Tim Robinson, COO of Tech East, shares his bimonthly roundup of the biggest tech news stories from East Anglia.

The last two months have seen a surge in investment and collaboration across the East. This is borne out by the fantastic facts and figures coming out of the Tech Nation report. Our task is to keep our foot on the pedal, fostering collaboration and innovation to support this growth.

Tech Nation shows tech sector growth in East of England

Turnover in the region’s tech sector topped £8.3bn in the financial year of 2018/2019.

There are 89,000 people employed in the industry, producing around £101,000 per head worth of output in a year. Nevertheless, experts say that the region needs the funding and network to support it.

Neil Garner, founder and chief executive of Norwich’s Thyngs, which specialises in contactless payments using QR codes, told the Eastern Daily Press: “I think we need to improve network and infrastructure and work collaboratively if we’re going to keep improving tech businesses.

“These businesses are popping up but it’s happening slowly.

“There is such an opportunity in the UK to lead on FinTech. But I think specifically in Norfolk we can really ensure Insurtech (insurance tech), because we have the likes of Aviva and Marsh.

“But it’s on the big companies to start looking out and working with the smaller local firms to start developing this.”

Five key investments in the East

  1. Direct Line founder leads Pikl’s £2.5 million funding round

Norwich-based sharing economy insurtech Pikl (formerly Inlet), which was founded in 2016 by a small team of experienced insurance professionals, has gained the backing of Sir Peter Wood.

The esure and Direct Line founder led Pikl’s £2.5 million seed/pre-Series A funding round. Chief Executive Louise Birritteri said: “We are thrilled to have Sir Peter Wood and esure, backed by Bain Capital, together with an impressive group of angel investors backing us in this venture. Their support and experience will lend considerable strength to my team as we scale up.”

  1. Aqdot completes £6m Series B for multi-purpose technology push

Aqdot, the Cambridge-based supramolecular chemistry company has completed a Series B funding round of £6m supported by existing investors Parkwalk Advisors and IP Group.

  1. Gresham House Ventures invests in automated decision-making AI platform Rainbird

Gresham House Ventures announced an investment in Rainbird, an automation platform that uses AI to scale, augment, and enhance best practice decision-making for businesses.

  1. Cambridge genetics data platform start-up raises £500k seed funding

Cambridge startup Sano Genetics – formerly Heterogeneous – has raised £500k seed funding for an innovative research platform tipped to transform drug discovery and accelerate the growth of personalised medicine.

“Our platform allows scientists to do research into personalised medicine, and access dynamic health and genetic data sets, while still giving individuals transparency and control throughout the process,” said CEO Patrick Short.

  1. Cytora secures £25m for its AI-powered commercial insurance underwriting solution

Cytora, a UK start-up that developed an AI-powered solution for commercial insurance underwriting, has raised £25m in a Series B round.

“Our APIs are powered by a risk engine which learns the subtle patterns of good and bad risks over time,” explains Cytora co-founder and CEO Richard Hartley.

“This gives insurers a better understanding of the underlying risk of each business and helps them set a more accurate price. Both customers and insurers benefit.”

Spark EV Technology partners with University of Essex to advance electric vehicle adoption

Pioneering technology company, Spark EV Technology aims to tackle a major hurdle hindering the adoption of electric vehicles by partnering with the University of Essex on a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

Justin Ott, Chief Executive Officer at Spark EV, said: “The 18-month KTP project is a perfect opportunity for Spark to further develop its technology with University of Essex Academics working in the field of artificial intelligence.”

Inawisdom announces successful partnership with renewable powerhouse Drax Group

Ipswich-based Inawisdom announced its partnership with British electrical power generation company Drax Group.

Inawisdom’s focus is on differentiation through data exploitation, using the latest enterprise-ready techniques in predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence to exploit latent value in organisation’s data assets.

“Our relationship with Drax Group has been a success story from the start,” said Neil Miles, CEO and co-founder of Inawisdom.

“The utility sector is one of our core industries where AI and ML is proving a powerful instrument.

“Together with AWS, we were able to use our rapid deployment model to quickly find the real value in the data Drax held and help it to achieve goals effectively and efficiently.”

Creative Computing Club opens its new Suffolk Creative Computing Centre

The Creative Computing Club in Suffolk has opened a two-story centre dedicated to computing in all its forms.

The Creative Computing Club provide technology skill sessions for all age participants in Suffolk.

The Centre opened with a “Mega Retro Game Easter Week” featuring over 30 retro consoles and 300 games.

The club’s members are excited about the next course: “History, Design & Development of Video Games.”