Synapse is awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Leicester, after securing £380,000 of grant income

Synapse – a business spreadsheet collaboration company based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus – has concluded the 2014/5 financial year with a total of £380,000 secured in grant and investment income. In addition, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Leicester has just been awarded to further accelerate product development.

Started in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Brian Donnelly, Synapse has tripled in size to 18 people during the 2014/5 financial year. A £250,000 SMART Grant from Innovate UK, a £25,000 investment from Finance Birmingham, a £15,000 grant secured via a Coventry University project, and a £90,000 grant from The Birmingham Post’s Regional Growth Fund have supported the tech start-up’s rapid growth. Revenues have grown from £300,000 in 2012 to over £1.3 million in 2014.

Synapse’ largest clients include a high street bank and a leading Swedish furniture retailer.

Brian Donnelly, CEO of Synapse Information Ltd said: “Despite the prevalence of enterprise software, companies large and small still opt to produce financial reports using spreadsheets, which are manually cut and pasted together every time amends and new data are inputted. Spreadsheets offer employees a familiar, flexible format, but the time wasted and significant margin for error created by cutting and pasting various versions – sometimes as many as 200 versions are being worked on simultaneously –is bad for business.

“Synapse has spent three years developing a collaborative solution which connects standard spreadsheets through our cloud service and automates all of the cutting and pasting work in the background. Every change made by a user ripples through to every other user in a controlled and auditable manner, so ‘one version of the truth’ is instantly accessible across the business. There is no software to install or buy and no disruption to business as usual, which is resonating with our clients.

“The three grants we secured in the 2014 financial year – together with the investment from Finance Birmingham – has enabled the team to triple in size to 18. The newly awarded Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant will enable us to carry out much more product development work during this coming 2015 financial year, alongside a team from the University of Leicester.”

Synapse’s growth has also been supported by loan finance from Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART), which is also based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus.

The previous business founded by Brian Donnelly was relocated from the UK in order to grow the business exponentially in California’s ‘Silicon Valley’. Over a series of investment rounds with US venture capitalists, he raised a total of $30 million, enabling the team to grow to 160 with a customer base of 70 large clients, before exiting the business and subsequently returning to the UK.

Brian Donnelly added: “I made the decision to create a new start-up in Birmingham because the wealth of companies in the region makes it easier to establish a strong customer base. In addition, recruiting a high-skilled team of software engineers and marketers is much more straightforward and inexpensive than it would be in London. Birmingham is significantly underrated as a location for tech businesses.”

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