Heritage strikes £3M deal for art, science and photography archive

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The Independent Online

An online picture library providing access to a range of Britain's historical art hopes to expand into continental Europe after receiving £3.25m in venture capital funding.

An online picture library providing access to a range of Britain's historical art hopes to expand into continental Europe after receiving £3.25m in venture capital funding.

Heritage Image Partnership has already signed deals with a number of well-known British heritage institutions ­ including the British Library, the Science Museum and the Royal Photographic Society ­ to put a range of their images on the web.

The dedicated online service ­ www.heritage-images.com ­ which was launched two weeks ago aims to provide access to 200,000 images within the next year. The company said it was in talks with a further 10 institutions about expanding the range of images available. Others already signed up include the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, the Guildhall Art Gallery and English Heritage's National Monuments Record.

The company hopes to move into continental Europe later this year, starting with France, Italy, Germany and Spain. It is also considering Scandinavia because of that country's high level of internet use.

The money raised will be used for working capital, including marketing costs. The funding, which closed in March, was arranged by the hi-tech venture capital firm MTI, and led by VCF Partners. Other investors included e-Technology VCT, Enterprise VCT, and Gartmore Fund Managers.

The service is aimed at newspaper, book and magazine publishers, TV film-makers and advertising and graphic design agencies. It is expected to compete with the likes of Corbis and Getty Images. "The unique side to our service is content ­ we have a huge image collection that had been very hard to access commercially," said John Spring, HIP's marketing director.

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