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BGF invests £2.3m in leading Edinburgh-based Optima Partners

BGF News 08.04.2022

BGF has invested £2.3m in business transformation and advanced data science consultancy Optima Partners. This investment will support the consultancy in scaling its industry-leading propositions by growing its skilled workforce and further developing its software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

Optima Partners is an Edinburgh-headquartered data science and transformation consultancy founded in 2013, with offices in London and Bristol.

It offers design-led customer and digital transformation services, using machine learning to identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer engagement, marketing and servicing to maximise client return on investment. Its advanced data science team provides solutions and services to clients across the customer, carbon and health sectors.

Following recent strong trading performance, Optima Partners achieved 55% year-on-year growth, delivering £5.75m in full year revenue at the end of June 2022, with a headcount of 44. BGF’s investment will now boost the company’s aim of scaling the business to 100 employees, investing in SaaS services and expanding into new markets and sectors.

Karen Thomas-Bland has also been appointed as a Non-Executive Chair at Optima Partners as the result of an introduction from BGF’s Talent Network, which is the UK’s largest pool of non-executive directors. Investing alongside BGF, Karen brings significant consulting and data science experience to Optima Partners with former roles including Partner of Strategy and Transformation at IBM Global, Executive Director of Strategy & Transformation at KPMG, and providing buyside investment assessment for Accenture and EY.

Alan Crawley, Chief Executive Officer at Optima Partners, said: “We pride ourselves on the calibre of our people, and Optima Partners’ ability to convert that into innovative customer-focussed marketing and servicing solutions for our clients. BGF’s investment will help us scale our business, allowing us to serve more customers. Enhancing the application of advanced data sciences, alongside focussing on practical application of AI and machine learning, are other key pillars in our growth and expansion plans.

“Karen’s appointment as our Non-Executive Chair will be of great value given her considerable consulting and data science expertise. We are grateful for BGF facilitating the appointment through its Talent Network.”

Euan Baxter, investor at BGF, 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’ 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.

Karen Thomas-Bland, Non-Executive Chair 

Optima Partners has long-standing ties with academia with an office at the University of Edinburgh and strong links in the business school and medical genetics. It leads a consortium including academic colleagues and a leading pharmaceutical business driving innovation through advanced mathematics and software development in early phase drug discovery. Its growing in-house data science team use a combination of sector expertise and research credentials in academia to exploit the latest innovations in AI and machine learning.

BGF is a long-term patient investor, making initial investments between £1 million to £15 million for a minority equity stake. The investment in Optima Partners follows a record year for BGF in Scotland, having invested close to £60 million in 2021 in a diverse range of sectors, from technology to healthcare to consumer goods.