How can innovation tackle the world’s biggest societal challenges? It’s a question that’s been at the forefront for my team as we’ve toured the UK in search of tomorrow’s tech disruptors.
During a one-month period, we’ve listened to pitches from over 80 scaleups for our KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator competition.
As we whittled that number down to 12 finalists, we found plenty of answers to that crucial question.
Whether it’s tackling climate change, supporting our ageing society or preventing the next pandemic, it’s clear that technology and innovation have a huge role to play.
Our search took us from Scotland to Wales, from London to the Midlands. Whatever the location, a significant percentage of founders said they started their business to help solve some of society’s biggest challenges.
Chief among them are sustainability and the environment.
One of our finalists – Naturbeads – completely embodies this focus on ESG. The cleantech enterprise is a product of the UK’s thriving university spinout ecosystem, commercialising an innovative process developed at the University of Bath to manufacture cellulose-based, biodegradable spherical beads to replace microplastics.
Energy resilience and sustainability have been brought into sharp focus by the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine. One of our finalists, Nanoplexus, offers MXene and 2D material to develop scalable and cost-effective clean energy infrastructures for a more sustainable future.
The world is experiencing huge cultural, demographic, economic and political shifts. The list of challenges is daunting, the uncertainty often overwhelming.
And yet after meeting the innovative tech scaleups across Britain that are stepping up to address these problems, it’s hard not to be optimistic.
Take Pockit Diagnostics, a Cambridge-based company that’s developed a rapid blood test to diagnose strokes. It’s innovations like this that will make life-saving improvements for our ageing population.
A global outlook
All of our competition finalists have strong global ambitions. They want to create technology in the UK that is transferable to a global market. This means other countries can benefit from British innovation – after all, tackling the world’s biggest problems will require a global effort.
Technologies that make the world a more equitable place and have a real social impact also featured heavily in our pitching competitions up and down the country.
Curvalux UK is a tech for good business that delivers patented fixed wireless broadband technology, offering telecom operators sustainable solutions to provide affordable high-speed and quality signal internet to remote areas and low-income households.
As we look ahead to the challenges facing the world as it recovers from the global pandemic, innovation and disruption will play a central role in our response.
How we navigate our way through the challenges ahead will depend in part on supporting the tenacious entrepreneurs and founders who start with an idea and use their passion to turn it into not just a business, but a solution.
Over 250 innovators entered our competition this year. Reaching a shortlist of 12 finalists was a challenge when there is so much talent up and down the country.
So, I would like to give our 12 finalists – Magway, Hoptroff London, Eatron Technologies, Curvalux UK, HiiROC, Inovus Medical, Nanoplexus, Novosound, Integrated Graphene, ViridiCO2, Pockit Diagnostics and Naturbeads – a huge congratulations on making it this far.
I wish you all every success for our grand finale on 21 July in Leeds!
Nicole Lowe is head of KPMG’s Emerging Giants Centre of Excellence in the UK.
This content is part of a paid partnership with KPMG.