Edinburgh-headquartered consultancy Optima Partners doubling staff after seven-figure BGF boost

Edinburgh-headquartered data science and transformation consultancy Optima Partners is to develop its offering and accelerate plans to more than double staff after receiving a seven-figure cash injection from investment company BGF.

Optima Partners says it offers design-led customer and digital transformation services to clients across the customer, carbon and health sectors, and using machine learning, it identifies opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer engagement, marketing and servicing to maximise client return on investment.

It has netted £2.3 million from BGF, which was formerly known as the Business Growth Fund and says it is the UK and Ireland’s most active growth capital investor. Optima says the investment will support the scaling of its propositions by growing its skilled workforce and developing its software as a service (SaaS) solutions, and will help realise its aim of scaling to 100 employees from 44, and expanding into new markets and sectors.

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It noted its “strong” trading performance, saying it has achieved 55 per cent year-on-year growth, delivering £5.75 million in full-year revenue at the end of June of this year.

Optima chief executive Alan Crawley said: "BGF’s investment will help us scale our business, allowing us to serve more customers. Enhancing the application of advanced data sciences, alongside the practical application of [artificial intelligence] and machine learning, are other key pillars in our growth and expansion plans.”

Karen Thomas-Bland is investing alongside BGF and has been appointed as a non-executive chair at Optima as the result of an introduction from the growth investment company’s Talent Network, which is billed as the UK’s largest pool of non-executive directors.

She is described as bringing “significant” consulting and data science experience to Optima, with former roles including partner of strategy and transformation at IBM Global, executive director of strategy and transformation at KPMG, and providing buyside investment assessment for Accenture and EY.

'BGF’s investment will help us scale our business, allowing us to serve more customers,' says Optima boss Alan Crawley. Picture: contributed.

She said: “Optima Partners’ approach combines key elements of my previous consulting and data science expertise, so as soon as I was introduced via BGF’s Talent Network, it felt like a natural fit. It’s a privilege to join Alan and the growing team as the company scales into new areas with an industry-leading offer.”

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Mr Crawley said Ms Thomas-Bland’s appointment “will be of great value” given her relevant expertise. Also commenting was Euan Baxter, investor at BGF, who said: “Optima Partners uses data and machine learning in a way that can revolutionise marketing and customer experience, and this investment from BGF is designed to help the business achieve further scale.

"Rooted in Edinburgh as a centre of data excellence, the company has built on strong academic foundations to prove its credentials through innovative work with some of the biggest names in financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals.”

Optima Partners adds that it has long-standing ties with academia with an office at the University of Edinburgh, and it leads a consortium including academic colleagues and a top pharmaceutical company driving innovation through advanced mathematics and software-development in early-phase drug discovery.

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BGF says its investment in Optima Partners follows it enjoying a record year in Scotland, having invested close to £60m in 2021, while it recently flagged strong deal flow north of the Border in the first half of 2022, with four successful exits.