15 exciting start-ups from Edinburgh to watch

22 Mar 2018

Edinburgh skyline. Image: Evenfh/Shutterstock

When it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, Scotland’s capital city is a veritable goldmine.

Bolstered by a longstanding intellectual and university culture, the Scottish city of Edinburgh is quintessentially an innovation powerhouse.

As well as boasting a considerable business and financial ecosystem, its legacy of innovation includes native inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.

And, thanks to the success of Europe’s best-known unicorn, Skyscanner – bought by Chinese travel firm Ctrip in 2016 for $1.75bn – and players such as FanDuel, the city ought to be on any worthy investor’s radar.

As well as the globally renowned School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, it is also home to Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University.

According to Tech Nation UK 2017, Edinburgh has 17pc of the UK’s high-growth firms, 25,109 digital workers and is the birthplace of 363 start-ups and counting.

CodeBase, the UK’s largest technology incubator, is based in the city and prominent investors include Scottish Equity Partners, Pentech Ventures, Par Equity and Archangels. Other workplaces worth noting are Techcube, The Melting Pot and Creative Exchange.

Regular meet-ups and events include Heroic Entrepreneurs, Lean Agile Edinburgh, Startup Grind, Investing Women and A Day with The Angels.

And so, here are the start-ups from Edinburgh to watch in 2018.


E-learning and training management player Administrate has developed award-winning cloud software that enables businesses to define, track and deliver training to their workforces and partners. The start-up has raised $7m in funding so far, including a $3m angel round led by Archangels in 2016.


Appointedd is an online booking and management platform for small businesses. It acts as a virtual personal assistant, handling diary management and meeting bookings online or via social media. Founded by Leah Hutcheon, Appointedd has raised £1.4m to date from Equity Gap, Scottish Investment Bank and Apollo Informal Investment.


Edinburgh-founded FanDuel offers fantasy sports with daily games for real money for NFL, MLB, NBA and NHA in the US. The company, which trades under Hubdub Ltd, was founded by Nigel and Lesley Eccles, Rob Jones, Tom Griffiths and Chris Stafford. It has raised $416.2m to date, including $275m in a Series E round in 2015 and a $44m convertible note in 2016.


FreeAgent offers web-based accounting and money management software for small businesses and freelancers. The company, which was founded by Alexander Bruehl, Ed Molyneux, Grant Halsey, Olly Headey and Roan Lavery, has raised $10.7m to date, chiefly from an IPO on the London AIM market in 2016.

The ID Co

The ID Co has a mission to create a layer of trust in the internet, beginning with its business and consumer products, MiiCard and DirectID. The aim is to give people complete control of their personal data and identity. The ID Co has raised $9.1m in total funding to date from investors that include SixThirty, New Wave Ventures, Par Equity, GEIF Ventures and IQ Capital Partners.

Machines With Vision

Machines With Vision develops sensors and mapping technology for autonomous vehicle systems. Founded by Anthony Ashbrook, Jan Wessnitzer and Tim Lukins, Machines With Vision has raised $203,200 in seed funding so far.


Mallzee is a B2C and B2B retail tech player that has developed the Product Future service, which helps retailers to leverage and make sense of consumer preference data. It allows companies to test and analyse product sales potential before orders are made. Founded by Cally Russell, the company recently raised £1.9m in funding from SIB, Par Equity, Equity Gap and London Scottish Investment Group, bringing total funding to £5m.


PureLiFi is a spin-out from the University of Edinburgh and has created an alternative to Wi-Fi or 4G wireless networks, called Li-Fi (light fidelity), which is based on visible light communication. Founded by Harald Haas and Mostafa Afgani, the company has raised $25.8m to date from investors that include Temasek Holdings, Scottish Investment Bank, Old College Capital, and London and Scottish Investment Partners.


Sensewhere develops indoor location technology for busy indoor areas such as airports and shopping centres using a combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sensors. Founded by Rob Palfreyman, Tughrul Arslan and Zankar Sevak, the company received a £1.4m grant from Scottish Enterprise in 2016 to enhance R&D and improve the functionality and accuracy of its technology.


Sharein has created customisable investment platforms that enable businesses to raise funds directly from their networks of investors. It is a software and compliance firm specialising in crowdfunding solutions and comprises finance professionals, software engineers, project managers and compliance experts. Founded by Jude Cook and Andrew Pickett, it has raised £670,000 to date in seed funding.


Snap40 has created a wireless wearable device that provides ICU-like information, monitoring vital signs such as oxygen saturation, movement and change in blood pressure. This acts as a kind of doctor by the patient’s side, gathering data to identify when patients need intervention using early warning alerts. Founded by Christopher McCann, Snap40 has raised £3m in funding from Innovate UK and Par Equity.


TravelNest has created a central platform for holiday rental hosts to manage all of their advertising in a single place using a data and property performance dashboard. Founded by Doug Stephenson in 2015, TravelNest last year raised £3m in seed funding from Pentech Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners, Frontline Ventures and former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan.


TVSquared uses algorithms to provide measurement and optimisation opportunities for TV advertisers. On average, clients optimise campaigns by 25pc. Founded by Calum Smeaton and Hew Bruce-Gardyne, TVSquared has raised $9.5m in funding, including a $6.5m funding round last year led by West Coast Capital.


Topolytics is turning commercial waste management into a data-driven industry. Its software uses mapping and geospatial analytics to expose waste data and the waste value chain – a £2bn market. It also identifies gas leaks and hazardous material. In 2017, Topolytics was selected for Clean & Cool Mission San Francisco, as one of the UK’s top 20 cleantech start-ups. The company was founded by Gordon Cowtan and Michael Groves.


ZoneFox builds security software to help businesses in sectors such as finance, health and gaming to detect insider threats. Its main product is Augmented Intelligence, which helps organisations match the sophistication of cybersecurity attacks. ZoneFox last year raised £3.6m in a Series A round led by Archangels with participation from Scottish Investment Bank and Tricap.

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Updated, 1.01pm, 23 March 2018: This article was updated to correct information on Sharein’s founders and the amount of funding raised.

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