A specialist Wearside software developer is aiming to scale-up and more than double its client base after winning a six-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Mesma develops bespoke quality assurance and improvement software which enables clients in the technical and vocational education sectors to gain insight into the effectiveness of their different activities and target resources where they will have the greatest impact for both learners and employers.

Its insightQ application is already being used by around 400 colleges, apprenticeship training providers, universities, and governing agencies across the UK.

And having worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £100,000 investment, the Sunderland-based business is now looking to grow its client base to more than one thousand organisations within the next three years.

Two new jobs are set to be created before the end of the year, with the business specifically looking to provide career opportunities for young people as it grows.

And while the UK remains its primary focus for now, Mesma is already putting plans in place to target new home and overseas markets in the medium term.

Founded by Louise Doyle and Carole Loader in 2013, Mesma began life as a quality assurance consultancy, with the idea for insightQ growing from a recognition of the need to reduce inefficiencies within clients’ systems and provide them with greater insight into the effectiveness of their work.

The software has continued to evolve over time in response to clients’

needs, with the new investment supporting further strategic development work as well as increased marketing and business development activity.

The Mesma management team was introduced to NEL Fund Managers by non-executive director Neville Bearpark.

Louise Doyle says: “In normal times, we spend a lot of time travelling round the country to see clients, but when this no longer became possible due to the pandemic, we’ve had the time to review our strategic development needs and focus on where we want the business to go.

“We’re improving our product development cycle by investing in additional software architecture, data analytics and AI capabilities with a view to becoming a comprehensive one-stop shop for quality assurance and improvement needs in our chosen markets.

“We know that there are many more opportunities out there for the services we provide, and we’re confident that allying enhanced product, operational and business development resources will enable us to meet the challenging targets we’ve set ourselves.

“Scaling up is an essential part of providing the opportunities that we want to offer to young people within our own business, a process which has a great deal of synergy with the sectors within which we work.

“The NEL team asked the right question about our development plans and their support for our business plan has given us even greater belief that we’re on the right track.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Mesma has developed an impressive presence in a niche market and now has the resources to match its long-term commercial ambitions.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.