Frontier IP ups stake in RGU AI spinout Celerum

Robert Gordon University

Edinburgh-based Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising university intellectual property, said on Wednesday it raised its equity stake in portfolio company Celerum Limited from 10% to 33.8%.

“The increase is in return for an investment of £25,000, converting a previous loan of £21,818 into equity, and for providing £50,000 worth of additional strategic, business and hands-on software development services,” said Frontier IP. 

Celerum, a spinout from Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen, is developing novel artificial intelligence to help businesses improve the operational efficiency of logistics and supply chains.

It also has the potential to tackle a host of other complex scientific, engineering and industrial challenges.

Frontier IP said it is stepping up its support for the company “in response to increased industry interest.”

Frontier said: “As well as helping organisations improve their advanced planning and scheduling, the software works in real time, allowing them to respond immediately in the most effective way to unforeseen circumstances.

“For example, if an accident blocks a road, the software will immediately work out the most efficient alternative routes to redirect lorries, automatically accounting for the knock-on effects on the rest of a fleet, perhaps by rescheduling other deliveries. 

“The company’s approach has been proven in a number of projects undertaken by founder Professor John McCall, Head of the School of Computing, Science and Digital Media at RGU.

“They include a knowledge transfer partnership, backed by Innovate UK, with one of Scotland’s biggest privately-owned hauliers ARR Craib to maximise vehicle use and fleet effectiveness. 

“Professor McCall has more than 25 years research experience in nature-inspired computing (NIC).

“NIC looks to develop new software and AI algorithms based on natural processes and behaviours.

“Ant colonies, for example, are extremely effective at finding the most efficient routes to find food; NIC digitally mimics how they do so to solve human supply chain and logistical issues, for instance. 

“Other examples include particle swarm optimisation, based on how birds and fish behave in flocks and schools, and genetic algorithms, software techniques based on natural selection and evolutionary genetics.”

Celerum was incorporated in 2013 to develop and commercialise Professor McCall’s work.

Since then, grant funding to his research group at RGU has totalled £2,336,814 from 23 grants, including £964,649 from six Innovate UK grants.

ARR Craib Chief Operating Officer Mike Simpson said: “We’ve been working with Professor McCall and his research group at RGU for five years.

“We’re delighted with the significant benefits their work has delivered for us in improving visibility of the population of work to be covered. 

“This covers a number of different work streams in an extremely dynamic environment, and, most importantly, includes improved planning and fleet productivity. 

“We’re pleased to continue to work with Professor McCall as we seek to maximise the benefits of their work on optimisation technologies.”

McCall said: “This new investment and support  from Frontier will allow us to take advantage of the strong interest shown in our optimisation technologies across a range of industries, taking it beyond logistics and supply chains to help improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and streamline processes in a number of sectors.”

Frontier IP Chief Executive Officer Neil Crabb said: “We are delighted to increase our equity stake in Celerum.

“The company’s artificial intelligence has already proved its worth with industry, and clearly has enormous potential to improve efficiency within the transport services and logistics sector, and benefit many other industries.”