Sheffield consultancy Ecus Ltd looks to national expansion after investment

Left to right: Paul Gower, Finance Yorkshire, Dr Peter Skipworth, ECUS Chairman, Erica Kemp, Commercial Director, Nick Birkinshaw, ECUS Managing Director, Paul Pattison, Financial Director.

A Sheffield-based environmental consultancy is looking to expand staff numbers and its national capabilities, following an investment from Finance Yorkshire.

After diversifying into different markets and following a board reshuffle, Ecus is looking to broaden its national capabilities with the backing of an Equity Linked investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Established in 1986, Ecus offers a range of services assisting clients through the planning process including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), ecology, landscape, geosciences and environmental management services. A spin-out company from the University of Sheffield, Ecus currently employs more than 20 staff and has a turnover of £1.5m.

Now the consultancy is looking to boost turnover and double staff numbers at its Sheffield base, thanks to the investment.

Following the appointment of local entrepreneur Dr Peter Skipworth as Chairman in 2010, the management team was revamped with new appointments to the Board including Erica Kemp as Business Development Director, Paul Pattison as Financial Director and Nick Birkinshaw promoted to Managing Director.

Dr Skipworth said: “Ecus responded to the downturn in construction through diversifying into growth markets such as wind energy, growing our business within the public sector and developing our Environmental Impact Assessment services.

“The Board believes that now is the time to look to the future and invest to significantly grow the business.”

Managing Director Nick Birkinshaw said: “The Finance Yorkshire investment will enable us to increase the numbers of our local workforce, we are aiming to double them. This in turn will ensure we can offer a high calibre and broad range of services across the country.

“In five years time, we have a projected turnover of £5m. Once we take on additional staff and open more offices, we can develop more disciplines, grow the margins – and therefore grow the business considerably.”

Paul Gower, Finance Yorkshire Investment Director, said: “I previously worked for Finance Yorkshire’s predecessor fund and considered funding Ecus back then.

“Having now re-engaged with the business, I was particularly impressed with the commerciality, ambition and commitment – all of the management team have invested in this funding round.

“They are looking to the future, not the immediate present, and investing so the company is better positioned to benefit from a return of growth.”

Paul added: “In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced a huge increase in the Annual Investment Allowance up from £25,000 to £¼ million - given this, I am hoping to see other companies looking to emulate Ecus’ decision to invest to grow.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from Yorkshire Forward’s Single Programme, and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Finance Yorkshire, please visit or ring 0845 649 0000.

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire