10 cool start-ups from Cambridge to watch

25 Oct 2018

Image: © IRstone/Stock.adobe.com

The university city of Cambridge is home to compelling start-ups at the bleeding edge in areas such as big data, life sciences and AI.

Known as Silicon Fen, Cambridge is a veritable powerhouse when it comes to creating a cluster of tech and life sciences start-ups with the power to change the world.

According to the Tech Nation 2018 report, Cambridge has a higher than average digital density compared to most UK cities. It is home to some of the UK’s fastest-growing tech companies and has more than 15,000 digital tech jobs and companies with a turnover of about £2.4bn.

In terms of start-up infrastructure, the Bradfield Centre, which opened in 2017, is home to more than 200 entrepreneurs. The Maxwell Centre is another space for industry liaison with Cambridge University, building on the success of the Hauser Forum and three IdeaSpace locations.

The city is definitely on the up. The UK’s first underground railway to be built in decades will run trains into the heart of Cambridge. The Isaac Newton Line is expected to start operations by 2025.

And so, here are the start-ups from Cambridge to watch.

Artios Pharma

Artios Pharma was formed with assets out of Cancer Research Technology and is focused on DNA damage response. Led by an experienced scientific team, the company has raised £90m, including £65m in funding in August from iBank, Andera Partners and Life Sciences Partners.


Darktrace uses AI techniques and machine-learning algorithms to spot patterns and catch cybercriminals before they can attack. Based on advanced machine learning and mathematics developed at the University of Cambridge, and with customers including BT, Virgin Trains and Drax, Darktrace says it is changing the way cybersecurity is approached. The company has raised a total of $229.5m, with the latest investment of $50m arriving in September from Vitruvian Partners, TenEleven Ventures and KKR & Co.


FiveAI provides software for safe and cost-effective urban mobility in public transport, providing a solution for complex urban environments. Founded in 2015, FiveAI is led by CEO Stan Boland. It has raised $37.7m in funding, including a $35m Series A round led by Lakestar with participation from Notion, Kindred Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners.


GeoSpock provides intelligent software solutions that address essential data challenges related to space, time, scale and speed. The big-data engineering start-up helps organisations to unlock the hidden value of data in their data silos. Founded by Dr Darrin Disley and Steve Marsh in 2013, GeoSpock has raised $17.5m so far, including $6.6m in February in a round led by Cambridge Innovation Capital and involving Parkwalk Advisors, Global Brain Corporation, 31Ventures and Michael Marshall.


Healthera connects patients to a network of pharmacies and GPs, allowing them to order and track their prescriptions, and monitor their medication intake. Founded by computer scientists and medical researchers from the University of Cambridge, the company has raised a total of £3.3m, including a £3m Series A round in August from University of Cambridge Enterprise, Future Care Capital and ADV.


Healx uses AI to discover and develop treatments for rare diseases by combining AI with pharmacological expertise and patient engagement. Founded in 2014 by Dr Andreas Bender, Dr David Brown and Dr Tim Guilliams, Healx has raised $11.9m, including a $10m Series A round led by Balderton Capital.


KisanHub is an agritech player that provides a data-driven analytical tool for producers and suppliers to protect farming operations, including crop intelligence. Founded in 2012 by Giles Barker and Dr Sachin Shende, the company has raised $3.4m in funding, with investors including Calibrate Management, IQ Capital and Notion.


Metail is a virtual fitting-room service for fashion retailers that allows customers to create a 3D model of themselves and try on clothes. Founded by Tom Adeyoola and Duncan Robertson, Metail has raised $32.4m in funding, with investors including Tal Apparel and New World Private Equity.

Origami Energy

Origami Energy is creating a real-time marketplace for a distributed energy world, working with different energy assets that are plugged into the electricity grid. The company has raised £35.8m so far, including £18.6m earlier this year from investors including Aggreko and Cambridge Innovation Capital.


Prowler.io’s principled decision-making platform makes it possible to perceive and affect the ways agents – such as vehicles, drones, robots, characters in games and even people – interact in complex environments. The research-led start-up was founded in 2016 by Aleksi Tukiainen, Dr Dongho Kim and Vishal Chatrath. It has raised a total of $14.9m in funding, including a $13m Series A round last year led by Cambridge Innovation Capital with participation from SGInnovate, Passion Capital, Atlantic Bridge and Amadeus Capital Partners.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years