Every year, the SPARKies celebrate the very best of digital and tech innovation in Bristol, Bath and the wider South West. The event wouldn’t be possible without the help of our silver sponsors: let’s meet these generous souls, and find out what they think makes the SPARKies such a great event.

 

REALWORLD_logo

Real World was founded by musician and songwriter Peter Gabriel in 1989. A group of music and entertainment companies situated in Box, Wiltshire – not far from Bath – the organisation includes Real World Studios and Real World Records, and organises the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) festival that takes place every year at Charlton Park.

“It’s great to see the tech sector finding a home here, and great to celebrate it,” says Mike Large, COO of Real World. “As long-standing believers in the region for more than 28 years, it’s great to see so much creative energy in such a wonderful place.”

 

techcityTechCity UK is a publicly funded organisation founded by David Cameron (yep, that one) in 2010. The aim of the organisation is to boost the growth of digital businesses and support entrepreneurship across the country.

One of the group’s flagship programmes is the Tech City UK Cluster Alliance, designed to develop the characteristic strengths of individual cities and link them up, “like different parts of the brain” in order to spark innovation. Bristol/Bath is one such cluster.

Other initiatives include the Future Fifty programme for growth stage companies, the IOT Launchpad competition for early stage startups, and the info-gathering Tech City UK Pulse programme.

“It’s so exciting to watch the pace and diversity of startups developing from the region.”

 

“I’ve watched many brilliant businesses start and scale from the South West,” says Katy Turner, Chief Marketing Officer. “I had to support the SPARKies because I believe there are some hugely exciting tech businesses being built in the region which are scaling out across the globe, carrying on the long tradition of South West engineering expertise and technology innovation.

“The thing that excites me at the moment about the region is the speed of growth. This is in part due to the maturing ecosystem, with accelerators like SetSquared and co-working environments like the Engine Shed and the Guild. But it’s also because the region contains a diverse range of traditional industries, including music and media, which have encouraged entrepreneurs to develop disruptive technology ideas around these spaces. It’s so exciting to watch the pace and diversity of startups developing from the region.”

freeagent_logoFreeAgent, launched in 2007, provides tools to help companies to stay on top of their accounts and finances. The eighth-fastest growing tech company in the UK, according to the 2013 Deloitte Fast 50, FreeAgent’s services are designed with tech-focused businesses in mind, making them a perfect fit for the SPARKies.

“FreeAgent have long been admirers and supporters of TechSPARK,” says Matt Perkins, Head of SME Engagement; “it’s great to be a part of a growing movement like this. Apart from being a fun, lively event, the SPARKies provide a wonderful platform for exciting new businesses to showcase their talents.

“It’s great to see the region growing in confidence and starting to get the recognition it deserves at last! People talk about Shoreditch and Brighton as tech hubs, but there are lots of exciting startups and growing tech-focused businesses in the Bath and Bristol area who are doing great things and pushing the region onto the ‘tech map’!”

All shortlisted companies in the SPARKies will receive a 6-month free trial of FreeAgent. That’s one good reason to get nominating your favourite business…

 

scott_logic

Scott Logic is a bespoke software consultancy company. Founded by Gary Scott in 2005, the firm provides technical strategy and development services for front-end and server-side components, with particular expertise in User Experience Design.

Since opening its Bristol office three years ago, Scott Logic has grown to over 25 developers and last year co-founded the Bristech monthly meetup, which now has over 450 active members sharing tech knowledge.

“Scott Logic is very keen to support initiatives in the local technical community and it feels right to support prizes that offer recognition for innovation,” says Head of Development Nicholas Hemley. “The SPARKies are a good way for us not only to ‘get involved’, but also meet other engaged individuals in the industry with interesting products and services.

“There appears to be a great deal of momentum in the South West at this point in time and technically-minded folk are being encouraged to move into the area as it grows its national and international profile. It feels very exciting to be a part of this movement, and we hope we can play a part in the success of this nascent tech cluster.”

This year Scott Logic is sponsoring the ‘Developer of the Year‘ award. “As a bespoke software consultancy, software development is something we’re very passionate about and we’re keen to be involved in recognition for individual developers”. Are you what Nicholas is looking for?

