Oil giants line up to invest in technology firm Lux

TWO of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry have joined forces with a group of business angels to turn an embryonic technology firm into a full-blown energy services provider.

ConocoPhillips and Statoil have taken stakes in Lux Assure, alongside existing investors from Archangel Informal Investment and the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB). A total of £3.25 million has been pumped into the company.

Lux managing director Emma Perfect said staff numbers would double from six to 12 in the coming year as the company builds up sales and logistics teams to support its two main products, which monitor chemical levels in oil and water.

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A management team – including a chief executive – with experience in these areas will also be recruited.

A chief financial officer and business development manager will probably join the chief 
executive, who will take over from Perfect as she steps back full-time into her other role as chief technology officer.

“We have started the process of recruiting a chief executive, and we have a shortlist,” Perfect told The Scotsman.

“The aim is to appoint someone with a strong background in running a services company.”

Founded in Edinburgh in 2001 as Lux Biotechnology, the company has in the past adapted life sciences testing methods for use in a variety of fields.

Lux decided to focus solely on the oil and gas industry in 2009, and since then has received £800,000 in two rounds of backing from Archangels and SIB, which runs Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Venture Fund.

News of funding from Conoco-Phillips and Statoil will be particularly welcome among Scotland’s angel investors, who have been forced to support fledgling companies over longer periods since the onset of the financial crisis.

The downturn has choked off bank financing and led to the hoarding of cash by major corporations that invest in and buy smaller firms with promising technology.

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Andy Laing, an investment executive at Archangels, said the addition of shareholders from the oil industry would further enhance Lux’s prospects.

“This has been a welcome opportunity for Archangel to support Lux Assure’s continued growth and to demonstrate that business angel groups can successfully co-invest with venture capitalist firms,” he said.

“This level of investment, coupled with the skills and 
experience across the shareholder base, substantially increases the likelihood of commercial success for Lux and strong financial returns for investors.”

Aubin, a Scottish supplier of specialist chemicals to the 
energy industry, has also announced a successful fund-raising this week via a £2.25m investment from Business Growth Fund, the UK government-backed initiative to improve finance for smaller firms. The money will go towards overseas expansion.