£400,000 funding package to put Glasgow film start-up on big screen

Michael Howell

A Glasgow-based technology company, aiming to become the world leader in the digitisation of film, is poised to open a major new studio in the city after securing £400,000 of new funding.

The deal will enable iMetaFilm, founded by husband-and-wife team Michael and Linda Howell, to take a major step forward in fulfilling its ambition to preserve cinematic history and in establishing a new global hub for film digitisation in the UK.

The company will also increase its headcount within a new custom-designed studio in Glasgow city centre, with state-of-the art technology; enabling simpler and less labour-intensive digitisation processes, with higher quality scanning.

Michael Howell, co-founder of iMetaFilm, said: “Every day we are losing film footage of enormous historical and cultural importance. This latest round of funding will enable us to use our technology to preserve this invaluable content so it can be used across a whole range of areas, whether that’s for social, educational or commercial purposes.”

With its proprietary technology, iMetaFilm has created a new film-archiving process involving a ‘MetaScanner’1and software that precisely assembles the moving image making it searchable, accessible and shareable online.

The company has already secured an impressive list of clients, including the University of Edinburgh – where it is working with the main library to digitise its archive – and the Library of Congress in the US, home of the largest film archive in the world.

The latest £400,000 injection is the second round of funding from existing investors Kelvin Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. In February last year, the two organisations provided an initial £217,000 of funding.

Angus Hay, Investment Director at Kelvin Capital, commented: “iMetaFilm has made technical advances never previously seen. Not only has it managed to digitise reels that were so fragile and precious, due to the passage of time, and bring previously forgotten footage back to life; but it has developed a process to recover the audio that would have been lost forever. Our investors were not only impressed with the iMetaFilm team, but are very excited about the possibilities for this technology and the applications worldwide. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting Scottish business.”

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank, added: “iMetaFilm is a great example of the growing, innovative companies that Scottish Enterprise is keen to support. We look forward to continuing to work with iMetaFilm as it develops its business and workforce, helping the company to achieve its ambition to be a global force in archive film digitisation.”

The growth of iMetaFilm comes at a pivotal time for the Scottish film industry. Earlier this year the Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, announced plans to develop a film studio based in Cumbernauld.

The company is now hoping to work with major organisations involved in film and broadcasting to realise the potential of digitising film archives for all to see.

Michael Howell explained: “If Scotland really wants to preserve its sense of self and identity through film, then we need the big players on board. We need to delve deeply into the archives at the National Library of Scotland, our universities, and the main broadcasters including the BBC. Only then can we fully appreciate, understand and showcase what it means to be Scottish to the wider world.

“But our ambitions go far beyond Scotland. With over 50 million film reels in existence globally, there are numerous possibilities for us to partner with organisations who have yet to tap into the potential of their own film archives.”