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Four scaleups to watch in Bristol and Bath

Bristol and Bath tech

Bristol and Bath’s tech sector represents one of the UK’s fastest-growing tech ecosystems, home to just under 5,000 tech companies with a 9% growth rate across the South West.

With a cluster of world-leading research centres, both cities produce a high number of R&D-driven startups across a variety of sectors, including robotics, creative technologies and clean tech. More than 80 startups in the region began life in a university, and the region received more Innovate UK grants for R&D in 2023 than any other region.

As the region’s tech sector continues to develop, UKTN has profiled four companies which are already counted as some of the region’s big success stories.

Huboo 

Founded in 2017 in Bath and now headquartered in Bristol, Huboo aims to “put people at the heart” of ecommerce fulfilment, in contrast with how founders Martin Bysh and Paul Dodd saw the market. 

It offers a “human approach” to fulfilling ecommerce orders, using micro-hubs (or mini warehouses) supported by Huboo’s technology. 

Huboo has been dubbed “the antidote to Amazon” and has been vocal about putting its values at the heart of its growth strategy. It has raised around £97m across seed, series A and series B rounds from investors including Episode 1 Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Stride.VC, Ada Ventures and Maersk Growth. 

In September 2023, Huboo announced 130% growth over 12 months, winning 1,100 new clients worth £20m of new business. 

Cofounder and CEO Martin Bysh said: “Having launched in a tiny safe storage facility in Bath seven years ago, Huboo has become one of the world’s fast-growing ecommerce fulfilment providers, employing 600+ people across the UK, Europe, Turkey and the USA.  

“We’re hugely proud of our South West roots and the success of the business to date is in no small part down to the strength of the talent pool in Bristol and the surrounding area. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city in which to be headquartered, one that continues to attract new talent – particularly young people – across a variety of sectors, from technology to creative services.” 

Ultraleap 

Ultraleap was formed in 2019 when Bristol-based Ultrahaptics acquired US-based company Leap Motion and relaunched as Ultraleap. 

Its sensor and haptic technology allows users to experience sensations in virtual reality – aiming to make digital worlds “feel more human”. 

Founder and CTO Tom Carter first worked on the idea for his undergraduate thesis at the University of Bristol and continued developing the foundations for the company in his PhD thesis. 

In 2021 Ultraleap raised a £60m Series D round from investors including Tencent, IP Group, Mayfair Equity Partners, CMB International and British Patient Capital, bringing its total funding up to £100m. 

Tech leaders in Bristol say that Ultraleap is unusual in maintaining its Bristol headquarters after its global expansion and attracting international investment. 

Founder Tom Carter said:  Bristol and the South West’s long heritage of innovation and technology has been invaluable for us as a growing business. Ultraleap was born out of research at the University of Bristol and our headquarters have remained here due to Bristol’s fantastic position as a fast growing and vibrant tech hub.  

“Bristol is also a very attractive city for young professionals, and access to talent is very important to us.” 

Tumelo 

Founders Will Goodwin, Georgia Stewart, and Ben King started working on investment voting technology while at Cambridge University, motivated by the desire for greater transparency over the university’s endowment fund. 

The Bristol-based fintech-for-good launched in 2018 and provides retail and institutional investors and fund managers the ability to vote on proposals at companies they are shareholders in. 

Its clients include investment firms like Fidelity International and Legal & General Investment Management. In 2022 it raised a £15.35m series A round from investors Treasury, Fidelity International, Strategic Ventures and Legal & General Investment Management. 

StablePharma 

Bath-based StablePharma launched in 2012 following founder Dr Bruce Roser’s years of research into creating temperature-stabilising materials. 

The company’s StablevaX technology platform creates vaccines that do not need to be refrigerated and can be used for new and existing pharmaceutical products. 

StablePharma employs around 20 people with an office in Bath and its science team based out of an R&D centre in Madrid, Spain. 

In 2020 it received a £310,000 grant from Innovate UK and has raised around £5m across two series A rounds since. 

These scaleups were first profiled in UKTN’s regional report on Bristol and Bath