Science Warehouse – heritage, hospitals and smart eProcurement

On a recent trip “up north” – and I speak as a Wearsider - I took the opportunity to visit Science Warehouse in Leeds. They’ve got office space in the “Half Roundhouse”, a listed Victorian steam engine shed, nicely converted to offices with exposed brickwork and high ceilings. they've been there for two years now, and the look and feel is of a typical smart software firm, whether we’re talking Chicago or Cleckheaton.

The Half Roundhouse in Leeds - once a steam engine shed

Along with some other north-ish UK firms, (Wax Digital, Proactis, Due North, Software Europe), Science Warehouse fly the UK flag for eSourcing and eProcurement firms, up against the first wave ERP providers, the second wave specialists (Emptoris, Ariba) and the thrusting new boys (Coupa).  It’s interesting actually that we don’t have many (any?) home grown UK eProcurement firms who are London based. (Editor's late addition - sorry, we have Procserve of course in London, and thanks for the map to prove it Nigel)!   Seal – with their innovative contract discovery product are about the nearest I can think of, in Bracknell, but aren’t really core eProcurement.

Anyway, Science Warehouse have been successful with their Leeds base and have defined their niche rather cleverly. Somewhat like SciQuest in the US, they’ve focused on the technical challenges inherent in providing eProcurement (requisitioning, cataloguing and ordering) in very complex technical and scientific environments. They invest heavily in R & D, working for example on artificial intelligence and how that might help to automate spend mapping and cataloguing. There are now around 8 million products catalogued and available through their platform, with their heartland in Pharma and other science based firms, universities, and increasingly the Health Service.

Jonathan Betts, their Marketing head admitted that “we didn’t have health top of our target list for this year”. But they’ve become the partners for NEP, who provide outsourced back-office services to a bunch of hospitals and other Trusts mainly in the North-East of England, bringing Science Warehouse around 20 new customers for their P2P platform. As we've discussed before, the opportunity for consolidating NHS procurement and offering common platforms, pricing and catalogues is huge, and Science Warehouse are one of the firms looking to play a major role in those developments.

Whilst their growth has been self funded and perhaps even slightly cautious in approach, business is good. So this year they’re up to about 50 staff, with revenues (we’re estimating) of approaching £5 million and a growth rate of 25% plus year on year.

We’ve complimented Science Warehouse before about the general “content” they produce – their monthly newsletter for instance is actually interesting and worth reading. They recently ran a round table on the theme of a "procurement battle plan" which also provided some interesting comments - we'll come back to that in the New Year, when we also plan to feature their product suite in greater detail. In the meantime, if you want to read more, you can subscribe to their newsletter here.
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