“The SPARKies is a great forum to recognise the fantastic businesses that have been founded and are growing in our home region.”

 

tlt

TLT LLP is a commercial law firm with offices in Bristol, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The organisation ranked in the top five UK law firms in Legal Week’s Client Satisfaction Report for 2013.

“As a leading law firm with specialist technology sector and venture capital expertise, we love working with ambitious companies,” says Partner Jon Gill, “and the SPARKies is a great forum to recognise the fantastic businesses that have been founded and are growing in our home region.

“Bristol and Bath have all the ingredients you need for a successful startup ecosystem – a strong science and technology base, specialist advisers, an entrepreneurial outlook and a culture of collaboration across the various networks to make early stage companies succeed. We are establishing ourselves as one of the pre-eminent tech clusters outside of Tech City, and the future is looking very bright indeed.”

 

op_logo_white_background_CMYKOrange Partner, an offshoot initiative of the telecommunications giant, works with developers, partners and startups to foster technological innovation. It provides a number of tools and resources for business, marketing and technical development, giving access to Orange APIs and providing networking links to industry experts.

“In the few years since its inception, the SPARKies has been an excellent showcase for the region’s tech talent,” says Adrian Grindrod, Events Manager. “Orange has a long association with Bristol and the South West region and we continue to have many global functions operating from our Bristol offices.

“We are excited to see how the region continues to grow in diversity and talent and take its place amongst the world’s best tech clusters. This year we decided to offer and sponsor a new category, ‘Developer/Coder of the Year’, to highlight this important and growing role in the tech ecosystem in the region.” Read about the new award here.

 

crowdbnk

CrowdBnk is an equity crowd-funding platform for startups and small businesses, allowing the public to invest in great ideas. Successfully funded projects include Breezie, a tablet interface for seniors; the BoxMan self-storage service; and Communicate PLC IT and telecoms services.

“The SPARKies represent so much that is good about entrepreneurship and creativity in the South West. CrowdBnk strives to work with and support high quality young businesses who have disruptive ideas and strong teams who we believe can deliver on their proposition,” says Daniel Ross, Head of Investor Relations.

“Outside of London, Bristol and Bath are two of the most exciting cities for startup talent. The region is becoming recognised as a tech cluster of global significance.”

 

“The SPARKies are a platform and showcase for this and so we are proud to present the ‘Startup to Watch 2015‘ award this year. This stands for so much of what we do: if our contribution to the event helps to grow it, improve it and give bigger voice to exciting startups, then we are further happy to be a part of this community.

“Outside of London, Bristol and Bath are two of the most exciting cities for startup talent. Further, the region is becoming recognised as a tech cluster of global significance. The rapid growth of the SPARKies over the last two years reflects this, as does the success and recognition of numerous businesses making waves in the area.”

 

bristol-and-bath-science-parkBristol & Bath Science Park is a large-scale innovation environment supporting South West science and technology businesses. It fosters company growth from early stage to established, offering laboratories, working spaces and other facilities for every step of the way.

The Forum is the Park’s networking hub, which is open to the public. The Park recently showcased at the Open Co innovation festival.

“We decided to support the awards this year for two reasons,” says Richard Pitkin, Innovation Centre Director. “Firstly because we support TechSPARK, a dynamic, truly regional tech network, but most importantly because the SPARKies are inclusive awards which address the diversity of the tech sector in the region with some genuinely innovative award categories, allowing companies, individuals, and products which have not yet been celebrated to be given a stage.

“As the digital economy evolves and plays an ever increasing role in the UK economy, the strengths of the Bristol and Bath region, both historical and present, are being recognised on a national and international level. The region has strengths which span from digital entertainment through to advanced engineering, and the digital economy provides a unique platform where innovative collaborations provide exciting opportunities.”

Excited yet? Join us! Take a look at the full list of award categories, nominate your favourite companies (before midnight on 3 October), and stay tuned for future SPARKies news by following @TechSPARKuk

Chris Jordan