Silicon Valley funding ‘shows North is strong’

connected: Furqan Alamgir, right, who founded Connexin in 2006, with business partner business partner Alex Yeung, left. The company plans to recruit an additional 100 staff following Silicon Valley investment
connected: Furqan Alamgir, right, who founded Connexin in 2006, with business partner business partner Alex Yeung, left. The company plans to recruit an additional 100 staff following Silicon Valley investment
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An internet connection provider has secured £10m from Silicon Valley, allowing the business to turn many areas of the UK into ‘smart cities’.

Hull-based Connexin will also be creating 100 jobs off the back of the investment from Digital Alpha, a Silicon Valley-based equity fund backed by tech giant Cisco Systems.

Connexin plans on building a new data centre over the next year and has already started recruiting for roles across the board.

The company was set up by a former medical student Furqan Alamgir in 2006.

Mr Alamgir told The Yorkshire Post that the investment from Alpha Digital is a “big statement that the North is competitive”.

He said: “There’s a lot of talent in the region. I think the opportunities haven’t presented themselves.

“If you speak to the guys down south doing all the technical work, they tend to live up in the north.

“It’s quite frustrating that there’s been a net migration of technical talent out from the region into the south.”

Connexin itself was under pressure from other potential funders to relocate to the South as they felt the talent was gathered there.

Mr Alamgir said: “It’s not easy building a technical business like this in the North of England.

“We had a massive push from potential funders, when we were first looking at raising money, to relocate to the South.

“But we got a lot of support from people within Hull, who brought our products and backed us in this, as well as the staff who worked for us from day one.

“From my side this is validating the fact that businesses anywhere in the UK, particularly in the North, can go out and raise seven figure rounds of money through venture backed funds from Silicon Valley.”

Connexin currently employs 30 staff in Hull. It will be adding 100 jobs at its HQ as well as 10 to 20 jobs outside the region.

“We’re expecting the data centre to be live in 12 months’ time,” Mr Alamgir said. “We expect there to be an initial ramp up of employment for the Connexin business and then another ramp up as the facility completes.”

Since Connexin won a key 10- year city centre Wifi contract with Hull City Council, the company has expanded its work with local authorities across the UK.

The business is scaling up its work with local authorities to provide wifi as a public service and for connected devices such as road sensors, energy and security systems.

Mr Alamgir said: “The way I describe it is imagine having a house with no Wifi. We enable cities
to have that wireless network. That appeals to cities across borders.”

As well as expanding across UK cities, Connexin also plans on doing more work in Europe.

The founder of Connexin said: “We’ve got very aggressive growth plans. We see ourselves going through further funding rounds expanding into more UK cities and Europe, then maybe further into America as well.”

Digital Alpha says it will underwrite up to £100m in smart city projects in co-ordination with its investment partners.

Data centre to nerve centre

Most of the new data centre’s capacity has already been acquired by business customers in the region, but more is being added and the facility is open for new business.

The data centre will be located on Connexin’s new technology campus, which will be the home for Connexin’s headquarters with additional space for other tech firms.

Furqan Alamgir said: “It will obviously bring a lot more connectivity to the region, also new technical abilities and resources for other business to benefit from.”

Mr Alamgir says that Hull has “a lot of talent” and that the people are also very entrepreneurial.