Bristol and Bath is home to some of the world’s leading technology companies as part of a thriving cluster. 2017 will see several startups ready to break out onto the global stage. Here are a few to watch:

Graphcore founders Nigel Toon, CEO, on left, and Simon Knowles, CTO on right

1. GraphCore has raised investment backing of over $30m for its machine learning technology. This will be launched during the year as a chip, a system and complex software for adding machine learning and artificial intelligence to a wide range of applications. The first systems will be launched later this year for data centres to add machine learning to apps around the world.

2. FiveAI is developing artificial intelligence software to make mobility in towns and cities safer. It combines many different types of sensor, from lasers to radar, in a system that not just creates maps but works out what other road users are doing. The team from NVIDIA, Icera Semiconductor and Broadcom will be announcing partnerships to bring its technology to our streets over the next 12 months.

3. Fusion Processing is working with several projects developing self-driving cars with its sensor and software. Expect to see its technology on the road with the Venturer project in Bristol and Insight project in Birmingham and London.

fusion-processing-cycleeye-shutterstock_101120836The company won several awards last year (see CEO and founder Jim Hutchinson receiving the National Microelectronics Institute award above), and its technology will be used by the Welsh Government later this year to help improve safety for motorcyclists. Fusion will adapt their CycleEye technology so it can be used at junctions to detect motorcycles approaching a junction and warn other motorists to avoid collisions.

4. Ultrahaptics has developed software to allow you to touch virtual objects in mid air. Coupled with cameras or other sensors, the technology can be used to control equipment in cars and homes and is seeing significant design wins around the world that will come to market during 2017. The company has backing of over $15m and is rapidly expanding.

5. Chip maker XMOS has moved into the growing market for voice controlled systems. Devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Microsoft’s Cortana use arrays of microphones and high-performance microcontrollers to listen for commands and capture the voice patterns. The XMOS xCore microcontroller is well suited to these systems which are starting to be a significant consumer product with a wide range of manufacturers.

zeetta-networks-feature-image-techspark6. Zeetta Networks’ software defined networking technology spun out from the University of Bristol in January 2016 and has already been adopted in a range of systems, including managing all the Wi-Fi requirements at the Aston Gate stadium, home to Bristol Sport. The technology is at the heart of the Bristol is Open network and 2017 will see it moving out into other networks.

7. Blu Wireless Technology has developed technology that allows a wide range of high-bandwidth wireless applications, from Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs to Virtual Reality (VR). The team are out at the Consumer Electronics Show this week talking to customers about the latest 802.11ad 60GHz standard that is supported by BWT’s Hydra baseband chip technology. The company is also heavily involved in the development of technology for 5G cellular networks.

Nick Flaherty