Why Synapse chose Innovation Birmingham Campus; the surprising benefits of Birmingham for start-ups

Innovation Birmingham Campus

After building and selling his first major business in Silicon Valley, Brian Donnelly came home from California and chose Birmingham as HQ for Synapse. “A significant driver for settling up here was finding the Innovation Birmingham Campus.” After seeing the set-up, Synapse moved in the following week. “It provided great office space and infrastructure, minimal commuting, based in a prime location – perfect for finding highly qualified staff and customers,” said Brian. All of this at a tenth of the cost of Silicon Valley.

To fuel growth, Synapse was successful in raising £500,000 R&D grant funding from the UK Government’s SMART scheme. “The grant and other funding opportunities in Birmingham have been fantastic; nothing like this exists in Silicon Valley.”

Beyond the SMART grants, funding from founders, Coventry University, Enterprise Catalyst, Bournville College and Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) has exceeded £600,000 to date.

“This funding meant we could help our second major customer – a leading Swedish Retailer –automate the production of real time project reporting; stopping them drowning in spreadsheets.”

The next step was to focus on hiring more great talent for the business, some 60,000 new graduates emerge from nearby Universities every year. “We have been able to find fantastic local people that are hugely talented and are happy to have a tiny commute to work in the Campus.”

With revenues approaching £2m and a growing team, Synapse needed to expand the management team. “We were very pleased to hire Tineke Booth ACA from KPMG to run Finance and Operations. Having a hugely experienced Chartered Accountant as our domain expert to help define and launch our new Cloud CFO product has been invaluable. Tineke’s 9 years of audit experience with Group Companies that carry out the sophisticated Financial Consolidations that Cloud CFO automates has been critical.”

The Synapse solution saves businesses considerable amounts of money from the moment it is switched on. Partly because the solution is so simple to understand but obviously so powerful: millions of companies use spreadsheets every day, automating processes where teams collaborate on the data. The spreadsheet gives the team great flexibility to do their own thing, but as the data gets out of date time has to be spent cutting and pasting it together again.

Synapse solves this problem – the team keep their spreadsheets on their desktop but are connected to the Synapse Cloud which keeps everything up to date. This allows transparent access and synchronisation from multiple users in real time, allowing all users to work from a ‘Single version of the truth’. Using Synapse results in a more efficient use of the traditional spreadsheet and the dramatic reduction of reporting costs.


For a Midlands-based Group Company, Synapse built a system that automates the consolidation of all subsidiary accounts to provide monthly management reports. The Group FD explains “Group companies around the world have been using spreadsheets to assemble the financial accounts for years. We waste several days a month doing this but spreadsheets give us the control we need so we persist. The Synapse Cloud CFO solution has streamlined the whole process; we get the final accounts almost immediately the month end is closed.”






Tineke Booth – Finance and Operations Manager


Businesses large and small use spreadsheets to automate their processes, because they are tired of coping with inflexible software and IT teams. There are huge problems with this approach, not least dirty data and the huge amounts of time wasted.

Synapse is the first company in the world to address this problem head on – the team of computer science experts built a system that connects customers’ spreadsheets to a black box in the cloud. The Synapse system is completely transparent to the customers, teams see a clean, up to date shared view of data, saving time and money.

As their first customer – a leading high street Bank (founded in Birmingham) said: “Synapse is on track to deliver benefits of £2 million.”

Tineke Booth, Finance and Operations Manager
T: (0)121 250 5675 E: info@synapseinformation.com


Published: Midlands Business Insider, 22nd September 2015