Bristol data specialist is acquired by defence giant

Cate Gwilliam and Roke’s iJamie Howkins

A Bristol company which was founded by military intelligence specialists has been bought by science and engineering firm Roke.

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will see Geollect become part of new business unit.

Cate and Richard Wiilliam launched the business just over five years ago.

The company had developed systems that collect data that allow organisations to identify opportunities and risks.

Roke is part defence firm Chemring and the new division will access and analyse open source data.

Chief executive Cate Gwilliam said: “When I sat down with my co-founder six years ago to outline the vision of Geollect, our primary mission was to build a global leader in geospatial intelligence and analysis.

“We were both very clear on the culture and the people we needed to make this happen. It was about putting people first and ensuring there were similar ambitions to be sector leaders. Most importantly, we wanted everyone to have fun. I truly believe we have gone a long way to achieving those early strategic goals.

“Roke’s acquisition of Geollect is aligned with that initial vision. We knew that to fulfil our true potential, we needed an organisation that had shared values and aspirations.

“Roke is the ideal fit for Geollect. Its vision and strategy align perfectly with our own, and I have no doubt that Roke will enable our team to operate to their full potential. The combined talents from Roke and Geollect will produce a global and I am really excited to be part of this journey.”

Roke’s managing director Paul MacGregor, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Geollect to the Roke family.

“With a focus on innovative geolocation technologies and outstanding delivery in support its customers, this acquisition is a valuable addition to Roke and will further accelerate our growth as a business.”

Geollect has  a subscription-based platform that is able to gather, present and analysis data.

Roke says the platform will complement Roke’s expertise in data ingestion, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science.

South West firm Momentum Corporate Finance advised Roke on the deal.

Alastair Boorman, Partner at Momentum, said: “We are delighted to have helped Roke complete another highly strategic acquisition. The combination of Roke and Geollect will bring significant benefits for customers of both parties and will greatly enhance Roke’s Intelligence as a Service capability by providing further access to open-source intelligence.

“This transaction demonstrates Momentum’s long-term client relationships, having worked with Roke and Chemring as they acquired Cubica and Q6 in 2020. We thoroughly enjoyed working with Paul, Jamie and the rest the team again and it is great to see Roke continuing to thrive and deliver on its organic and inorganic growth strategy.”

The acquisition will also bring 25 new specialist engineers into Roke, and access to new and markets including maritime, insurance, critical national infrastructure, UK Special Forces, and investigatory tradecraft.

The acquisition is also  part of Roke’s business strategy to facilitate Intellectual Property (IP) led growth, building on the continued investment in people, infrastructure, and product development.

In June 2021, Roke made its first acquisition through Cubica, a specialist in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data fusion and autonomy.

All Cubica’s employees joined Roke and its products and their capabilities are now used widely on Roke projects across multiple markets.

Over 850 engineers and business professionals work at hubs in Manchester, Woking, Gloucester, and from Roke’s headquarters in Hampshire.