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March 2024

Key players

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: Caerphilly | Founded: 2019 | Funding: £381k | Subsector: Edtech

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Elearning platform Academii provides ‘blue collar’ workforces with engaging and accessible training to ensure organisations are cultivating the skills of the future.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2017 | Funding: £4.3m | Subsector: Biotech

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Using generative AI and machine learning, Antiverse has developed a drug discovery platform which designs antibodies with specific difficult-to-drug targets associated with cancer, heart, and lung diseases.

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HQ: Wrexham | Founded: 2014 | Funding: £1.1m | Subsector: Health tech

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Aparito’s solutions digitise clinical trials to improve patient experiences and outcomes. Its decentralised platform captures trial data from participants even when they are in their own homes.

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HQ: Swansea | Founded: 2018 | Funding: £1.5m seed & £2m non-dilutive funding | Subsector: Medtech

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Combining laser spectroscopy with advanced data analytics, CanSense is developing non-invasive bowel cancer diagnostics through blood tests, minimising the need for diagnostic colonoscopies.

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HQ: Newport | Founded: 2019 | Funding: £1.7m | Subsector: Enterprise software

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Enterprise data management platform Configur helps private and public sector companies gain automation efficiencies, data insights and leverage the potential of AI by centralising and standardising organisational data.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2017 | Funding: Acquired in Nov 2023 | Subsector: Compliance

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Credas’ compliance platform streamlines customer onboarding, covering identity verification, compliance checks and smart data capture. Its end-to-end solution is used across 40 sectors including real estate, legal, finance and recruitment.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2013 | Funding: | Subsector: Insuretech

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Dynamo Cover offers an alternative to insurance brokers with a tech platform that enables users to compare and buy a range of insurance products without charging commission. Users can also manage all their policies through a centralised portal

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2019 | Funding: £373k | Subsector: Mobility

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Car rental platform FinalRentals aims to provide users with the best car rental prices while empowering local car rental companies to digitise and leverage multiple online sales and marketing channels.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2020 | Funding: Bootstrapped | Subsector: Fintech

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Investor search engine Shipshape aggregates data on more than 100,000 investment funds and investors to provide tech company founders with intelligence on the most relevant funding opportunities for them.

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HQ: Bridgend | Founded: 2019 | Funding: £1.1m investment & £161k grant funding | Subsector: Advanced materials

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TrimTabs uses recycled plastic to produce carbon nanotubes – nano-scale structures with mechanical, thermal and electrical properties that can be used for energy transmission and storage, construction materials and other applications.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2018 | Funding: £310k | Subsector: Virtual Reality / Spatial computing

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Virtus Tech is on a mission to democratise virtual reality with its no-code VR solutions, enabling small and medium-sized businesses to create immersive simulations and experiences.

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HQ: Cardiff | Founded: 2016 | Funding: | Subsector: Mobility

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Wagonex offers an all-inclusive car subscription service as an alternative to car financing and leasing, with a ‘one-stop-shop' platform presenting a range of suppliers and packages.

Ammar Akhtar,
founder and CEO at Finalrentals.

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I’m often asked why Wales? I see Wales as the next Silicon Valley. Businesses based in Wales have access to an enormous amount of talent, investment and mentors which are three very important aspects when you are relocating your startup.

Unlike other countries in the UK, Wales is not saturated. Founders have incredible support networks at their fingertips such as Tramshed Tech and Fintech Wales. Coming to Wales has changed my life. Prior to being here, I was bootstrapping and trying to make ends meet, but Wales taught me that I can scale. Now, I can imagine Finalrentals being a unicorn. Things that take months in England, take weeks if not days in Wales.

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Company spotlights

AMPLYFI

Founded in 2015, Cardiff-headquartered AMPLYFI leverages data science and AI to turn unstructured data – i.e. articles and text-based information – into automated market insights and signals.

