‘Digital twin’ pioneer raises £1.5m as it prepares for launch

An image showing Google Maps side by side a digital version of York created by Slingshot Simulations

Slingshot Simulations, a Leeds-based start-up which is a pioneer in the field of ‘digital twin’ technology, has raised a further £1.5m of investment as it prepares to roll out its system to its first commercial customers.

The funding comes from existing investor NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), as well as the Government’s Future Fund. The money will help the business to scale its operations.

Slingshot’s technology allows businesses to create a virtual model of an object or a location to test new ideas – for example, to find the best layout in a building to reduce Covid-19 infections, or the most cost-effective route for goods from warehouse to delivery.

David McKee CEO and CTO of Slingshot Simulations

It is already being used to explore ways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in Leeds, York and Hull as part of a Government-backed trial which will be one of the biggest digital twin projects of its type.

Slingshot has already had interest from around 100 potential customers including construction firms and local authorities from as far afield as Canada and the US.

It will start to deploy its technology from February, taking on small batches of new users at a time.

Founded as a spin-out from the University of Leeds, Slingshot was first backed by NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance in 2019 as part of a £750,000 round which also included investment from the university.

Slingshot’s CEO, Dr David McKee, also sits on the board of the global trade body, the Digital Twin Consortium, alongside top executives from Microsoft and Dell.

He 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.”

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.”