Tim Robinson, COO of TechEast, shares his monthly roundup of the biggest tech news stories from East Anglia.
June closed with news that Huawei plans to expand its UK operations, with Cambridge likely to become the company’s UK HQ. Huawei already has a strong presence in East Anglia: the Chinese telecoms tech giant has operated at Cambridge Science Park since 2014, with a second team based at Adastral Park in Martlesham, Suffolk. It is expected that Huawei’s UK expansion will see the company prioritise development in Internet of Things.
Also from Cambridge this month came news of innovative – even game-changing – new tech. IoT firm RedBite Solutions secured £1m from Innovate UK for a project to minimise the risk of tragic fire incidents like Grenfell. Redbite Solutions will collaborate with academics to create a transparent and open asset-management app, powered by AI and machine learning algorithms. This application will ensure that vital assets – such as fire risk assessment reports in social housing buildings – are managed and monitored more safely.
Cambridge’s Nuffield Health has become the first UK hospital to use a ‘robotic arm’ to perform joint replacement surgery. The tech, developed by surgical robotics firm Stryker, enables surgeons to operate with greater accuracy and precision. It also enables doctors to produce 3D ‘plans’ to personalise surgery to each patient.
With all these great developments coming out of Cambridge, it’s no surprise the New York Times recently ran a feature exploring why Silicon Valley’s tech giants are searching the university city for talent.
Norwich-based InsurTech scaleup Validus acquired by Verisk
Motor claims analysis firm, Validus-IVC, has been acquired by US InsurTech giant, Verisk.
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Founded in 2007, Validus provides motor claims analysis to insurers, brokers, and self-insured fleet operators in the UK. Headquartered in Norwich, Validus-IVC also has a base in Bath.
Verisk is a NASDAQ-listed InsurTech firm based in Jersey City, New Jersey. In 2015, Verisk turned over $2.1bn.
The integration of the two firms provides Verisk with the enhanced analytic technology to improve and automate the motor claims settlement process. This acquisition will also allow Verisk to better serve the UK insurance market.
Edwyn van Rooyen, chief executive officer of Validus-IVC, said:
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“We’re excited to join Verisk because this will provide us additional opportunities to accelerate our momentum in the UK claims market. We look forward to adding our offerings to Verisk’s comprehensive suite of data-driven claims solutions.”
IoT sensor firms raise £5.2m
Two IoT firms from Cambridge have raised a combined total of £5.2m: Sorex Sensors Ltd and Cambridge Touch Technologies.
Sorex Sensors – a University of Cambridge spinout company – has raised £1.2m in Seed funding. Funding was contributed by Cambridge Enterprise, the Cambridge Angels, and Cambridge Capital Group.
Founded in 2017, Sorex Sensors has developed a new sensor that can be used by Internet of Things tech and the telecoms industry. The sensor uses Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator technology, making them incredibly sensitive but small in size.
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Following the investment, Elaine Loukes, investment director at Cambridge Enterprise and Richard Parmee of the Cambridge Angels will be joining the Sorex Sensors board.
Cambridge Touch Technologies also started life as a Cambridge University spinout back in 2011.
This month, the touch screen specialist closed its series A round at £4m. Cambridge Touch received funding from new investors Downing Venture and China Materialia. Existing investors Parkwalk Advisors, Amadeus Capital, and Cambridge Enterprise also contributed.
Cambridge Touch develops AI-powered technology for smartphone and tablet touch screens. The tech provides greater functionality to touch screens, including the ability for users to drag and zoom with just one touch. The firm will use the investment to develop its tech.
Richard Lewis, investment director at Downing LLP, said:
“CTT is a truly innovative 3D touch platform. Thanks to the world class team, the business has been able to develop a low cost architecture that has the potential to disrupt the global touch screen market and we’re looking forward to helping the company achieve these ambitions.”
5G use case and trials – Huawei and Nokia collaborate with BT in Suffolk
This month, BT announced partnerships with two global tech giants to further its development of 5G tech. Nokia and Huawei will work with BT Labs, BT’s research and development team based at Adastral Park in Ipswich.
BT and Nokia have partnered to work on potential uses cases for 5G. The team will also create 5G proof of concept trials, and develop emerging technology standards and equipment.
Work has already begun, with Nokia currently trialling its latest 5G-ready radio equipment at Adastral Park.
BT’s partnership with Huawei will enable pioneering research into 5G. The team will explore how faster mobile communication technologies might be applied, as well as the technical and commercial feasibility of deploying them.
Huawei will work with the BT Labs team in Ipswich – as well as other BT teams around the country – to explore many aspects of 5G, including network architecture, security, and Internet of Things connectivity.
Howard Watson, CEO of BT Technology, Service & Operations, said:
“It’s still early days for 5G technology, but experience tells us that a collaborative approach is key to success.”
Norwich-based Tropic Bioscience raises £7.4m
Tropic Bioscience, a BioTech firm based in Norwich, has completed its Series A funding round with £7.49m.
The round was led by AgriTech investor Pontifax AgTech and Five Seasons Ventures, with co-investors Tekfen Ventures and Emerald Technology Ventures also contributing.
Based at Norwich Research Park, Tropic Biosciences use gene-editing technology to develop high-performing plant varieties to feed the ever-growing global population. Tropic Bioscience is currently developing non-GMO coffee and bananas, but hope to use the funding to develop other crops.
As well as increasing crop yield, Tropic Bioscience hopes to promote grower wellbeing, consumer health, and improved sustainable environmental practices.
Cofounders, Gilad Gershon and Dr Eyal Maori, said:
“We are wholly committed to enacting real change in the global agriculture industry. We aim to aid growers by bringing genetic innovation to crops and geographies that have seen little such innovation to date; and to promote global health and consumer wellbeing by developing highly nutritious, versatile plant varieties.
“Our team is excited to have such value-added investors join our efforts and look forward to utilising the new funds in accomplishing our goal of transforming the vast global agriculture industry.”
Following the investment, Ben Belldegrun, founder and managing partner of Pontifax AgTech, has been appointed to the board of directors for Tropic.