The result is actionable intelligence used by both private enterprises and public sector organisations to support decision-making across sales, marketing, and strategy. CEO Paul Teather, who first invested in AMPLYFI and became a board member in 2017, told UKTN that his involvement with the company was born out of his belief both in the power of its business intelligence solution and in the growth potential of the Welsh tech sector more generally, where he saw research, public sector and private industry players working together to put emerging technologies to use.

While AMPLYFI has grown considerably in the past nine years, it benefits from its roots in Wales; Paul estimates that around 65% of its workforce is based in Wales, with more employees who are Welsh by nationality but living elsewhere. He says that hiring the right people in Wales has “never been a problem” despite the company’s need for specific AI and data science skills. In a previous interview, co-founder and current non-executive director Chris Ganje explained that they had chosen Cardiff for the company’s headquarters after a thorough assessment of global cities, in which Cardiff came out top for access to talent and quality of life.

AMPLYFI now works with the likes of the Ministry of Defence, BNP Paribas, Bayer and Airbus, while also collaborating on a research project with CSET (Centre for Security and Emerging Technology).

Paul credits AMPLYFI’s success in part to its ability to serve both the public sector (in the UK and beyond), and the private sector, and believes that unlocking private sector and international markets is key for ambitious, high-growth Welsh tech businesses.

“As a company with customers in diverse industries and geographies, it’s always been imperative that we base ourselves in an area that supports our global ambitions,” says Paul. “Being headquartered in Cardiff has been advantageous for us in many respects, particularly given the impressive support infrastructure that the Welsh government has put in place for SMEs. That collaborative sense of community, coupled with the world class academic institutions that play a significant role in our talent acquisition strategy, has made Wales the ideal home for us as we continue on our fast growth journey”.

Delio

Fintech company Delio digitises the private markets strategies of leading banks, wealth managers and other financial firms. The company has grown to more than 70 employees since its founding in 2015, with teams operating globally and a significant proportion of its workforce based in Wales from headquarters in Cardiff.

It now works with more than 90 financial institutions worldwide, including Barclays, UBS and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. In 2022 Delio raised a $8.3m (£6.5m) investment round led by Octopus Ventures, aimed at enhancing its international operations further.

The funding brought Delio’s total investment up to £15m, including additional investment from early backer Maven Capital. The company has won numerous awards in Wales and beyond – most recently team of the year in 2023 for its marketing team at the Fintech Wales awards, where it was introduced as one of Wales’ fastest-growing companies.

Cardiff-based employees have participated in local initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and digital skills among young people, including 2B Enterprising, which took Delio employees on a series of visits to run entrepreneurial-themed activities at a local primary school over the course of a year.

Co-CEO, Gareth Lewis, said: “Delio has evolved from a startup in Wales to a globally recognised private markets technology firm. Our growth trajectory has seen us expand beyond borders, trading internationally and serving clients worldwide. Leveraging our cutting-edge technology and strategic partnerships, we've expanded into new markets, delivered innovative solutions, and solidified our position in the industry.

“While navigating challenges inherent in scaling a tech company, operating in Wales has provided Delio with access to top talent and supportive infrastructure, propelling us to international success and facilitating seamless global trading.”

The Safeguarding Company

Based at Talbot Green in South Wales, The Safeguarding Company (TSC) has had an impressive growth journey from its launch in 2014 (known then as OneLogic), to its acquisition in 2023 by Tes – a global digital education company.

Founded by former senior police officers Martin Baker and Mike Glanville, alongside technical co-founder Darryl Morton, The Safeguarding Company developed digital and software-based safeguarding solutions designed to reduce harm and protect the wellbeing of children in various contexts.

In 2019 the company secured £3.2m growth funding from Octopus Ventures, stating at the time that it planned to develop the platform and would create new jobs.

TSC has engaged in different support programmes in Wales and the UK over the years, and has been recognised with awards including multiple Welsh startup awards in 2017, followed by the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the innovation category the next year.

Veeqo

In 2021, eight years after being set up, Swansea-based software company Veeqo was acquired by Amazon. The company – which provides ecommerce shipping software solutions – subsequently hired 50 new employees, doubling its workforce and establishing Amazon’s first development centre in Wales.

