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This Leeds tech startup grabs £1.5M to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in Leeds, York and Hull

Slingshot Simulations team

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical devices that can be used by data scientists and IT professionals before building and deploying actual devices. This technology has progressed beyond manufacturing and forayed into merging the world’s of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and data analytics.

Preps for wider rollout

Now, a University of Leeds spin-out, Slingshot Simulations, which claims to be a global pioneer in the digital twin sector, secured £1.5M investment. This investment comes after the first round that it raised in 2019 as a part of a £750,000 round that included funds from the university.

The investment round was led by existing investor NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance managed by Mercia and is a part of NPIF (Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund) and the UK government’s Future Fund. With the funds, Slingshot Simulations will be able to scale its operations and rollout its system to its first commercial customers.

Notably, The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is financially backed 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.

Will Clark of Mercia said: “David and his team have won international recognition for their work and their platform opens up new possibilities for businesses in areas such as construction, transport and logistics, product development and manufacturing. We are pleased to be able to fund them once again to help them launch their product into the market.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “With £500m of funding to back ambitious companies across the North, NPIF is committed to supporting ambitious businesses like Slingshot on their growth journey. This is an excellent example of an NPIF investee business growing in value, while driving innovation and creating new opportunities for the region.”

Grabs customers’ interest

Founded by David McKee in 2015, Slingshot Simulations has garnered interest from nearly 100 potential customers such as local authorities and construction firms from the US and Canada. The company will deploy its technology from February by taking small batches of new users at a given time.

Slingshot’s founder and CEO Dr David McKee said: “Digital twins have huge potential to improve our lives – to cut costs, improve public health, identify risks and reduce accidents. However until now the cost of this technology has limited its use to large corporations. This funding will take us one step closer to our goal to make digital twins accessible to organisations of all sizes.”

Solutions to real-life issues

Slingshot’s digital twin technology lets businesses create a virtual model of an object, location or building to test new ideas. For instance, it intends to find the best layout in a building to minimise COVID-19 infections or the most cost-effective route for goods from warehouse to delivery. Already, the company is used to finding ways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in Leeds, York and Hull as a part of the government-backed trial that could be one of the biggest digital twin projects of its kind.