Dorset Community Foundation SWEF grant helps young flier’s drone business take off

Business left up in the air until grant paid for the right equipment

Dorset Community Foundation SWEF grant helps young flier’s drone business take off

A SWEF enterprise grant from Dorset Community Foundation has helped young businessman James Macpherson’s drone company to hit the heights.

The 24-year-old, from Bournemouth, applied for the grant, which can be up to £2,000 and helps young people aged 18 to 30 who are running or about to start their own business with costs such as tools, stock and rent, to buy a new drone after he spotted a gap in the market.

He founded JM Cinematics after discovering companies with large industrial units and premises are using drone operators to carry out roof inspections. “If you have a leaky roof after a heavy storm, you can go up you can fly a drone up there rather than having to hire scaffolding for someone to inspect it, which can be expensive,” he said.

“People who want solar panels on their roof can also use a drone to get a scan using photogrammetry to create a 3D model that can be overlaid onto Google Maps to see how your roof will look like with solar panels and how many you can install.”

James, who combines running his business with studying for a visual effects for film and television degree at Arts University Bournemouth, already owned a drone but it was too heavy for flying without incurring restrictive Civil Aviation Authority licence fees or having to seek permission from neighbours every time he was commissioned.

He couldn’t afford to buy a more lightweight drone that didn’t need CAA permission but was told about the SWEF grant by a business mentor at the Sammee Charity in Bournemouth. His application involved just one form detailing his business plan and attending a Zoom interview with SWEF grant panel members.

James said: “I was nervous at the interview but it was very easy and they were encouraging. I found if I imagined I was telling a friend about the business it gave me confidence.”

I was nervous at the interview but it was very easy and they were encouraging

He said he was delighted to discover he had been awarded £859 for a new drone. “I was ecstatic, it was incredible to get the grant,” he said. “It was a big hurdle because obviously when you’re a student you can’t really get a reliable job to make that much money very quickly.”

Since receiving the grant and buying a DJI Mini Pro drone, he has been contracted by a solar panel company in Wimborne to carry out all its roof inspections. “I do all their website and filming and drone work, as well as a lot of graphic design, videography and editing,” said James.

He has also branched out into drone filming and editing for other customers. “I am busy and I am really enjoying discovering more about how to get the best out of the drone,” he said. “I can offer my services to people interested in having a roof inspection done or producing videography from above that gives them a unique way of showcasing their business or events.

“I’m really pleased I applied for the grant, it was a big step forward for my business.”

Find out more about SWEF grants, eligibility and how to apply at here and learn more about James’ business, and see his aerial cinematography, at or search for JM Cinematics on Facebook and Instagram.


Pictured: James Macpherson with the drone he bought for his business JM Cinematics with a SWEF grant from Dorset Community Foundation

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