Startup Weekly

Here’s your weekly roundup of news about startup competitions, awards, accelerators, and any other exciting developments in the UK tech sector.

IKEA Bootcamp

IKEA and Rainmaking have partnered to launch IKEA Bootcamp, a program open to a maximum of 10 startups solving challenges in peoples’ daily lives.

The furniture designer and online retailer is looking to collaborate with startups solving the following challenges it has identified:

  1. Being truly affordable
  2. Being accessible
  3. Enabling a positive impact on the planet and society

IKEA Bootcamp will start on 18th September and will finish on 8th December.

Alex Farcet, partner at Rainmaking, said: “We believe that the IKEA scale and impact merged with our network and experience from building startups and innovation programs will provide a great environment for the startups.

“The program will help them speed up their development and create innovative products and services that truly have a positive effect on people’s lives.”

Nesta’s ShareLab Fund

Training refugees as language tutors and a community car scheme to tackle rural isolation are among the eight projects to be funded by the ShareLab Fund, it was announced today.

Through the programme, innovation foundation Nesta will support and develop collaborative economy platforms that can support public services and create social impact.

Each ShareLab Fund project will receive up to £40,000 and additional non-financial business support from Nesta over eight months. The eight projects are:

  • The Milk Bank App (£40,000) – the Hearts Milk Bank will develop a peer-to-peer platform to facilitate the donation of safe, screened breastmilk to premature and sick babies in UK hospitals.
  • TrustonTap (£40,000) will expand its platform that connects self-employed care workers with older people in Oxfordshire who want to stay at home independently, enabling them and their family to directly choose their carer and care timings – and lowering the cost of provision.
  • HappyCT (£25,000), a pilot by Liftshare, will explore how a variety of Community Transport services in the Norwich area can better collaborate; working together to fill empty car seats, serve more routes and, in doing so, help make more journeys available; reducing social isolation felt by vulnerable people in rural areas.
  • Chatterbox (£40,000) will grow its online language learning service which employs refugees to teach their native languages, highlighting the untapped potential within the refugee community.
  • Beam (£40,000) will develop its data and technology driven pilot initiative that aims to tackle the growing crisis of UK homelessness by connecting people with skills and training. After the successful completion of their pilot and with the support of leading charities like The House of St Barnabas, Beam hopes to officially launch at the end of the year.
  • ShareSomewhere (£14,000) will develop its model that makes it easy for voluntary and community groups to rent low cost and under-used spaces on a one-off basis. Pilots will be run in Manchester and Cheshire.
  • Social Value Exchange (£40,000) is a platform to match local community groups with commercial resources as part of the procurement process – like expertise, office space or IT equipment – for free. Pilots will be launched in councils and housing associations in the South-East to test it.
  • Driver Co-op (£25,000) – The New Economics Foundation will conduct research to support the development of an alternative online co-operative platform app owned by private hire drivers in Bradford and Leeds – helping to identify and overcome barriers to success, and drawing lessons for similar worker-owned models in other industries.

Helen Goulden, executive director, Innovation Lab at Nesta, comments: “The ideas funded through ShareLab show that the collaborative economy has many practical applications beyond just finding a place to stay or getting a cab ride. We see great potential in these innovations to help alleviate some of the pressure on local governments, addressing the real needs of people, families and communities. ”

Crowdcube and WeWork

Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube will expand its operation across Europe through a partnership with coworking firm WeWork.

Crowdcube, which is already active in Spain, is set to use WeWork’s existing footprint in Europe to open offices in Paris and Amsterdam.

Matt Cooper, chief commercial officer at Crowdcube, said: “Following a record breaking start to the year with £23m raised for companies in the first quarter, we are unrivalled across Europe.

“We already have tens of thousands of investors from outside the UK who have invested close to £25m on our platform. By partnering with WeWork we can fast track our growth plans via their coworking hubs which are based in prime locations and attract business that want to engage with us  understand how crowdfunding can support their ambitions,” he said.

Benjamin Samuels, WeWork’s director of enterprise sales for Europe and Israel, added: “We are excited to have Crowdcube as our newest member. They will be an active and engaging part of our community, hosting a series of events, scheduled office hours and teach-ins for our promising startups and scale ups across multiple offices.

“There are many synergies between our two businesses: we are both disruptive companies and leaders in our space, working with highly ambitious companies and ‘creators’.  We also understand the importance of building strong eco-systems to allow these businesses to grow and thrive,” Cooper added.

A win for DigitalBridge

Manchester-based firm DigitalBridge has beaten some 1,500 small tech firms from all over the globe, taking the top prize in the retail inception contest run by AI specialist NVIDIA.

The judges at the contest praised DigitalBridge’s use of mixed reality AI and deep learning to create a platform that enables usrs to virtually try on home decoration products before purchasing them.

David Levine, CEO of DigitalBridge, which is based at Manchester Science Park, said: “This is a truly significant moment for our business.

Imperial White Incubator

The Imperial White City Incubator officially opened this week.

Based at Imperial College London’s new I-HUB, the space is a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. It provides laboratory and office space to early stage startup companies from both inside and outside Imperial College.

That’s all for this week … see you next Friday!