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BGF backs drone detection firm Operational Solutions with £8m cash boost

Operational Solutions

BGF, a London-based growth capital investor, has invested £8m in Reading-based counter-drone company Operational Solutions Ltd (OSL).

Operational Solutions plans to use the funding to expand its recruitment programme with new roles that include R&D, engineering, and business development.

Founded in 2010, Operations Solutions provides drone defence and tailored consultancy for the defence, aerospace, and security sectors.

It works with major international airports, national infrastructure projects, and defence markets to address the growing challenges posed by unmanned aircraft systems in airspaces around the world.

The risk posed by unmanned aircraft systems to airspaces was underscored in 2018 when London’s Gatwick cancelled hundreds of flights following a drone sighting.

Operation Solutions has developed a proprietary intelligent software platform called FACE to protect organisations from drone disruption.

Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, FACE integrates and fuses real-time data from different sensors to detect, track, identify and manage drones and other objects.

The company has contracts with Heathrow and Gatwick airports and provides support to the UK Ministry of Defence.

It has recently signed a global cooperation agreement with Thales, a French aerospace company, to provide combined solutions into a range of markets. Right now, OSL employs around 70 people throughout the UK.

Operational Solutions CEO Mark Legh-Smith said: “This significant investment in our business is set to fast-track OSL’s growth ambitions. As well as creating new possibilities for our customers and providing job creation, we are looking forward to the strategic input and guidance from BGF’s Reading-based team.

“Our competitive edge is in being agile and adapting more rapidly than other operators in our sector to the ever-evolving challenges and opportunities that are presented by drones. We chose BGF because they can support us with invaluable insight and expertise to strengthen and accelerate our expansion across other markets, in the UK and internationally.”

Liam Pursall, an investor at BGF, said: “The inevitable and well-documented rise in the use of drones in the coming years will necessitate a clearly defined counter-drone and drone management proposition. Building on its first-mover advantage, OSL is well-positioned to help shape the counter-drone landscape in the UK and beyond, and we look forward to supporting the business as it builds on the impressive growth trajectory achieved to date.”

BGF was founded in 2011 and has since invested £3bn in more than 460 companies.