Tim Robinson, COO of TechEast, brings you his monthly roundup of tech news from the East of England. This month, Robinson talks about funding news coming out of Cambridge, The Science and Innovation Audit, and some of the UK’s fastest growing tech firms – all from within East Anglia.
September has been yet another busy month in one of the UK’s most up-and-coming tech hotspots – where all three of the East’s regional capitals have been in the spotlight. Special mention goes to Norwich, which has recently been hailed as “the next Notting Hill”. With its plethora of independent coffee houses, bars, and outlets, we are certainly glad others are recognising the attraction.
Not to be left out, Ipswich and Cambridge have also been making the news. Both towns have been named among the top 15 places in the UK to work in new research by Glassdoor. Cambridge came in number three, with Ipswich placing 15th out of the top 25. Tellingly, Cambridge even had ‘software engineer’ listed among its popular careers in the area.
The local tech scene has also seen a fast-paced month with larger tech events such as VentureFest East and TalkingTech bringing the techies of the region together, along with a flurry of large funding rounds closed in the East this month.
This month, it’s Cambridge that’s been most active in generating funding news with, again, some of the most notable raises coming from artificial intelligence companies based in the region.
Cambridge-based driverless car raises £14m series A
Driverless car startup, FiveAI, has secured £14m in series A funding, from lead investor Lakestar Capital, plus existing investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Notion Capital and Kindred.
This series A round adds to a previous £12.8m government grant.
AI startup PROWLER.io raises £10m series A
Another Cambridge-based startup, PROWLER.io raised a £10m Series A, with investment from Cambridge Innovation Capital and Atlantic Bridge Capital.
PROWLER.io is an AI decision-making platform that makes it possible to see how objects, vehicles and people interact in complex environments.
Healthera’s £1m Innovate UK collaboration
Healthera, a HealthTech firm founded by professionals from the University of Cambridge, has entered into a £1m funding partnership with Innovate UK.
The funding was awarded to a consortium Healthera formed with Cegedim Rx, considered to be the UK’s largest provider of pharmacy software. The consortium will use the Innovate UK collaboration to develop Healthera’s prescription app.
East Anglian businesses make their mark on Tech Track 100
This month, The Sunday Times released its Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table which ranks the UK’s fastest-growing tech companies. Seven businesses from East Anglia were named in the 2017 Tech Track 100.
We were pleased to see Cambridge-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace being placed at number three in the league table. In 2017 alone, Darktrace raised over $180m and grew sales by 268% to £31m.
It’s not just Cambridge that produced East Anglia’s fastest-growing tech firms in 2017, though. Norwich’s Epos Now placed at number 53 with an 81.21% sales rise. Over 30,00 businesses worldwide use Epos Now’s cloud-based point of sale systems.
Also from Cambridge, CashFlows ranked 58th in the Tech Track 100, Geo Energy came 60th, and Grapeshot came in at 64.
At the far edge of the region, PrivateFly – an online private jet hire firm from St Albans, placed 87th in the league table. With a 48.38% rise in sales, PrivateFly opened an office in Fort Lauderdale to expand into the US market last year.
And finally, Norwich-based financial comparison site Know Your Money ranked 97th, with a 43.94% rise in sales.
Science and Innovation audit
Tech conference VentureFest East saw the launch of the East of England Science and Innovation Audit this month, which delivered a ‘deep dive’ survey of innovation happening across the region.
The purpose of this latest audit is to provide an additional evidence base to help inform about regional strengths, covering four key business themes: life sciences, AgriTech, advanced manufacturing and materials and ICT. The information collated will be used to feed into future government development strategy that will help to achieve future growth for the region.
Professor Tim Whitely, managing director at BT Research & Innovation, said the region’s ICT expertise “has contributed to the UK’s position as the largest digital economy of the G20 nations, underpinned by a world-class digital infrastructure”.
The audit also credits the region’s six universities for the talent that contributes to its success. However, the findings acknowledge that more must be done to ensure a steady flow of talent and investment into the region.
Microsoft pioneers HealthTech hub in Cambridge
Microsoft has chosen its Cambridge research lab as the based for its new HealthTech innovation department.
The international software giant will be using the facility to employ its AI, machine learning and cloud computing capabilities to create digital solutions designed to take strain off the NHS. Planned projects include patient monitoring systems and alerts, and research into long-term conditions like diabetes.
Leading Microsoft’s new HealthTech research is Iain Buchan, previously a clinical professor in public health informatics at the University of Manchester.
Speaking of the new research facility, Mr Buchan said: “The Cambridge lab is an exciting environment, where people think outside the box in ways that are vital for transforming, not merely translating, healthcare with smarter algorithms and connected technologies.
“The mix of disciplines in the lab blends the behavioural, social and technical approaches needed to engineer transformative tools for future healthcare. The lab stands a wonderful chance of innovating the digital health sector. It’s a very special place.”