Leeds spinout Slingshot Simulations secures £3 million Series A funding round

by | Jan 24, 2023

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Slingshot Simulations, a pioneering digital twin and decision intelligence company, has secured a £3 million Series A round of investment from Northern Gritstone, Mercia and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

A spinout from the University of Leeds, based in Nexus on the university’s campus, Slingshot Simulations was founded in 2019 by Dr David McKee. The company builds on his two decades of extensive experience in researching and developing large-scale modelling, simulation and data science for a number of major companies, including Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls Royce.

Slingshot Simulations will use the funding to accelerate development and expand the customer base of its Compass: Engine SaaS platform to the SME market, with a particular focus on supporting organisations driving the sustainability agenda. The company will also increase the scale of its application offerings in decarbonised future mobility and regional net zero strategic planning.

Compass: EngineTM provides a solution to three critical challenges: 

  • Unique IP overcomes the data deluge and breaks down siloed activity by quickly linking high volumes of complex, disconnected data and simulations. 
  • By delivering a low cost, no-code solution, new pathways are created into the rapidly growing digital economy for those who have traditionally struggled to participate, supporting efforts to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the high tech and data science sectors. 
  • Through compelling, metaverse like visualisations, storytelling through data engages a much broad base of stakeholders in the decision-making process.

The digital twin market is one of the fastest growing technology markets, with a CAGR of 58%, and is expected to reach over $50 billion in the next three years, according to McKinsey. Slingshot Simulations aims to contribute to the growth of the market through its mission to democratise the power of data by allowing anyone anywhere to make data-driven decisions in minutes. It is also looking to bring digital twin technology to adjacent markets such as location intelligence. 

Northern Gritstone was launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield to support the commercialisation of university spinouts in the north of England. Having announced its first close of £215 million in May 2022, it has begun to make its initial investments in some of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors, driven by its philosophy of ‘profit with purpose.’

Mercia has led two previous investment rounds in the company, using funds from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which it manages on behalf of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), and its EIS funds. 


The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Slingshot Simulations was advised on the fundraising by Squire Patton Biggs, with a team led by Corporate Partner Andrea Cropley, Associate Joshua Lodge and Intellectual Property and Technology Partner Emma Ball. Northern Gritstone and Mercia were advised by CMS (Partner Gareth Saynor and Senior Associate Caroline Walker).

Dr David McKee, Founder and CEO of Slingshot Simulations, said: “We’re really excited to be backed by the Northern Gritstone team and continue to have the support of Mercia and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. With this new funding we can realise our vision more quickly – enabling anyone, anywhere to access the power of digital twins and decision intelligence and make a quantifiable difference to some of the biggest challenges we face today. 2023 will be an exciting year as we accelerate the release of cutting-edge capabilities on this journey.”


Northern Gritstone Chief Executive, Duncan Johnson, said: “As the digital twin market continues to expand, Slingshot Simulations’ ambition to produce this technology for a wider range of businesses can accelerate the sector’s development. The company’s ground-breaking approach is representative of the thriving innovation in the north of England that Northern Gritstone was created to support. Slingshot Simulations, which marks our first Leeds-based investment, is an excellent example of Northern Gritstone’s investment approach and we look forward to supporting its continued growth journey.”

Will Clark, Managing Director of Mercia’s regional venture funds, said: “We have supported Slingshot Simulations since its inception in 2019 to help it develop and commercialise its technology and in recent months it has made real progress in winning clients and building traction. We are delighted to welcome Northern Gritstone as an investment partner in this round. We are confident Slingshot Simulations will play a central role in the emerging digital twin sector in the future.”

Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at British Business Bank, said: “With £500m of funding to back ambitious companies across the North, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is committed to supporting companies like Slingshot Simulations on their growth journey. It’s great to see investors like Northern Gritstone investing alongside NPIF and the investment into Slingshot is an excellent example of a business creating ground-breaking innovation and employment in the region. NPIF is pleased to have supported Slingshot Simulations since 2019 and this next round of funding will propel them even further. Over the last few years, it has become a leader in the digital twin sector and has placed Leeds and Yorkshire on the map as a hub of innovation.”


Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, University of Leeds, said: “Slingshot Simulations is a fantastic example of how a hugely talented and diverse team of experts can thrive in a supportive environment, delivering real insights from cutting-edge data science. It is this type of challenge-led research that will help us tackle the planet’s most pressing issues such as climate change, public health and food sustainability.”

Paul Scully, Digital Economy Minister, said: “Thanks to the resilience of innovative start-ups like Slingshot Simulations, the UK ended last year as one of the world’s leaders in tech. It’s great to see more investment flowing into a firm that can help cities cut air pollution and reduce congestion. We’re committed to making sure our tech sector continues to thrive and add jobs and growth to the economy.”

Dan Isaacs, Digital Twin Consortium General Manager and Chief Technology Officer, said: “Despite today’s difficult business climate, startup Slingshot Simulations has successfully completed series A funding. Their success is testament to the fast-growing digital twin market (analysts predict it will exceed $130B by 2030), with every industry adopting digital twins.” 


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