service and incentivises its lawyers to collaborate in the client’s best interest; putting excellence before scale, focusing on industry-driven, client-facing practices where Brown Rudnick’s lawyers are recognised leaders.
Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.