The acquisition continued Veeqo’s stated mission to bring high-paying tech jobs to Wales and invest in both the economy and local talent.

It achieves this by working closely with universities like the University of Swansea and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to provide work experience for highly skilled students, alongside sponsoring initiatives that benefit the local community, including coding workshops and tech meetups for women.

Despite a nationwide increase in remote working, Veeqo has also attracted job candidates outside of Wales who have decided to relocate to Swansea. The company recently worked with the Welsh government to produce a video in Welsh detailing its efforts to promote tech jobs in the country.

Sophie Webber,
innovation & partnerships manager at Tramshed Tech.

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It’s fantastic to see the Welsh tech community not only growing in scale, but also maturing as an ecosystem. As well as a growing number of startups being created here, we’re seeing an increased number of those startups turning into scaleups and expanding into international markets. With success stories like Swansea-based Veeqo being acquired by Amazon, it only reinforces the fact that we will see more and more tech companies growing in size and scale in the next few years and really make an impact at a global level.

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Investor focus

Cardiff Capital Region’s Innovation Investment Capital

Innovation Investment Capital launched in November 2022 as part of Cardiff Capital Region’s plans to support high-growth technology companies in South East Wales. The £50m equity fund looks to invest long-term capital in sustainable growth opportunities, with Capricorn Fund Managers (CFM) responsible for managing the fund as general partner, and PwC supporting CFM in advisory matters, including investment research and sourcing.

Investments are targeted at between £2m and £7m in a sector-agnostic strategy which prioritises innovative scaleups in the region or companies which have already made a legal commitment to expand or relocate to the region for the long term.

The investment team looks for companies that are revenue-generating and run by a strong management team with a verifiable track record, where founders have already invested in the company. Deals generally seek a minimum stake of 10%.
To date, the fund has made two investments, into AI insights company AMPLYFI, and remote accountancy services provider Mazuma.

Rob Asplin, PwC Partner, said: “The tech landscape in South East Wales is well established across fintech, cybersecurity, software development, biotech and more. This is partly down to location, the startup ecosystem, tech networks and collaboration, access to talent, as well as a real desire to innovate.

“IIC’s recent investment in Bridgend-based Mazuma is an excellent example of a business that is pushing boundaries and disrupting a traditional space, which in their case is the accountancy sector. Since the fund was launched, in November 2022, we have seen dozens of exceptional and innovative tech businesses, many of which we continue to monitor.”

Foresight Equity Finance, the Investment Fund for Wales (IFW)

In late 2023, Foresight announced it would manage the £50m equity fund as part of the Investment Fund for Wales (IFW), which is operated by the British Business Bank and totals £130m.

A spokesperson at Foresight told UKTN that alongside the IFW equity fund, Foresight VCTs also have the potential to invest hundreds of millions across Wales.

To date, Foresight has invested £40m into seven companies across Wales. The first investment from the IFW fund was a £650,000 equity investment into Caerphilly- based online adventure travel brand EverTrek, announced in February 2024. The team invests across all sectors and transaction types, providing initial investments of up to £10m.

“We’re delighted to officially launch in Wales and look forward to supporting ambitious and growing SMEs with equity funding,” said Stephen Galvin, IFW – foresight equity finance principal, Foresight Group.

“There is undoubtedly a vibrant business ecosystem located across Wales and many companies already successfully operate within the technology, software and manufacturing sectors. Equity funding – and particularly the Investment Fund for Wales which is operated by the British Business Bank – will strengthen and evolve existing tech hubs in Wales, enabling companies to grow, innovate and create high-quality, local jobs.” 

Development Bank of Wales

Since launching in 2017, the Development Bank of Wales has invested more than £700m into over 3,000 businesses in Wales, with £124.2m invested into more than 500 businesses in 2022/23 alone. Funds under management total £1.9bn and include the £20m Wales Technology Seed Fund II, the £8m Wales Angel Co-Investment Fund, and the £500m Wales Flexible Investment Fund.

