24 March 1998
Newbury-based Paragon Software, has been voted one of the UK's business stars of the future in the 3i/Sunday
Times "Business Catapult" competition.
Launched last year and open to start-up companies or those trading for less than three years, the competition
seeks to improve would-be entrepreneurs' access to suitable funding, so that those who have identified a new
product or service which is going to be in demand by the market have the financial means to see their ideas
through to successful commercialisation.
Under the rules of the competition, 3i agreed to put up £2 million for the winners, with a ceiling of £500,000
for each investment. Some 300 companies from across the country entered the competition, culminating in seven
entrants being put forward to the final.
So impressed were the judges, comprising James Dyson of Dyson Appliances; Sir Graham Kirkham of DFS Furniture;
David Crossland of Airtours; and John Jay, managing editor, Business News, Sunday Times, by the quality of all
seven finalists, that 3i agreed to increase the prize money to £3.5 million so that all seven won a share.
Paragon Software provides quality software packages for mobile phone users to improve the way home users and
business professionals communicate. Paragon caters to providers who want to offer fast, easy and convenient
contact management applications to their users. Utilising the latest mobile communications technologies and
integrating with Microsoft Office, Paragon offers a range of products that will revolutionise the way people
communicate and manage personal and professional relationships.
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FoneBook PLUS enables users to convert their phone into an electronic address book by downloading address book
entries from their computer to their mobile phone to further utilise the speed dial features of the book.
FoneBook PLUS shares contact details with Microsoft Office '95 and '97, Outlook and Exchange as well as
enabling caller ID and one-touch dialling. FoneNote enables PC users to send, receive and manage text
messages transmitted over a digital wireless network between PC and Mobile phone.
Commenting on the success of all seven finalists, David Crossland, chairman of the judging panel said: "They
were all of a very high quality and each one had a mix of enthusiasm and knowledge of the business that they
were proposing to run or were running. Interestingly, the finalists were at varying stages of development and
from different sectors, and we wanted to recognise all of them."
Steven Clarke of 3i's Thames Valley office, who completed the 3i investment in Paragon Software said: "3i is
delighted to be investing in Paragon, which looks set to become a leading force in the converging computing
and telecomms market, and develop into a truly global company. The competition makes clear our commitment to
investing in innovative young businesses which can demonstrate strong growth potential."
"Success in this competition is excellent news for Paragon" said Colin Calder, managing director. "Our
products have already evoked strong international interest, and we have established valuable contracts with
some of the industry's leading companies. 3i's backing will enable us to accelerate growth by taking existing
products to a wider marketplace and developing further applications in response to consumer demand."
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The other six finalists were:
The Crosland Company - the London-based specialist developer of mobile data communications and vehicle
Fresh Approach Foods - a Littlehampton-based company which has developed a means of extending the shelf life
of fresh foods by means of novel packaging technology.
Assured Information Systems - the Cambridgeshire-based developer of software aimed at tracking the side
effects of new drugs.
CreditCall Communications - the Gloucestershire-based company which has devised a simple-to-use system for
making credit-card phone calls.
Petcare Direct - a London-based mail-order/home shopping catalogue for pet owners.
PolyBioMed - the Sheffield-based company which is at an early stage of development but has filed patents that
could have significant medical impact on blood-flow management in major operations and on wound healing.
For further information please contact:
Paragon Software Tel: 01635 524 909
3i Thames Valley Tel: 0118 958 4344
Shandwick Tel : 0171 329 0096
24 March 1998