West Midlands treasures: 10 tech startups sparkling success in 2021
While the UK has numerous tech hubs including London being the biggest and then Manchester, Cambridge and others, the West Midlands is another region in the country which has a lot of potential and home to one of the largest regional fintech clusters in the UK. The region comprises cities like Birmingham, Solihull, Warwick and Leamington Spa.
Recently, we did a story on London’s startups which was all about how despite the global pandemic and the UK’s exit from the European Union, London tech firms raised $10.5 billion (approx £7.6 billion) in 2020 – significantly more than the total amount raised in 2017 (£5.1B) and 2018 (£4.3B) and close to the record in 2019 (£7.8B).
As per new data by UK-based Tech Nation, a growth platform for tech companies and Adzuna, the job search engine, tech companies in the West Midlands raised three times more funds in 2020 than the £132M funding in 2019.
Besides funding, tech vacancies accounted to 14% of all the roles in Birmingham, thereby making it the fastest-growing sector in the city. Minister for Digital Caroline Dinenage said: “It is fantastic to see these new figures showing the strength and depth of the West Midlands tech sector.”
So if you want to know which West Midlands tech companies are already in the news, have raised fundings recently or are expected to grow up the trajectory this year, here is a list which you should take a look at.
Founder/s: Ben Francis
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: 240 £M
The West Midlands tech success story in 2020 was Gymshark, the Solihull-based fitness e-commerce platform which raised £200 million in growth equity funding to become the region’s second-ever unicorn, a private company valued at $1 billion or more. However, Gymshark isn’t the only tech company making waves from the region.
The sports clothing company now has plans to expand internationally, especially into North America.
Founder/s: Gil Naor
Founded year: 2009
Total funding: 136
Gymshark isn’t the only tech company making waves from the region. Other startups and fast growing tech businesses are raising larger rounds too including MitrAssist, a biotech firm that has created a minimally invasive way to treat heart valve disease, which raised £51 million in Series B funding in December 2020.
The investment came from its existing investors including Chinese Fosun Pharma and Ping-An, an insurance company along with four large Chinese funds. The company debuted successful human trials in 2019 and plans to market the same in about two years.
Founder/s: Melissa Snover
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: NA
Nourished is a Birmingham-based British startup owned by Melissa Snover, a serial women entrepreneur from America. Nourished is a customisable and personalised nutritional product touted to be the first 3D printed edible vitamin tablet in the world. In March last year, Nourished secured £2M funding from HenkelX, Apater Capital and business angels. The investment will be used to optimise operational efficiencies related to production and development of new product lines and the global expansion of its business.
Delta Financial Systems
Founder/s: Michael Power
Founded year: 1996
Total funding: NA
Delta Financial Systems hit the headlines last year when it got acquired by Bravura Solutions. The software company from Birmingham was acquired for £23M to boost the software suite of Bravura Solutions. Notably, Delta Financial provides technology to power complex pension administration in the UK.
Founder/s: Amrit Chandan, Carlton Cummins
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: 2.6 £M
In July last year, Birmingham-based Aceleron, which is a developer of sustainable and reusable battery solutions, bagged £2M equity investment in a round led by BGF along with its existing investor Mercia Asset Management. As informed in the company press release, the fund were being put to use for scaling the production of Aceleron’s unique circular economy battery technology and expanding its reach across global markets including the UK, Europe, Africa and America.
Founder/s: James Quinn, Kevin Quinn
Founded year: 2011
Total funding: 10.9m
Clarilis, the high-growth legal technology business, raised £6M Series B investment in August 2020. The funding was pumped by its existing investor, the Northern Venture Capital Trust Funds (VCTs) managed by Mercia, and Gresham House Ventures, investing on behalf of the Baronsmead VCTs.
The tech startup basically drives higher performance and success for law firms and in-house legal teams, enabling them to work smarter and provide more strategic value.
Founder/s: Don-Paul Dhaliwal
Founded year: 2015
Total funding: €1.2M
Conigital, which stands for Connected Digital is a driverless vehicle and transport company which secured over £1M funding in one day Seedrs crowdfunding campaign in November 2020.
The Birmingham-based startup intends to fuel its global expansion with offices in the UK, Europe, Australia and India.
CEO: Will Flint
Founded year: 2018
Based out of Birmingham, Energym is a smart-tech fitness company, which builds clean-energy generating gym equipment that turns your workout into usable electrical power. It is located at Innovation Birmingham, which is a part of Bruntwood Scitech and the largest digital campus in the UK. It also secured Series A funding for its high-growth scaling. Recently, it has got a lot of attention from the gym chains in the UK and secured five first contracts atleast.
Founder/s: Harry Smith, Jack Cornes
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: £210k
HausBots, is another innovative Birmingham startup that is working on a painting robot. The company has developed a robot that can scale exterior walls that are tough or dangerous to access. These robots can assess wall surfaces via a live monitoring camera feed to find out the best course of treatment.
Founder/s: Stan Karpenko
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: €122k
In March last year, GiveVision partnered with Sony to develop and manufacture wearables for people with visual impairments. As part of the collaboration, GiveVision will relocate its design office to the Sony UK Tech facility in Wales. Notably, GiveVision received support from Telefonica, Pfizer and the NHS as of now. The virtual and augmented reality startup uses its technology to help patients suffering with sight loss.
Gaming is another key area the West Midlands excels in, with around 130 companies across the region, including the likes of Ubisoft, Codemasters and Playground Games calling the area home. It helps that there are 10 universities in the region, providing a regular stream of skilled graduates, eager to take up jobs at exciting and dynamic companies. Is your startup based in the West Midlands? What do you like about the region? Do share with us in the comments section below.