Stockport-based Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS) is aiming for significant growth in 2021, after having secured a funding boost of £380k from NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, managed by Maven and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
Funding is set to deliver over 30 new, high-tech jobs to the region and forms part of NPIF’s ongoing investment in the North, that has recently exceeded £60m in Greater Manchester businesses.
ACCS tests that age-check systems work and that robust age-check procedures are followed by providers of age-restricted goods, content and services. The business currently operates UK-wide, with expansion plans across the G20 group of nations.
Investment will support the implementation of a growth plan which includes building a state-of-the-art in-house testing centre in Stockport. This will allow ACCS to implement assessments on age verification processes, artificial intelligence systems, biometrics and other age-check cutting edge and emerging technologies.
In addition, the company will look to further develop its digital platforms, including its website and proprietary app that is currently used by over 600 test purchasers to independently verify age check practices in retail, hospitality, gambling and entertainment premises across the UK.
James Darlington, senior investment manager at Maven, said: “We are delighted to see the growth ACCS has achieved on the back of our investment to date. ACCS is a fantastic northern technology business which has developed innovative technology and is truly driving positive change in its market. Recent major new client wins are a testament to the strength of the team who have managed the business diligently throughout this uncertain period. Today's investment represents an excellent opportunity to continue to back an innovative business with the opportunity to expand quickly in both the UK and internationally. We are proud to be a part of this journey and are excited to see what the future holds for Tony and the team.”
Tony Allen, founder and CEO of ACCS, commented: “Age checking is a vitally-important part of keeping young people safe in our increasingly digital-by-default society. However, given how quickly those digital platforms are changing, the process of verifying that age check systems work has never been more complex.”
This move has also resulted in the appointment of a new Non-Executive Chairman and experienced entrepreneur, Nick Bate. Nick holds this role across a portfolio of listed, private equity-backed and private organisations across a range of technology sectors, with a strong track record in helping to plan and deliver growth agendas.
The last 12 months has seen ACCS undertake certification of systems such as VeriMe, VerifyMyAge, Yoti and Facetec. This includes certification activity in the USA and European Union. ACCS also won the prestigious UK Open to Export finals, run by the Institute of Export and the Department for International Trade.
The business also has plans to launch an Age Appropriate Design Code certification in the coming months, to help tech companies become compliant with the code prior to the transition deadline on the 2nd September 2021. Age Appropriate Design Code is a new set of standards from the UK Government designed to explain how the General Data Protection Regulation applies in the context of children using digital services. The new code applies to all digital services used by children including websites, apps, online games and connected toys.
Sue Barnard, senior manager at the British Business Bank, said: “We are pleased that NPIF has continued to support high-growth businesses in the North, providing vital funding to enable job creation and expansion into new markets. This investment demonstrates how this funding can make a real and measurable difference to businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region, which helps create a more prosperous regional economy.”
Tony concluded: “This funding is set to take our business to the next level and ensure that we can continue to offer the very best service to our clients, both current and future. We’re really proud to receive funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, bringing high-tech jobs, enterprise, international trade and economic growth to the North of England.”
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.
For further information on ACCS, visit www.accscheme.com.