Big data gives boost for small batch manufacturing

A tech start-up that harnesses data from machine tools to drive big improvements in productivity in high-value manufacturing has praised South Yorkshire’s business fast-track programme Y-Accelerator for its support, ahead of a pitch to secure further investment in their business.

Chris Iveson and Robin Hartley have developed their performance enhancing cloud-based tech start-up – Boost Manufacturing Technologies – at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with the help of the Y-Accelerator programme.

The three-month intensive programme – a partnership between Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO), Gripple, Sheffield City Region Growth Hub and UKSE – stress tests innovative entrepreneurs, validating their concepts, building strong customer propositions and financial models and getting them ready for the market.

Boost Manufacturing Technologies’ core product crunches data from Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines to reveal insights that enable manufacturers to boost their productivity and profitability. The idea for the business grew out their work with the AMRC’s Process Monitoring and Control team, where they have spent several years developing the technologies that underpin Boost.

Chris said: “We believe that by using big data, small batch manufacturing can be as efficient as mass production. To enable this, Boost provides batch manufacturers with the information they need to make smart, data-driven decisions about their shop floor operations and wider business strategy.”

Chris and Robin have already secured pre-seed funding to develop the product/market fit and de-risk the business model. After developing the opportunity further with test-bed customers, Boost aims to launch in November 2020. Chris, who is currently AMRC Commercialisation Manager will be taking on the role of CEO and Project Engineer Robin Hartley will become the CTO.

During their time on the Y-Accelerator programme, the Boost team said they gained valuable business insights from weekly specialist sales and marketing workshops, alongside one-to-one sessions with the Y-Accelerator team.

Chris said: “The Y-Accelerator constantly pushed us to get out of our comfort zone – we learned so much more by getting out there and speaking to manufacturers than we would have done by developing the product without any market validation.”

“The programme did an excellent job of helping us to think differently about our business model and value proposition, as well as introduce us to industry experts and prepare to launch our business.”

To end the 12-week accelerator, the Boost team and other programme participants pitched their innovative business ideas to a panel of investors. Following a successful pitch, the Boost team are engaged with several investors with the aim of securing investment prior to spinning out the business.

Amanda Parris, Business Growth Manager for RiDO, said: “We at the Y-Accelerator offer a unique opportunity that provides applicants the chance to really hone in on their skills.

“It’s been amazing to see some of these exciting ideas evolve into solid business plans, as well as to see our participants enjoy the growth and success their predecessors on the programme have enjoyed.”