Salford security firm sees £2m investment

eSafe specialises in monitoring online user behaviour within a school or college’s digital environment to protect against harassment
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Cyber bullying stalwart eSafe has received investment to the tune of £1.95 million from private equity house Maven Capital.

Mark Donkersley, eSafe CEO

Mark Donkersley, eSafe CEO

The funding will enable eSafe to take advantage of wider market opportunities which have arisen as a result of increased legislative, regulatory and political pressures to incorporate improved safeguarding monitoring systems within the education sector. The new investment will also support the expansion of eSafe’s sales, marketing and operational teams at its Salford headquarters, along with further development of its innovative service and technology platforms.

Maven has worked closely with eSafe’s management team over the past two years, following investment in the business in 2015 by the Greater Manchester Loan Fund (“GMLF”) which Maven manages on behalf of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities. The transaction is being jointly funded by Maven’s Venture Capital Trusts and the GMLF, which are investing £1.6 million and £350,000 respectively.

eSafe provides a service based solution to the primary, secondary and further education sectors using sophisticated detection technology to monitor online user behaviour within a school or college’s digital environment. The detection software identifies potentially harmful imagery including video, streaming, webcam and static files and also monitors multi-lingual keyboard entry and screen content from websites, documents and social media applications. Any potential incidents are then reviewed by a team of behaviour analysts and any incidents requiring intervention are escalated by real-time phone call or encrypted report, depending upon severity.

The firm's solution allows schools and colleges to effectively comply with their legal duty of care and safeguarding obligations, helping to identify a wide range of illicit activity including bullying, sexualisation, grooming, radicalisation as well as detecting mental health issues such as self-harm, anxiety and depression.

Craig Hopwood, investment director at Maven, said: “We’ve had the benefit of working with Mark and the wider eSafe management team for the past two years and have seen first-hand their ability to win new business and deliver these contracts to a very high standard. By leveraging its established reputation in the market, eSafe has been able to grow its client base and maintain impressive customer retention levels. 

"The knowledge and expertise of the eSafe behavioural analysts, coupled with sophisticated software and technology, is impressive. It is proven within the market, having already ensured the online safety and well-being of hundreds of thousands of pupils, students and staff across the UK. More than ever schools and colleges are being impacted by legislation and eSafe is benefitting from this increased regulation. We are looking forward to working with the team and helping eSafe develop further.”

Mark Donkersley, CEO at eSafe said: “The past two years have seen the education market embrace the specialist service approach to safeguarding pioneered by eSafe. Input from eSafe to parliamentary select committees in the last 18 months reflects its extensive knowledge and analytics of evidential social harms within UK education. This makes eSafe the go-to source for public policy makers requiring reliable statistical evidence in developing on-going legislative responses to child safeguarding risks. With the continued support from Maven, we aim to build upon the market’s acceptance and appreciation of eSafe’s unique approach to behaviour monitoring and to reinforce eSafe as the leading service provider in this field.”

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