TECHNOLOGY company Nomad Digital grew its turnover by 120% last year as the global rail industry continues to steam ahead.
The Newcastle-based firm, which is a global provider of wireless solutions to the transport sector including passenger WiFi on Eurostar and Virgin Trains, generated sales of £19m and expects to grow by a further 30% this year.
The company was named in this year’s Sunday Times’ Tech Track 100 as the seventh fastest-growing technology business in the UK.
This privately-owned firm is now the largest global provider of on-board internet connectivity to the rail industry, with its networks and solutions deployed in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia on more than 7,000 vehicles, serving over a billion passengers and covering 50,000 km of track.
Nomad, which has more than 60 staff in Newcastle, was the first company to provide continuous high speed internet connectivity in tunnels and the first to stream high-quality live video to and from moving trains.
The company’s former chief executive, Graeme Lowdon, was replaced by Alexander Eriksen in September 2011. Corbridge-born Lowdon has gone on to become chief executive of the Virgin Racing Formula 1 team.
Eriksen, who is Danish and lives in the UK, has knowledge and experience of the sector having founded both Pulz8 and Commute Media. Both companies are renowned as innovative solution providers for the rail industry with applications for passengers, train operators and train builders.
He said the future looked bright for Nomad and predicted that every rail line in the UK would be WiFi friendly in a few years’ time.
“We’ve consolidated our position in a new, but massively expanding niche and last year increased our market share to around two-thirds of the global market,” said Eriksen.
“We expect to see further growth through a range of connected applications such as CCTV and condition-based monitoring, not previously thought possible within prevailing communication networks constraints.
“We’re a global company with 200 employees, but our brains are in Newcastle where the technology is developed. There are great universities up here which produce the kind of home-grown talent we’re looking for.
“We’re continuing with our heavy growth plans and doubling in size every year. We’ve increased our headcount in Newcastle by about 40 and I very much doubt we’ll be stopping there.
“Public transport is big business around the world and we’re riding on the crest of that wave.
“A lot of what we’re bidding for is here in the UK, because we’re confident every rail line will be internet friendly in a few years.”
Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, took a 1.25% stake in Nomad, in July this year.
Investec had previously helped Nomad with project finance as part of its original development project for passenger Wi-Fi on Virgin West Coast trains.
Other significant stakeholders in the Nomad business already include Amadeus, SEB, and T-Mobile Ventures.
Ian McLaren, chief finance officer of Nomad, said: “With the increased backing of shareholders and more blue-chip finance, there’s a lot to look forward to as we continue to develop and implement new technologies across the globe.”