Our company founder, Robert Palmer, has developed the Prospedia business model following more than a decade of personal investing and fundraising for automotive technology start-ups, and since 2015 in deliberation and meetings with many academic, industry and government colleagues. Using his established engineering consultancy, Advanced Automotive Technologies Limited, as the bedrock, Prospedia Capital introduces the first private equity seed-investment platform focused exclusively on early-stage companies developing hardware as well as software solutions for the next generation of vehicles.
Trading as Prospedia Capital, we aim to help early-stage companies raise funds quickly and efficiently so that innovators can focus on growing their business. Operating in the private equity markets, we directly address the “drag on innovation” highlighted by HM Treasury in its white paper published in 2017, which helped to inform the UK government’s industrial strategy and automotive sector deal. Our business model creates a unique online marketplace bringing together private equity investors with automotive innovators and technology experts.
Prospedia’s primary objective is to bridge the funding gap that currently exists in the automotive R&D sector between investors and innovators. Hence the focus on a professionally curated process of technical, legal, and financial due diligence giving SEIS/EIS investors the confidence to support early-stage companies. Our onboarding process leads to fast and efficient private sector co-funding, often required to match Innovate UK and LEP grants. We support early-stage companies including university spin-outs and start-ups by co-investing alongside sophisticated business angels and HNW investors as well as family offices interested in investing in seed-stage companies.
Equity crowdfunding platforms abound; what is unique is a platform focused solely on a vital industry sector with a supportive business model that can undertake the critical scrutiny, which is essential in giving business angels the confidence to invest. Professional partners supporting Prospedia include patent attorneys Reddie & Grose alongside SEIS/EIS and R&D tax experts MPA Group. Each partner has a strong client base and deep experience serving the automotive sector.
Prospedia has licensed from Envestors a sector-specific platform to form an integral part of the fast-growing Envestry network, which currently serves 12,000 investors. Envestors’ technical team has adapted our industry-focused platform to our unique specifications to meet the specific needs of the automotive R&D sector.
By aligning our business model with the autonomous, connected, electrified and shared (ACES) mobility technologies identified as being vital for the development of next-generation vehicles, Prospedia can also better support “access to finance” initiatives introduced by academia, government and industry. ACES technologies include advanced propulsion and energy storage systems, lightweight structures and materials, as well as intelligent mobility solutions. The automotive mainstream needs these developments globally as it strives for zero accidents and zero-emission vehicles fit for the 21st century, requiring a paradigm shift and fundamental change to its business model not seen in over 100 years, in fact, since 1 Dec 1913, when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line technique of mass production that would profoundly impact the 20th century.
A unique feature of Prospedia’s seed-investment platform is the creation of an expert network of senior academics and experienced automotive engineers. They help to carry out the specialised technology screening of the many cutting-edge proposals we regularly review. Being advised by relevant leaders in the academic community alongside experienced automotive industry professionals together with strategic partners including patent attorneys, Patent Box experts, accountants, business consultants, commercial lawyers and other professional advisors including marketing communication specialists ensures that our due diligence is complete and comprehensive – giving business angels the confidence to invest.
Prospedia collaborates strongly with academic institutions, government departments and agencies, as well as relevant industry bodies, and aligns with the UK government’s industrial strategy and sector deal for the automotive industry. We work closely with numerous organisations including the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Faraday Battery Challenge, Innovate UK, and Zenzic, to name but a few (see full list on Links page) as well as colleagues from other relevant stakeholders such as the British Business Bank and Startup Loans Company.
Our forecasts indicate that over the next five years, Prospedia’s seed-investment platform has the potential to invest into hundreds of micro, small and medium-sized early-stage companies. This investment will help to accelerate their growth and commercial viability with private equity; often supporting government grants awarded to knowledge-intensive automotive companies. Our prognosis, supported by preliminary research by Beauhurst, is a significant market with a total seed investment of £429 million required for automotive innovation to support more than 1,000 start-ups in the UK.
Our founder and chief executive Robert Palmer is the principal architect behind the Prospedia Capital business model. He is a natural born leader, passionate about the development of advanced technology, working in the dynamic, ever-changing, and challenging automotive environment.
A consummate professional, he is also an experienced entrepreneur, who has invested heavily in bringing Prospedia to market and is committed to seeing innovation thrive in the automotive industry. An excellent team builder, he’s brought together a highly experienced team of associates and professional partners to deliver his vision.
As a knowledgeable business angel investor and private equity fundraiser, he’s worked for many years in the automotive industry with technology developers with high growth potential as well as handling their investor and media relations. He is also a habitual LinkedIn blogger.
