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May 2024

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Company spotlights

Current Health

In 2015, Chris McGhee and Stewart Whiting founded Current Health – then called Snap40 – as a health monitoring solution which could track vital signs remotely via a wearable device, including oxygen saturation and variations in blood pressure. McGhee, who studied both medicine and computer science, has said that he was motivated by seeing his grandmother hospitalised for problems which could have been managed at home with the right tools.

Two years later, the company, based in Edinburgh, received EU regulatory clearance for its wearable and secured its first NHS trust customer. FDA clearance followed in 2019 which launched the company into the US market. The Covid-19 pandemic saw a surge in demand for remote health monitoring solutions, and the team responded to the changing needs of the healthcare sector with a new wearable designed to provide safety monitoring in an international Covid-19 vaccine trial.
In 2021 – while the pandemic restrictions were gradually lifting in both the US and the UK – Current Health had two notable developments, including bringing their clinical team in-house and raising a $43m series B round with participation from large health tech VCs from around the world and Scottish investor Par Equity. Just months later, Current Health was acquired by US electronics company Best Buy for £300m.

Current Health now has two global headquarters – Edinburgh and Boston, US – with almost 300 employees. McGhee left Current Health last month, sharing on Linkedin: “Building this company has been the experience of a lifetime. From our tiny start in Scotland, our team has achieved so much. We have… achieved the second-largest digital health venture exit in European history, and second-largest tech venture exit in Scottish history. Mostly, I’m proud of our contribution to the growth and development of care at home in the US and UK.”

Blackford Analysis

Blackford Analysis spun out of the University of Edinburgh in 2010 with an AI solution created to enhance clinical practices and usher in a new era of patient care. Founder and CEO Ben Panter first developed a product to improve the diagnostic process for MRI and CT scans, allowing radiologists to quickly assess and compare scans taken at different times. The product is used in more than 1,000 hospitals and imaging centres globally, and three years after launch Blackford began working with commercial imaging system providers to integrate its technology, including IBM, Intelerad Medical Systems and Nikon.

In 2015, the Edinburgh-based company launched its platform business model which aggregates and integrates third-party medical imaging AI solutions. In 2023 Blackford Analysis was acquired by global life science company Bayer. Announcing the acquisition, Blackford stated that it will continue to operate as an independent organisation on an arm’s-length basis to preserve its entrepreneurial culture and plans to remain headquartered in Scotland.
Panter said: “I’m extremely proud of everything our team has achieved and look forward to continuing to expand our partnerships across the industry. I’d like to acknowledge our investors’ unwavering support over the last twelve years, and I’m delighted to be returning value that can be reinvested in the next generation of entrepreneurial companies in Scotland.”

Startups & scaleups to watch

The following startups and scaleups were named by tech stakeholders in Wales for their high-growth potential. Selected companies were each nominated by at least two different and independent stakeholders.

Click on company logos to reveal more information.

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HQ: Edinburgh | Founded: 2015 | Funding: Undisclosed | Subsector: Regtech

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Amiqus is a compliance platform for legal, recruitment, public sector and financial services companies, covering digital identity verification, AML/KYC checks and pre-employment screening.

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HQ: Edinburgh | Founded: 2016 | Funding: £9.8m | Subsector: Proptech

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Workspace market Desana provides a platform to manage, pay for and use workspaces, with data analytics to inform workplace strategies.

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HQ: Glasgow | Founded: 2021 | Funding: £2.65m | Subsector: HR tech

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Freelance and contract work platform Gigged.ai uses AI to help businesses find and hire the right person for project work.

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HQ: St Andrews | Founded: 2013 | Funding: £75.8m | Subsector: Agritech

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IGS designs and builds industrial-scale vertical farms aiming to create the perfect growing environment, year-round.

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HQ: Glasgow | Founded: 2018 | Funding: £6.3m | Subsector: IoT

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Krucial’s solution combines satellite communications with IoT to help businesses achieve resilient connectivity and digitise operations.

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HQ: Glasgow | Founded: 2015 | Funding: £24.4m | Subsector: Biotech

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Phlo is a digital pharmacy providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for medication needs, including medication and prescription management, advice from pharmacists and wellness services.

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HQ: Edinburgh | Founded: 2017 | Funding: £7.2m | Subsector: Sports tech

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PlayerData’s wearable GPS tracker vest provides elite-level sports coaches with players’ performance insights which are quick to interpret for informed decision-making.

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HQ: Aviemore | Founded: 2022 | Funding: £650k | Subsector: Climate tech

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Rethink Carbon is a land management platform providing detailed analysis of land to enable owners to visualise and map future land use scenarios and evaluate the economic potential of their land.

