Sign Solutions, specialists in providing high quality communication support services for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the public and private sector, has secured significant investment from venture capital firm Midven, who were appointed to manage the £35m equity portion of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) in March 2018.
Historically focused on the provision of face-to-face interpreters, BSL translations and training Redditch-based Sign Solutions was founded in 1998 and provides all types of interpretation services, for Deaf people nationwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Since 2004, its innovative video interpreting service has improved the accessibility and financial viability of interpretation for Deaf people, by providing NRCPD qualified BSL Interpreters online for short and emergent interpretation requirements, enabling organisations to communicate in person or over the phone via an online BSL video Interpreter. Promoting equal access for all, all of the time.
Sign Solutions is aiming to leverage their current reputation as market leaders in this field and conquer the rapidly growing video interpreting market. With Midven’s investment, seven jobs will be created at Sign Solutions over the next two years, with further plans to invest in developing their service and make it available in new areas.
Clare Vale, Managing Director of Sign Solutions said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received the investment from Midven. The team members will help to grow our business and enhance services offered to new and existing clients. I want the roles we create to support our growing client base, and through greater promotion of our on-demand video interpreting service, we can help more public and private sector organisations to become aware of their responsibilities regarding equality and accessibility. Every organisation should be equally accessible to all their clients, customers, employees and patients.”
Sign Solutions has a number of new commercial opportunities available which will have both financially and socially positive rewards. One example being focused on making retail shopping and dining out more accessible for Deaf customers and meeting the on-demand communication requirements of Deaf employees. Also with health services required to make themselves accessible for Deaf people under the ‘Accessible Information Specification’, the real time video interpreting service allows instant access to a BSL interpreter for Deaf patients to call their GP or hospital from home, or receive medical help in an emergency.
Roger Wood, Director at Midven, said: “Sign Solutions has grown steadily in recent years and now has an opportunity to really broaden the accessibility of Sign Language through the advent of technology. It is a rare opportunity that combines compelling commercial imperatives with the chance to deliver valuable social outcomes, and we are delighted to be working with such an innovative company”.
Ken Cooper, MD at British Business Bank, said: “This investment into Sign Solutions is a great example of how the Midlands Engine Investment fund can help companies address new markets to grow their business. There is an additional social impact here but that isn’t always the case and the MEIF has the firepower to back many more growth stories from a wide range of business types across the Midlands.”
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is excellent news to have a growing Worcestershire firm such as Sign Solutions receive investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund; it is a fantastic example of the variety of businesses that can be supported from this regional initiative. The Worcestershire economy is set to benefit as a result of the funding as well, with new jobs being created locally.”
The MEIF 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.
Pictured (L to R): Ryan Cartwright – British Business Bank, Karen Nicholson – Sign Solutions, Roger Wood – Midven, Clare Vale and Sean Nicholson – Sign Solutions