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Innovate UK

Upscale to scale-up

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33 of the UK’s most promising tech companies have been inducted into the Upscale programme run by Tech City UK, an organisation working to accelerate the growth of the UK’s digital economy.

Upscale is a six-month programme to help the most promising early stage start-ups to begin their scaling journey. Companies receive mentorship from some of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, an essential component in supporting their journey from start-up to scale-up.

Our Chief Development Officer, Kevin Baughan, described the importance of scale-up, and of supporting UK businesses through this stage of their development, in his recent blog post. As Kevin notes in his post, Prime Minister Theresa May stated her desire to

turn our bright start-ups into successful scale-ups by backing them for the long-term

in her speech to the CBI late last year.

Here at Innovate UK, we are delighted to see five companies that we have supported being awarded places on the Upscale 2017 programme –

33 companies have been awarded places on Tech City UK’s Upscale 2017 programme

Signal Media – intelligently monitoring the news

Signal Media partnered with the University of Essex and researcher Dr Miguel Martinez-Alvarez in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by Innovate UK. Their work together has led to both business growth for Signal Media and personal success for Miguel.

Bringing the latest innovations in text analytics and data science to Signal Media, a company providing online information monitoring and tracking for other businesses, resulted in this KTP being named the best KTP of the year at our 2015 KTP awards ceremony.

Signal Media showed significant growth and Miguel joined as co-founder following the impact of his contribution. The company now operates across 40 international markets, in 90 languages.

With ‘fake news’ a common discussion topic of late, Signal Media’s work in artificial intelligence powered news monitoring is very timely.

Here’s our video of Signal Media’s story:

To add to their place on the Upscale programme, Signal Media’s CEO David Benigson has very recently been named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list. Congratulations David!

Mixcloud – rethinking radio for a digital audience

Mixcloud is a digital audio streaming platform that allows users to listen to radio from all over the world. Over one million users act as curators of the radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts on the platform.

There are plenty of innovation podcasts on there! Mixcloud has seen significant growth, reaching 17 million users per month.

Mixcloud has received three grants from Innovate UK, two as part of collaborative R&D consortia developing the delivery, discovery and personalisation of internet radio using connected devices. Co-founder Mat Clayton was quoted by as saying:

“In all honesty, the company wouldn’t be around without them [the Innovate UK grants]. They are non-equity based grants, so the equity is still owned within the company.”

Here’s a video of Mixcloud describing their platform:

Elvie – the internet of things meets very personal training

Elvie, created by tech company Chiaro, is an exercise tracker for the pelvic floor.

Let me fill you in on why this innovation is proving popular - bear with me! According to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, over 9 million women in the UK have some form of bladder problem. Bladder problems are associated with weaker pelvic floor muscles; weakness in these muscles can also affect women’s sex lives. But many women only think about pelvic floor exercises once they are pregnant or have already had a baby.

Elvie is a breakthrough product – it uses smartphone connectivity to allow users to track progress and find out how to improve their pelvic floor exercise technique.

Essentially, gamifying pelvic floor exercises.

Innovate UK supported Chiaro in their development of Elvie through feasibility study, proof of concept and development of prototype funding aimed to help de-risk Chiaro’s innovation and get their ideas off the drawing board.

Chiaro’s co-founder and CEO Tania Boler has seen the benefits of these awards:

“Innovate UK has been an amazing partner. I’ve also been involved with some of the mentorship programmes. Innovate UK helped bring in the first investor as well as my co-founder Alexander [Asseily]. In so many ways it was transformational.”

2016 was a big year for Elvie with Tania winning the Innovator Award at the 2016 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website featuring the product.

Here’s our video of Chiaro and Elvie’s story:

Small-scale funding can make a big difference

Innovate UK also supported two companies featured on the Upscale 2017 list by providing small seed-corn funding awards during their development:

  • Goodlord, a cloud-based system for paperless processes for rental landlords, aiming to make renting a property as easy as buying something from websites like Amazon; and
  • Cambridge Intelligence, helping organisations to uncover new insights in their data – identifying unusual connections and hidden patterns. Cambridge Intelligence has achieved 80% growth year on year.

Congratulations to all 5 companies – Innovate UK is proud to have been part of their innovation journeys, and we look forward to hearing more on their future success.

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