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September 2023

Startups and scaleups to watch

Cubode
Heatio
Vidivet
SupplyWell
Abjak
Doctoria
PIN IoT
FocusXR
Mutus Tech
Flow Recovery
Peepl
Ocuwell

Company spotlights

Inovus Medical

Inovus Medical is a scaleup that designs and manufactures specialised training technology for surgeons. Founded in 2012, Inovus has developed a hands-on education tool that simulates surgical procedures, offering real-time performance metrics to track the progress of students.

The St Helens-based company offers augmented reality simulations that combine real surgical instruments with an immersive digital environment. Training sessions are recorded as a basis for tailored feedback from the student’s mentor.

Inovus was founded by CEO Elliot Street, who comes from a medical background having worked as a doctor and clinical entrepreneur with the NHS, and CTO Jordan Van Flute, who provided the engineering background to the founding team.

Inovus Medical

Inovus Medical

Inovus Medical is a scaleup that designs and manufactures specialised training technology for surgeons. Founded in 2012, Inovus has developed a hands-on education tool that simulates surgical procedures, offering real-time performance metrics to track the progress of students.

The St Helens-based company offers augmented reality simulations that combine real surgical instruments with an immersive digital environment. Training sessions are recorded as a basis for tailored feedback from the student’s mentor.

Inovus was founded by CEO Elliot Street, who comes from a medical background having worked as a doctor and clinical entrepreneur with the NHS, and CTO Jordan Van Flute, who provided the engineering background to the founding team.

Inovus Medical

vTime

Launched in 2013 by games industry veteran Martin Kenwright, vTime is a virtual and augmented reality software development company based on Parliament Street in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. It has created a free app for social interaction in VR for both consumer and business applications..

To enter one of vTime’s virtual settings, users need only a smartphone and a VR headset that can accommodate it, such as a £15 Google Cardboard. Its first product was an AR and VR social network service called vTime XR. According to the business, its digital social network has amassed over 1.3m downloads from 190 countries since publishing in 2015. In 2020, vTime launched a “3D avatar messaging app” named vTag.

vTime
vTime

In August this year, vTime revealed that it was entering game development for extended reality, PC and gaming consoles with its new games division. Border Bots VR is the first game to come out from vTime Games. During this time, vTime promoted its COO Steven Craft to the chief executive role.

“There are a huge number of advantages to founding a business in Liverpool, with cost-effective rents, a globally recognised heritage, and great quality of life for staff who live in or around the region,” said Craft.

In October 2020, vTime added $4.1m to its Series A funding pot, which followed on from an opening $7.2m round in 2018 led by Deepbridge Capital. “Liverpool has been a hub of gaming innovation for years, spawning globally renowned studios and generating titles that have captivated gamers across the world,” added Craft.

Craft believes that the city is still “overlooked on the global stage” despite its contributions and initiatives like the Northern Powerhouse. Before creating vTime, which now has 47 employees, Kenwright established Evolution Studios, the games studio behind titles such as MotorStorm, WRC and DriveClub.

https://vtime.net/

vTime

Launched in 2013 by games industry veteran Martin Kenwright, vTime is a virtual and augmented reality software development company based on Parliament Street in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. It has created a free app for social interaction in VR for both consumer and business applications.

To enter one of vTime’s virtual settings, users need only a smartphone and a VR headset that can accommodate it, such as a £15 Google Cardboard. Its first product was an AR and VR social network service called vTime XR. According to the business, its digital social network has amassed over 1.3m downloads from 190 countries since publishing in 2015. In 2020, vTime launched a “3D avatar messaging app” named vTag.

vTime

Aquarate

Founded in 2016, Aquarate is a smart cup designed to track and monitor fluid intake and avoid dehydration, a problem that causes more than 40,000 deaths annually. The idea behind Aquarate’s smart cup was inspired by founder and chief executive Rebecca Taylor’s family’s struggle to make sure her grandma was eating and drinking enough.

Taylor, a design engineering student at Liverpool John Moores University, developed the mug to pair with a unique wristband that detects when patients drink fluids. This means mugs, which also have a spill detection feature, will not log fluid consumption by another person. Data on fluid consumption can be viewed by caregivers or family members through Aquarate’s online platform. The mug is designed for the healthcare industry and Aquarate provides it to care homes, hospitals and at-home care.

Hace

Aquarate

Founded in 2016, Aquarate is a smart cup designed to track and monitor fluid intake and avoid dehydration, a problem that causes more than 40,000 deaths annually. The idea behind Aquarate’s smart cup was inspired by founder and chief executive Rebecca Taylor’s family’s struggle to make sure her grandma was eating and drinking enough.

Taylor, a design engineering student at Liverpool John Moores University, developed the mug to pair with a unique wristband that detects when patients drink fluids. This means mugs, which also have a spill detection feature, will not log fluid consumption by another person. Data on fluid consumption can be viewed by caregivers or family members through Aquarate’s online platform. The mug is designed for the healthcare industry and Aquarate provides it to care homes, hospitals and at-home care.

Aquarate

Betmate

Betmate is a startup that has designed a new way to engage with sports betting to reduce the risks associated with traditional gambling services. Betmate’s primary product is a version of the classic format of fantasy football, wherein players build a team of real Premier League athletes and earn points based on their performances.

