Dorset, the county of rolling hills, pastoral scenes reminiscent of the works of favourite son, the writer Thomas Hardy and Poundbury, Prince Charles’ model village, is not the first place you’d expect to find an aerospace play with an £80m valuation, right?
Wrong, actually. Gilo Industries, situated in Shaftesbury, Dorset, has been described as “the Disneyland of Engineering” according to its website. Its network of companies includes Parajet International, who make a “foot-launched backpack aircraft also known as a powered paraglider”, Gilo Industries Research, whose ambition is to “invent the next wave of cutting-edge aerospace solutions”, and Crighton Racing, which builds rotary powered motorcycles for racing.”
The company may have operated stealthily under the tech startup radar to date, but not any longer. A £30m investment from Chinese tech-venture fund Kuang-Chi Group has catapulted Gilo Industries into the mainstream media.
The investment sees the Chinese firm take a 40% stake in the business, giving it a valuation of £80m, and Gilo say they want to spend the new funds on expansion into the Asia-Pacific region, as well as further commercialising its aviation technology.
The company has no plans to move out of its Shaftesbury HQ, however. Founder Gilo Cardozo, explains; “It (the investment) is a really clear example of how international organizations look to all areas of Britain for innovation and entrepreneurship and how they can boost regional, national and global industries.”
Kuang-Chi themselves say that “despite some fears surrounding Brexit, innovation is booming in the UK and Kuang-Chi has confidence in the UK market”. So much so, in fact they plan to launch a $250m fund to invest in tech companies working in robotics, IoT, telecommunications and digital health, with a strong focus on the UK”
Form an orderly queue, startup founders. And maybe it’s time to resurrect those plans to escape the city, and buy that farmhouse in Cornwall. Nothing like a little native wisdom, ‘eh?