Consultant wants to make millionaires


Technology consultancy Sentec in Hills Road is on the lookout for new funding and has flotation in its view-finder.

Sentec was formed in 1997 by Andrew Dames and Andrew Howe, engineers and inventors who used to work with Generics at Harston.

The business model is similar. Sentec has generated income through consultancy, using the funds to spin out new companies.

The balance so far has been more positive than negative, with fast-growing spin-outs including SmartBead Technology, Polatis, and Visual Protection. The one that fell over is Holotag.

Just 24 people work at Sentec and Andrew Howe, who is managing director, says he sees it as his job to make as many millionaires as possible this year.

Most hold shares, which they bought rather than had given to them, and Mr Howe keeps mentioning the figure of 125,000 invested by staff as the money that has been used to build the business, now turning over 2.4 million.

Last year Sentec was placed third in the Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 competition in the region.

One of Sentec's biggest clients is Invensys in the U.S.

Howe says Sentec targeted the corporation because it had every type of meter except one for electricity.

Sentec got a DTI Smart Award to develop the meter, which was invented by Andrew Dames.

'There are four million meters sold a year in the US, and although they are primarily for billing information, there is huge potential for 'add ons' to do with the intelligent home.'

Sentec's other inventions include SmartBeads' clever way of carrying out thousands of simultaneous tests on one sample, a boon to those in drug research and other areas of the life sciences.

The spin-out company had a funding boost of 1 million at the end of last year from a Scandinavian bank.

Polatis, where Andrew Dames spends his time these days, is concentrating on speeding up communications, or overcoming the 'bandwidth bottleneck'.

Sentec was able to sell 4.5 million of its holding a year ago, and new finance has come from 3i and Alta Berkeley.

Dames is said to be a brilliant technical innovator, and Howe appears to be in the same mould, although he plays his cards close to his chest and will only admit to an idea for a heated shaving mirror.

This idea, like a mountain of others, has been patented.

Visual Protection is going to be the next spin-off.

It involves intelligent cameras capable of recognising a fire and calling your mobile so you can decide whether or not to call the brigade.

New managing director for this company is Andrew Dickinson ('Yes, we're all called Andrew') who joined just before Christmas and is currently looking for funding.

Even so, people are keen to work at Sentec.

Mr Howe admits to going through 700 CVs, and that the company does not pay very well.

But if his plan holds good, the 24 who made it will be millionaires before the year is out.


Sentec Ltd a Xylem Brand

Sentec Ltd