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Technology / AI and automation

REVITALISED WITH NEW MANAGEMENT, SCIENTIFIC COMPUTERS RAISES UKP1m IN VENTURE FUNDS

The long-established Scientific Computers Group, headquartered in Burgess Hill, Sussex has received UKP1m in investment funds from Vista Ventures II. The company has been promised another UKP500,000 over the next two years, and Vista is planning a future investment programme. Scientific Computers was established in 1959 as the UK arm of Electronic Associates Inc, selling and supporting analogue computers. It became independent in 1977, headed by Derek Cartwright, who has now sold his shareholding to Vista, and no longer sits on the board, but he will continue to act as a consultant. Scientific Computers GmbH and Scientific Computers SA were the German and French subsidiaries of Electronic Associates, and they were also purchased in the late 1970s. The fourth company in the Group is Scientific Computers Research, which was formed by a team of engineers working together since 1983. According to Adrian Lincoln of Cygnus Venture Partners II, UK advisors to Vista Venture Funds, Scientific Computers has suffered in recent years from a lack of vision and not being up-to-date with new technology. He says that there was general agreement at board level on the need for a new management team, and an overall group executive officer to examine growth options and possible mergers or acquisitions. Consequently, once the new team is established, Lincoln foresees a different company strategy and a number of new product announcements. He claims that the company will develop its interests in three main areas – assimilation multiplexers, knowledge engineering, and parallel processing – and he promises announcements in all three. Apart from its inherited analogue and hybrid computation business, current activities include distributing array co-processors from Billerica, Massachusetts-based Computer Signalling Processing Inc, CSPI, and expert systems development tools for Framantec SA, a subsidiary of the French company Framatome, which builds nuclear reactors. However, Lincoln is uncertain if Scientific Computers will maintain its interest in other fields, including the European distribution of air traffic control systems, manufactured in the US by ATC Inc. It is a niche market, and investment in it has fallen over the past few years. Also under threat is the continued manufacture of the Roba oscilliscope, a large screen data display used mainly for simulated radar, which Scientific Computers acquired in 1983 when it bought the original manufacturer, Robel Electronics. Lincoln believes that the oscilliscope technology could perhaps be licensed off or eventually sold. As regards mergers and acquisitions, Scientific Computers says that it will be examining any opportunities that arise to buy complementary companies, or form synergistic relationships, especially in continental Europe.

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CBR Staff Writer

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