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HQ: Glasgow | Founded: 2019 | Funding: Bootstrapped & grant funded | Subsector: Travel tech

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Luggage storage company Unbaggaged manages the end-to-end process via its digital platform, including picking up luggage from users and dropping it back to them wherever they are in a city.

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HQ: Edinburgh | Founded: 2020 | Funding: Undisclosed | Subsector: Legal tech

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Valla is a legal platform for workers to self-represent in cases against employers, with the functionality to raise a complaint, send professional legal documents and navigate settlements or tribunals.

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HQ: Edinburgh | Founded: 2023 | Funding: Currently closing on an $11.4m round | Subsector: Climate tech/environmental tech

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Edinburgh based climate tech spinout provides patented technology that captures carbon dioxide from industrial emissions.

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HQ: Aberdeen | Founded: 2018 | Funding: Undisclosed, Series A fundraise closing imminently | Subsector: Robotics and AI

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Leap AI specialises in artificial intelligence-enabled robotics for the food production sector, with its PikPak solution designed to pack a wide variety of products, from small snacks to large cartons.

Graeme Williams, head of M&A – Scotland, KPMG in the UK 

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The Scottish tech sector has developed rapidly over the last five years in terms of the number of businesses scaling, and the inward investment they receive. Scotland is increasingly being viewed as a strong place for tech investment – supported by recent government and private investments.

The tech sector is growing one and a half times faster than the overall Scottish economy. It is predicted to be the second-fastest growing area of the economy over the next five years and now has close to 15,000 directly associated businesses in operation. This has resulted in the employment of over 400,000 people, turnover of over £220bn and top performing areas including net zero, clean tech, energy generation, life sciences and health tech.

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Sponsor feature: Scottish tech scaleups and their journeys

Scottish National Investment Bank

Scotland’s tech sector has been growing steadily over the years, with Edinburgh often hailed as one of the largest hubs for tech and innovation startups in the UK after London.

Since 2018, a total of 196 deals in IT have closed, with 2022 holding the record number of deals, followed closely by 2021. It is safe to assume that this was due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with workers and students being forced to work from home. Coupled with a fall in investments related to retail and hospitality due to lockdown restrictions, the Scottish tech industry experienced a boom. The level of deals closed in 2023 fell back to its 2020 number of 30. This does not necessarily imply a dip in the Scottish tech industry, but more likely points to the recovery of other sectors.

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Total Deals Closed

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
23
2018
32
2019
30
2020
39
2021
40
2022
30
2023
2
2024

Figure 1: Total Deals Closed in Scotland (2018 – 2024)

All private equity and venture capital deals closed between January 2018 and February 2024, with a value over 1 million GBP and categorised under Information Technology (IT) , extracted from Pitchbook. Investments in digital healthcare services were not a part of this dataset.

Since 2018, there has been a steady increase in the value of IT deals closed. The average value surrounding deals closed at greater than £1 million has increased significantly, settling in at £6.97 million in 2023. We can speculate that the reason for the 2021 average being low is digital healthcare is not included in this dataset, and we know there was a boom of these throughout the pandemic.

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Average Deal Value per Year and Overall (2018-2023)

£8.00
£7.00
£6.00
£5.00
£4.00
£3.00
£2.00
£1.00
£0
£2.54
2018
£4.15
2019
£4.85
2020
£3.65
2021
£5.97
2022
£6.97
2023

Figure 2: Average Value of Deals per year

While data tells us the tech ecosystem is buoyant in Scotland, we know there are challenges faced by Scottish tech companies when it comes to scaling up. Specifically, it proves difficult to attain later-stage funding in order to properly scale up a company, something which the Scottish National Investment Bank is focused on supporting through our mission-led investment strategy. Talent retention can prove difficult in Scotland, especially when competing with larger tech hubs like London. However, as the Scottish tech sector continues to grow and startups move on to the scaleup phase, more attractive work opportunities will arise.

The Scottish economy is on a fruitful journey to overcoming these challenges. One example is the emergence of the space sector in Scotland which has fuelled technological innovation, driving advancements in areas such as advanced materials, robotics, AI, and software development, which have applications beyond the space sector. UK spaceflight company, Orbex, has just secured funding from a number of backers, including the Bank, in its series C round.

It now has two active patents in a number of European countries and the United States covering various parts of its rocket technology. It is a great example of the growth of the space industry creating high-skilled jobs in engineering, data science, and software development, strengthening Scotland’s tech workforce and attracting talent from other regions of the UK and the world, helping to enhance Scotland’s position as a tech sector force.