10 brilliant start-ups from Birmingham to watch

16 Aug 20183.04k Views

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The Birmingham canals. Image: Kris Kuzniar/Shutterstock

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Birmingham is a powerhouse of innovation and when it comes to tech start-ups, it is experiencing a boom.

Birmingham has for the last five years topped the list for the highest number of new UK start-ups outside of London. According to the Centre for Entrepreneurs, 12,108 businesses were started up in 2017, adding to the 17,473 founded in 2016.

This ranks Birmingham as the UK’s most entrepreneurial city outside of London and ahead of Manchester, Glasgow, Leicester, Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool, respectively.

Tech Nation estimated that Birmingham digital tech businesses recorded a turnover of £2.2bn in 2017.

Birmingham’s start-up scene draws on a rich heritage in science, technology and industry stemming back to the industrial revolution.

Its prowess at entrepreneurship has been given wings thanks to plans from the UK government to mark the city out as an Enterprise Zone with super-fast broadband and £150m in tax breaks. A planned high-speed train will cut the journey time to London to less than 50 minutes.

Key incubators include Innovation Birmingham Campus, Boxxed, the BizzInn, Spark and Entrepreneurs for the Future. Active accelerators include Oxygen Accelerator, Climate-KIC and Entrepreneurial Spark.

Silicon Canal aims to foster the local start-up ecosystem, and regular events include Fusion, Tech Wednesday and Birmingham Entrepreneurs Meetup as well as various meet-ups for female entrepreneurs.

And so, here are some of Birmingham’s start-ups making a name for themselves.

Buckt

Buckt is a tickets and activities subscription service that sends subscribers five tickets to mystery things to do in their region every month. The activities are brought to their door in Buckt Boxes and subscribers save money on the cost of activities that on their own would cost a lot more. The company was founded last year by Daniel Bridgewater and started trading this year.

Eyoto

A commercialisation spin-out from Aston University, Eyoto, formerly known as Aston EyeTech, is developing a range of proprietary hardware and software products for ocular care. Its cloud-connected, AI-driven systems take advantage of step changes in optical lens, camera and processing technologies to improve patient outcomes. Last year, the company raised £5m in a Series A round led by Mercia Technologies.

Geospatial Insight

Geospatial Insight provides independent research derived from analysis of satellite, aerial and drone imagery. Clients include the Williams Martini Formula One racing team. The company was founded in 2012 by Dave Fox and Dan Schnurr and has raised £3.8m in funding from investors that include VenturesOne, Foresight Williams and Midven.

EVezy

EVezy has devised a new model for electric vehicle (EV) usage, providing users with all the benefits of driving an electric car without the long-term commitment of owning one. Users pay a subscription and can pick up a car at an EVezy depot. The company was founded this year and is led by CEO Rob Jolly. It has raised £250,000 in seed funding so far.

Link Big

Link Big represents the next generation of smart links, converting general mobile web links into personalised, actionable and more optimised links around language, commerce, location and more. This includes social media and shoppable Instagram links. Link Big was founded in 2014 and is headed by CEO Nadav Raviv. It has raised $379,700 in funding from investors that include Ignite Accelerator, John Lewis and JFE Accelerator.

Magic Candy Factory

Magic Candy Factory has created a 3D candy printer to allow people to design and print customised sweets. The award-winning start-up was founded by Melissa Snover in 2015 after she sold her first company, Goody Good Stuff, to Cloetta. Snover formed Magic Candy Factory in partnership with Bastian Fassin, a scion of the global Katjes confectionary business. The company was named Best UK Tech Start-up 2017 by Disruptive Tech TV.

Smart Antenna Technologies

A spin-out from the University of Birmingham (UB), Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) has developed, pioneered and patented wireless systems for the global cellular market, including devices for smartphones, notebooks, internet of things (IoT) devices, connected cars and small cells. Founded by CTO Dr Sampson Hu in 2013, SAT’s technology is based on conceptual antenna technology research, developed by Hu during his PhD at UB. The company has filed more than 60 patents to date and last year raised £1m in a Series A round. Investors include Senetas, Mercia Technologies, the EU Executive Agency for SMEs and UB.

Voxpopme

Voxpopme is a video insights and analytics platform with a global client list that includes Accenture, Microsoft, Verizon, Twitch, Tesco, Visa and Cisco, to name a few. The company’s platform delivers end-to-end video research that captures and analyses content to make working with video fast and easy. Founded in 2013 by Dave Carruthers, Andrew Barraclough and Tom Williams, Voxpopme has raised $5.6m in funding to date. Investors include Mercia Fund Management and Angels Den.

Wambiz

Wambiz is a customer experience specialist firm that creates private social networks and smart apps for the educational and corporate markets. Wambiz is best known for specialising in apps for schools, colleges and universities to allow students to connect and communicate with their teachers and each other in an engaging yet controlled way, without blurring the line between school and social life. Founded in 2013 by Harry Jawanda and Andrew West, Wambiz has raised $2.6m in seed and angel funding rounds so far.

Whisk

Whisk’s technology enables businesses to build integrated, smarter and more meaningful digital food experiences powered by data points and artificial intelligence. Whisk powers more than 100m monthly user experiences and 500,000 shopping interactions. Clients include Samsung, Tesco, Asda, Walmart and NHS diabetes prevention services. Whisk.com’s founder and CEO, Nick Holzherr, first pitched the business idea to Alan Sugar on BBC One’s The Apprentice.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com