It was a tough competition with the talent so strong and our most ever applicants, but we now have the 11 smart tech finalists for the Venturefest Bristol and Bath Silicon Gorge pitching competition!

The finalists should all be very proud, having been selected from the 49 applicants who were then whittled down to 24 pitchers who showcased their techie businesses to judges Kirsty Ranger, Rick Chapman, Rosie Bennett, Matt West and Andy Mulvenna. We were aiming to take 10 companies through to the next stage, but the decision was just too hard when it came to these final 11!

“Silicon Gorge is a really important competition to showcase to investors the companies that are building the next generation of amazing products and services”


The lucky finalists will now take part in a comprehensive workshop to perfect their pitch before the Investor Showcase where they will be persuading angel investors from across the region to take a chance on their tech company. This will take place at the new Future Space Enterprise Zone at the University of the West of England on 3 February.

The investor panel will include Charles Grimsdale from Eden Ventures, Andy Mulvenna from Accelerated Digital Ventures,  Modwenna Rees-Mogg from and Matt Penneycard from Downing Ventures. They are looking for the best ideas that impact how we live and work to coincide with the smart tech theme.

Abby Frear, Partnerships and Business Manager at TechSPARK, tells us: “Silicon Gorge is a really important competition to showcase to investors the companies that are building the next generation of amazing products and services.

“From horse wearables through quantum cyber security and underwater drones we’ve seen an awesome breadth of things on offer. This competition had our highest ever number of entries with people pitching for over £21 million and the 11 finalists have a fantastic offer to investors.”

“I know my material inside out and back to front but you never know what’s going to happen”


Tom Dewhurst, founder and CEO of Ordoo, agrees with Abby and is grateful to have such an opportunity: “It was great to pitch Ordoo in front of so many influential people in the south-west tech scene.”

Pitching to judges can go one of two ways, so it’s certainly a testing experience. Nick Broadbent, founder of Tailfin, says he found the pitch, “Nerve racking and exciting in equal measures! I’m passionate about my business and I know my material inside out and back to front but you never know what’s going to happen. You only have a few minutes to impress, so getting the content right and delivery flawless is pretty critical. It’s a brilliant environment to ‘stress test’ your business proposition.”

Sarah Bolt, founder and CEO of Humankind Ventures, agrees: “I can’t claim to love pitching but it sure does give you a buzz afterwards, especially when you feel you’ve managed to convey what is great about your business and the passion you have for it.  It’s a tall order in 3 minutes.”

Meet the finalists

Bar Exchange – @barexchange

bar-exchangeBar Exchange seeks to connect the three integral components of the drinks industry: bartenders and hospitality workers, venues serving alcohol and alcohol brand owners. The innovative solution gives bartenders a digital resume, a place to network and offers global employment opportunities – it’s been described as the “Liquid LinkedIn” by Imbibe. But, Bar Exchange goes beyond this. It provides bar managers with sought out training programmes and the most efficient recruitment tools. It also enables global drink brands to connect directly with industry professionals through their own brand page, allowing them to maintain their own marketing message whilst increasing product awareness.

EventHalo – @Event_Halo

event-haloEventHalo is here to eradicate all your outdoor event organising woes with its new app. This handy tool helps with everything from creating booking forms to recruiting volunteers and managing stock control. You’ll be happy to hear this supportive companion is completely free to use and can be accessed online or off – so no need to worry about poor countryside signal if your event isn’t in the city.

Health Apps – @healthapps_uk

health-apps-debHealth Apps makes mobile apps to support or prevent illness. The founder, Deborah Wilder (pictured left), understands the difficulties of having to maintain an accurate calculation of nutritional information after her son developed type 1 diabetes. She created Cook & Count to help manage his condition and it is now the only nutritional app that supports cooking from scratch. The app supports all medical conditions needing dietary management, as well as food allergies and intolerances. Cook & Count has come a long way – it’s even NHS approved so you can be sure you’re getting a trustworthy service.

Humankind Ventures Ltd@forthwithlife

sarah-forth-with-lifeForth is a digital health service which tracks what’s happening on the inside. Forth offers allows you to take the next step in health tracking as it gives you the power to track over 50 biomarkers integral to health, wellbeing and performance. Its proprietary software converts results data into intuitive graphics which are tracked over time and displayed through a personal health dashboard.

KETS Quantum Security Ltd

ketsKETS’ quantum security enables the strongest digital encryption. With rapid progress in both classical and quantum computing, the current methods for data encryption are quickly becoming obsolete. KETS has developed a range of technologies for quantum-secured communications based on integrated photonic technologies enabling miniaturisation and complex functionality for low SWaP (size, weight, and power) applications using cost-effective manufacturing.


moe-keycashKeyCash provides a solution for cash on delivery (CoD) orders in emerging markets. CoD is fastly becoming a popular alternative to credit card payments for e-commerce shopping, so KeyCash is offering 2 products: a messaging system that verifies CoD buyers and a credit score for CoD buyers by analysing the behaviour of those buyers using machine learning. KeyCash believes that its can help transform our cash society to cashless by supporting what people are currently using, building trust and providing convenience so that people feel comfortable with the transformation.

Ordoo – @Ordoo_UK

pitcher-1Wish you could beat the queues? If so, Ordoo has built the app for you. This digital ordering platform enhances customer experiences by allowing you to order and pay in advance at your favourite cafes, coffee shops, lunch spots and bars. With Ordoo you can browse digital menus when at your desk, on the move or in the venue – you’ll even be notified when your order is ready to minimise any unnecessary waiting around.

Propagator – @PropagatorGroup

c_robson_crop_small-propagatorPropagator is developing a suite of digital products to improve the lives of the 15 million people with one or more long-term condition such as back pain, arthritis, lung cancer and mental health issues. Propagator enables patients to manage and monitor their own condition(s) independently, effectively and cost efficiently. Its single modular cloud technology framework, which is app and web based, can be configured to any provider and any chronic condition.

Rovco – @RovcoSubsea

rovcoRovco is an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle service business, essentially using unmanned submarines known as ROVs: the original solution to expensive (we’re talking billions) and inadequate seabed equipment inspections. Rovco has developed a new 3D-imaging service that will revolutionise the way the oil industry conducts underwater inspections, allowing them to be run from the office rather than offshore on ships.

Tailfin – @TailfinCycling

tailfinTailfin is a new British cycling brand aimed at high-performance cycle commuters and tourers. Tailfin recognises the dilemma of carrying a heavy bag whilst cycling and the currently insufficient solutions, so the team has created a carbon fibre rack and pannier. The product is slick and really ticks the convenience box as it can fit almost any road bike without tools in seconds.

 Trackener – @trackener

trackenerTrackener is an innovative health wearable for horses. Trackener’s device can be placed within an ergonomically designed horse vest and it is comfortable on the horse in the stable and in the field. When riding the horse, the wearable tech can be put on a girth sleeve. Trackener is for monitoring the horses’ heart rate, behaviour and activity 24/7 by providing insights and alerts through an easy-to-use app. Trackener allows the horse owner or carer to detect and prevent health issues in the quickest and most accurate way.

Congratulations to all our finalists and good luck at Venturefest! You can find out more about what’s going on throughout the day at Venturefest Bristol & Bath’s website, or you can follow them on Twitter here: @venturefestbb.