Our founder established his most recent start-up, Advanced Automotive Technologies Limited, in 2015 and based it at Silverstone in the heartland of the UK’s high-performance technology supercluster. It’s the precursor to Prospedia Capital, which introduces the new business model – an idea first thought about in 2005 with the fundraise for Freestream Cars.
Prospedia remains an actively involved member of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) serving and supporting most of its special interest groups. Initially established as an engineering consultancy, our founder has since repurposed the business to help bridge the £429 million funding gap needed to support more than a thousand start-ups in the automotive sector with much needed private equity seed funding.
Our founder is also a well-established PR consultant serving exclusively automotive technology companies including Ricardo for 10 years and Xtrac for 15 years. He established his eponymous consultancy known as Palmer Public Relations Limited in 1992. It continues to trade as Palmer PR to provide Prospedia clients with essential PR and strategic marketing support. The consultancy focuses on companies developing technical solutions that reduce emissions and road accidents, thus making road transport more efficient and our planet cleaner and safer.
Rob started his career as a technical apprentice then student engineer at Vauxhall Motors. Upon graduating, he became responsible for vehicle design, development, and product validation, as well as test planning, while Vauxhall supported his post-graduate Diploma of Management Studies. He was subsequently appointed chief press officer in GM’s UK public affairs department with responsibility for car-derived vans, trucks & buses, also military vehicles as well as corporate affairs including manufacturing investments. In this capacity, he also served as press secretary to GM’s vice-president responsible for the corporation’s global truck & bus operations.
A member of the Automobile Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Rob has also served as a member of Council of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). He’s a lifelong member of the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA), and one of the longest-serving members of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA). Rob has regular contact with the private equity investment community as a member of the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA).
He also serves several working groups as a member of the influential Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP). Having served both steering committees, Rob is also an ambassador for the Silverstone Technology Cluster, and a founder member of the Automotive Cybersecurity Forum. As a member ‘of good standing and with relevant expertise’ he has judged the CIPR Excellence Awards in the automotive category.
Our chief investment officer, and our founder’s longstanding business partner and close friend, Sean Butcher, is a finance executive, with previous commodities experience. Working with UHNW contacts in Europe and Asia for more than 20 years, he’s facilitated financing opportunities mainly in the investment market.
Previously, working as senior vice-president of Phoenix Partners Group, Sean also helped to build a total product offering within the physical energy space. He fully developed and executed the origination and marketing of refined products for this leading credit and equity derivatives inter-dealer broker with offices in New York, London and Switzerland.
In 2005, Sean successfully secured the future funding and sale of Freestream Cars to Caparo Industries (a fast-growing group with a €4 billion turnover), helping to settle its future by becoming a founding member with two partners from McLaren Automotive. The result was the design and development of one of the world’s fastest production track cars, the Caparo T1, which served as a technology showcase for the whole group. It was during this endeavour that he first reached out to Rob to assist with publicity, quickly forming a strong working partnership with our founder providing Caparo with strategic PR advice alongside Sean as marketing director.
Alex Tylee is an experienced automotive engineer, successful businessman and entrepreneur who gained his MEng at Imperial College London. He established Tylee Consulting in 2019, supporting SEIS/EIS businesses to deliver exceptional growth.
He’s also a co-founder, non-executive director and significant shareholder in Drive System Design, which he established in 2007. Since then the company has expanded into an engineering consultancy employing 130 high calibre engineers including 30 in the US.
Alex has also experienced the challenge of fundraising for its spin-off Evolute Drives; and like our founder has the battle scars to prove it, so can fully empathise with other automotive start-ups.
Andrew Everett’s (pictured on the right) former role as head of transport for what is now Innovate UK (previously Technology Strategy Board) means he too is well-qualified to understand the challenge of assessing and supporting early-stage companies.
His responsibilities at the TSB included delivering effective R&D programmes to support the development of innovative technologies, where he was tasked with multimillion-pound UK government investments to help accelerate automotive road transport developments.
Andrew has an MBA from Henley Management College, is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Charlotte Hirst is an executive coach with a keen interest in the Imposter Syndrome. Her professional practice combines her training in psychotherapy at the University of Oxford with her experience as an NLP Master Practitioner and advanced knowledge of the voice and communication.
A socially-minded entrepreneur, Charlotte is the director of a communications company that offers free interview training to individuals from challenging backgrounds. She is the former director of a successful business model within the education sector, and an experienced panellist who has appeared on Sky News, Sky Arts, and BBC Radio.
She supports our clients by implementing behavioural profiling and analysis within teams, using alongside other techniques the DISC behaviour assessment tool, embedding a healthy workplace culture strategy and supporting all communicative efforts regarding pitching to investors.