Investments are focused on impact startups and particularly specialise in seed, early-stage and series A funding stages – up to £10m available per deal. Through the Wales Angel Co-investment Fund, Dev Bank can match fund business angel syndicates investing in Welsh businesses.

Angels Invest Wales, is the largest angel network in Wales – and the network completed 25 transactions in 2022/23 with a total investment value of £2.3m. In 2023, the Bank launched and backed Women Angels of Wales – Wales’ first all-women investment syndicate.

Many tech businesses featured in this report have received backing from the Development Bank, including home-grown AI insights business AMPLYFI. More recent notable investments by Development Bank include Newport-based fintech Hope Macy which helps financial institutions support vulnerable customers, and Reacta Healthcare based in North Wales, which designs and manufactures clinical trial meals to diagnose and monitor food allergies.

Technology venture investments director Duncan Gray said: “The tech sector is a real hotspot in Wales and we’re proud to be right at the heart of what’s happening here by providing equity investment alongside our co-investors to drive innovation and create new opportunities.”

Driving innovation and creating opportunity

Rhian Elston, investment director, Development Bank of Wales.

As the biggest equity investor in Welsh businesses – participating in over 350 deals across the high-growth ecosystem in the last 10 years – the Development Bank of Wales is at the heart of the tech industry in Wales.

We’re at the forefront of putting Wales on the map by supporting innovative technology businesses to start up and scale. We offer loans and equity investment across a wide spectrum of stages and sectors. From seed and early-stage funding for exciting high-tech startups through to multi-million-pound investments in established businesses, we often invest alongside syndicates of venture capitalists, angels and trade investors.

As an impact investor, we’re purpose-driven. We provide sustainable funding to support long-term financial and social impact and grow the market in Wales. For us, it’s about doing the right thing – bringing ambitions to life and fuelling possibilities for people, businesses and communities in Wales.

A supportive ecosystem

Links to university research and commercial centres, regional incubators and access to business development support as well as insight from our own research unit, Economic Intelligence Wales, means that, as a bank, we offer much more than just funding.

As an institutional investor an Innovate UK partner, our investments are benchmarked against the market so that we can support our customers with funding packages that include substantial co-investment from private, corporate and other institutional investors as well as business angels and angel syndicates.

This is taken a step further in deals where we can also leverage match-funded co-investment through our angel network, Angels Invest Wales, and syndicates like Women Angels of Wales. This collaborative approach is increasing the flow of funds in Wales and creating new sources of capital for innovative businesses while generating opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Following our money

Our ability to make follow-on investments across many stages of business growth is what makes us different. We continue to back high-performing businesses working with management from seed and startup through to exit.

Bridgend-based AI technology firm Clinithink has benefited from our support over the last 11 years. Having first supported the company with an equity investment in 2012, we’ve since made five follow-on investments with a recent funding round taking the total capital to over £5m. Clinithink also has the backing of major specialist health funds in the US.

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The Development Bank has backed our business from the very early days, supporting us through various fundraising rounds on the journey to becoming an established global health tech brand.

Marc Goldman, chief operating officer at Clinithink.

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Marc Goldman, chief operating officer at Clinithink.

Our focus on building long-term relationships with our customers means that we work with a diverse portfolio across sectors and business stages. This includes fintech company Wagonex as a great example of how our equity investment can attract fast-growth tech businesses to Wales, leverage substantial co-investment and grow with follow-on money.

The company has delivered more than 120% year-on-year growth since relocating to Cardiff in 2019. This followed an initial equity investment by the Development Bank as part of a seed investment round with a further two follow-on equity investments. Wagonex now also has the backing of Admiral Pioneer as a strategic co-investor.

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The ongoing support of the Development Bank as our long-term institutional investor demonstrates the strength of our business and gives us the necessary firepower to rapidly scale in the UK.

Toby Kernon, founder and CEO of Wagonex.

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Toby Kernon, founder and CEO of Wagonex.

From initial seed finance to growth capital, we’re here to help tech businesses grow and thrive in Wales. Find out more at developmentbank.wales

Rhian Elston,
investment director, Development Bank of Wales.