The startup has simplified the rules, removing budget restrictions for buying footballers and reducing the team size to seven-a-side. Betmate offers two fantasy football game types: private games where players compete against their friends for an agreed-upon prize, and public games where players compete against the app’s community for a guaranteed fixed prize pool.

Betmate

Betmate

Betmate is a startup that has designed a new way to engage with sports betting to reduce the risks associated with traditional gambling services. Betmate’s primary product is a version of the classic format of fantasy football, wherein players build a team of real Premier League athletes and earn points based on their performances.

The startup has simplified the rules, removing budget restrictions for buying footballers and reducing the team size to seven-a-side. Betmate offers two fantasy football game types: private games where players compete against their friends for an agreed-upon prize, and public games where players compete against the app’s community for a guaranteed fixed prize pool.

Modern Milkman

Accelerating Liverpool’s startup ecosystem

Claire Lewis
CEO, Baltic Ventures

Liverpool’s tech scene is having a moment right now: with the city selected to host the UK’s first Slush’D event this week, it’s a testament to the energy that is building here. Liverpool’s tech prowess has always been something of a best-kept secret – but that hasn’t stopped it from attracting the likes of Sony PlayStation, which acquired a number of the city’s gaming companies over the years and has an HQ in the city. Or The Times listing the Baltic Triangle as one of the coolest places to live and work in the UK.

Alongside Slush’D, Baltic Ventures is kicking off its inaugural accelerator cohort this week. Nine insanely talented founding teams, who have been selected and invested in by our syndicate of angel investors (each company joining our accelerator receives a £50,000 SEIS or EIS investment), are joining the programme that’s based at our Baltic Creative CIC studio in the Baltic Triangle.

Cubode is a platform that aims to make coding more accessible than current no-code and generative AI solutions by enabling users to accurately fine-tune code through a combination of no-code, AI, and data analytics. Cubode was highlighted as one of the UK’s hottest early-stage AI startups recently in the AI Supremacy newsletter and co- founder Rebeca Garcia has ambitious plans for growth, eyeing unicorn status in the years to come.

AI has a strong sector focus in this year’s cohort and Cubode is joined by Hexis, a personalised nutrition AI healthtech app built by LJMU phD graduates; cleantech data startup Heatio; February, a platform that uses AI to read and understand tickets in a product development backlog and convert them into coded features that are deployed and Yuty, an AI-powered platform, which is also backed by Ada Ventures, and gives brands and retailers the ability to offer customers hyper-personalised product recommendations that drive engagement, conversions and build customer loyalty.

Many of the North West’s unicorns are ecommerce giants including The Hut Group (THG), AO.com and BooHoo. Liverpool-based Very Group has a turnover of over £2bn and 4.4million customers and have partnered with Baltic Ventures to provide proof of concept opportunities to early-stage companies. This depth of sector expertise and talent in the region has been reflected in the quality of applications to this year’s Baltic Ventures accelerator cohort from ecommerce startups. Co-founded by industry pros Cam McGimpsey and Peter Lydon, Birl’s Liverpool-based platform aims to tackle the environmental impact of the fashion industry by allowing customers to trade in used clothing for credit on their favourite brand’s websites – in turn reducing waste and promoting a circular economy.

Alongside these companies are Financielle, which helps women take control of their money; Gaia Learning, a global online school that supports neurodiverse children; and rich media API IttyBit. These companies make up this year’s Baltic Ventures cohort and they are a compelling example of the diversity and quality of founder talent that Liverpool is attracting as a place to grow and scale their startups. Find out more about Baltic Ventures at https://balticventures.uk/

Claire Lewis

CEO, Baltic Ventures

Investor Focus

River Capital
Baltic Ventures
LYVA Labs
LCR Angel Network
Seneca Partners Limited
LCR Angel Network
LCR Angel Network

Launched in 2018, the LCR Angel Network is partly administrated by the Merseyside Special Investment Fund and was separated from River Capital last year. It was started by the Merseyside Special Investment Fund, Brabners, and Grant Thornton.

It has invested in a slew of Liverpool-based startups. Energy management platform Heatio is a recent tech startup to get support from the angel group when it raised £560,000 earlier this year. Liverpool-based Heatio’s platform uses a combination of sources such as building modeling, machine learning, and sensors to help reduce the energy costs of a building. Betting startup Betmate and personal safety app Busby have also received LCR Angel Network backing.

In 2022, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority gave the not-for-profit organization £500,000 in capital, matched by another £500,000 from the Merseyside Special Investment Fund. LCR Angel Network appointed its first network director Katie Nicholson in May. Nicholson is a steering committee member of Fund Her North and set up the Isle of Man-based Bridge Angel Network.

Seneca Partners Limited
Seneca Partners Limited

Operating from Newton-le-Willows, Seneca Partners has an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) portfolio fund, AIM EIS fund, and growth capital venture capital trust. It also offers debt funding and property investment. Its EIS portfolio fund invests around £500,000 in any sector and looks to achieve an exit in three to five years.

Tech investments made by the investment and advisory firm include graphene maker Directa Plus, medtech company Feedback Medical, Clean Power Hydrogen, and University of Oxford spinout Fuel 3D Technologies.

Starting in 2010, it has issued more than £130m in equity funding to more than 100 SMEs. For debt financing, Seneca has provided over £300m for over 500 SMEs. According to Seneca Partners, it has more than 2,000 investors. It has approximately £150m of property assets with an annual rent roll of £9m+.