MIDAS SHARE TIPS: 1Spatial is the digital maps expert

MIDAS SHARE TIPS: Here’s a truly hot tip for your portfolio – 1Spatial is the fast-growing digital maps expert that helps find a way to fires

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget was clear – when it comes to business, the Government wants to support enterprising, innovative companies that can help make the UK a force to be reckoned with in the 2020s and beyond. 

1Spatial is just such a business. Spun out of Cambridge University more than 40 years ago, 1Spatial has pioneered sophisticated software that allows public and private sector customers to create detailed digital maps at local, regional and national level. 

The shares are 35p and should increase materially as chief executive Claire Milverton rolls out her strategy for growth. The business already has a number of blue-chip customers, such as Ordnance Survey, Northumbrian Water, Network Rail and the Energy Networks Association, which comprises all Britain’s electricity and gas firms. 

On target: 1Spatial’s mapping software helps California firefighters, who last year faced record-breaking blazes

1Spatial has a fast-growing business in America too. Five years ago, there was one client, the US Census. Today. there are 30, including California’s Office of Emergency Services and the state of Michigan. 

Most people associate Ordnance Survey maps with geography lessons or hikers. But the organisation also provides government bodies and companies with essential geographic data, independently valued at more than £100billion. 

That data needs to be accurate, easy to understand and comprehensive. 1Spatial’s software makes sure that everything from barn extensions to ancient woodlands can be easily visualised on one gigantic digital map. 

The group’s software has many other uses too. Using 1Spatial’s kit, the Energy Networks Assocation is beginning to map all its assets above and below ground, a move that should help firms to plan much more effectively for the future. The Government is also using 1Spatial to help create a National Underground Asset Register, a digital map of belowground pipes, cables and tunnels. 

Every year £1.2billion is wasted – and countless people’s lives are turned upside-down – when workmen accidentally drill through pipes or damage cables. This Register is designed to stop these accidents from happening and 1Spatial is a key contributor to the project. 

Milverton is hugely excited about 1Spatial’s opportunities in America too. In California, 1Spatial is helping the Office of Emergency Services to develop a clear and up-to-date picture of what lies where, from homes in the wilds to areas at risk of fires and flooding. The information should mean that firefighters can tackle emergencies faster, saving lives and properties. 

In Michigan, 1Spatial is providing a similar service – this time for the state authorities as they work out where and what to build over the coming years.

1Spatial even counts Google as a customer, helping the technology giant to create a simple way of viewing its offices and assessing how best to manage them, from where to put new desks to how much electricity each site might need. 

Casual observers might think that governments, states and large businesses would already know where buildings, cables and country paths are. 

In reality, much of this information has been built up over decades, with paper maps, aeronautical photos and digital bits and pieces from multiple sources. 

Milverton and her team help customers to collate all this information, make sure it is correct and put it in a usable format that can be upgraded when necessary. 

The cost and time savings are substantial and the software has all kinds of possible uses, including traffic management during roadworks and water pipe maintenance to reduce leakage. 

Milverton joined 1Spatial as finance director in 2010 and was promoted to chief executive four years ago. Since taking the helm, she has streamlined the business and developed an ambitious expansion plan for the future. 

Last week, she said the business performed better than expected in 2020 and the order book for forthcoming projects is strong. Analysts believe the share price does not reflect these prospects, with brokers at Liberum suggesting a target price of 60p. 

Midas verdict: 1Spatial is a clever business, providing a much-needed service that can save lives and money. At 35p, the stock is a buy. 

Traded on: AIM Ticker: SPA Contact: 1spatial.com or 01223 420414 

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