Prospedia’s highly creative digital producer, responsible for client investor videos, is Matthew Kaltenborn.
Matt realised he had a passion for photography and filmmaking while graduating from Rose Bruford’s prestigious European Theatre Arts programme with a first-class honours degree. His clients include Somerset House, Invest Saudi and ITV Studios, and his work has featured in The Guardian and on Channel 5.
Professor Steve Sapsford is chairman of the Propulsion Systems and Fuels Group of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and visiting professor at Cardiff University School of Engineering. As a member of the Industrial Advisory Board at Cardiff University, Steve provides feedback on global drivers and technology roadmaps as well as skills and tools requirements.
Before establishing his eponymous consultancy, SCE, Steve worked at Ricardo for 32 years, first as software director then gasoline engines global product group director before being appointed global market sector director and ultimately business strategy director. Before that, his responsibilities covered high-performance vehicles and motorsport, motorcycles and personal transportation, as well as fluid dynamics and simulation.
Steve’s current area of expertise is the development of automotive technology roadmaps. He’s a sought-after speaker who has delivered keynotes at the Royal Academy of Engineering, IMechE, MIA Energy-Efficient Motorsport Conference (EEMS) and World Motorsport Symposium.
Ava Scott is leading Prospedia and Beauhurst research into private equity flowing into the automotive sector, which will result in the UK’s first-ever benchmark financial report to be published in the Autumn of 2020. As research & consultancy associate at Beauhurst she has conceptualised, managed and delivered research reports for a diverse clientele including law firm Penningtons Manches, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Scottish Investment Bank.
Ava carries out the deep-dive analysis of Beauhurst research into the financial, location and sectoral data of the UK’s high growth companies and the complex ecosystem that surrounds them. She extracts critical insights and trends from these raw numbers, contributing to Beauhurst’s thought leadership in the enterprise investment space.
Previously, Ava was a researcher at Polygeia affiliated UCL-Lancet Commission into Migrant and Refugee Health; and director of Oxford Global, directing and chairing the debate of 50-100 school-aged students in model United Nation conferences (WHO and SPECPOL committees). The latter included researching and writing committee guides to explain complex epidemiology and political conflicts in an accessible and engaging way, also directing an international bilingual conference in Shanghai.
Prospedia is also grateful for the generous support and expertise of Guy Ainsley in the development of our Investment Readiness Level ™ scorecard and standardised financial modelling systems. Investors will appreciate that by creating a standard framework for reporting, for the first time, they will be able to compare many investment opportunities on precisely the same basis.
Guy is a visiting Fellow at Loughborough University School of Business & Economics, and module leader at the University of Birmingham Business School, where he holds a PhD in information quality, asymmetry, risk and decision-making. He is also qualified as an MEd in Teaching and Learning Higher Education having studied at the University of Sheffield, following post-graduation with an MSc in Major Programme Management from the Said Business School University of Oxford and has an MBA from Henley Business School.
Envestors has been incredibly supportive of Prospedia’s drive to plug the £429 million funding gap needed to support early-stage companies in the automotive technology sector. It was established in 2004 by a like-minded group with extensive experience in raising funding, not as investors but as entrepreneurs with a vision.
Its technical director, Jerry Plant, is a highly experienced engineer having served the Royal Navy for 34 years. He graduated from Cranfield University School of Management with an MBA in Business and Defence Administration preceded by a BSc in naval engineering at the Royal Naval Engineering College.
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, Envestors has offices in London, The Channel Islands and Dubai. It has won numerous awards including “Private Investor Network of the Year” on three occasions. Prospedia, with our focus on the automotive sector, is considered a welcome addition to the rapidly-expanding Envestry network.
Mike Price is the founder of MPA Group. A successful businessman, he’s been advising Prospedia’s founder and principal shareholder for many years. Mike is committed to the Prospedia business model, and his professional firm plays a crucial role in the assessment of a company’s readiness for investment and the determination of its pre-money valuation. Today, the MPA Group is the only professional services business specialising in all aspects of innovation, serving over a thousand clients.
Working closely with Prospedia, Paul Loustalan helps in the assessment of a client’s readiness for investment based on an evaluation of the validity and potential infringement risk of third-party patent rights.
A partner at Reddie & Grose, he handles patents in the advanced engineering, automotive, materials and consumer products fields. Reddie & Grose LLP is an internationally renowned firm of European patent, trademark and design attorneys.
Paul has experience in developing intellectual property portfolios for individual inventors, SMEs and multinational manufacturers. He advises on the most appropriate form, scope and combination of protection for the project at hand – whether that be patents, designs, copyright, or trade secrets – to build a robust and commercially appropriate IP portfolio.