Spotlight on: 17 top tech company investment raises in Bristol and Bath
TechCity’s UK digital tech sector report recently showed how Bristol and Bath are revelling in the success of its tech cluster, boasting an impressive £109 million of investment raised by its tech businesses and startups in 2016/17.
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To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of some of the most impressive investment raises by individual technology companies in the region, including some not listed in that report. This makes a total investment of over £200m in the region – Go South West!
Graphcore – $110m (£84m)
Bristol-based startup Graphcore fast tracked its way to an impressive raise of $30million from worldwide venture capitalists late last year, as well as an additional $30m in July 2017, bringing its first-round investment up to a colossal $60m, in order to develop its machine learning and artificial intelligence chip and system development technology.
This November Graphcore raised a further $50million from Sequoia Capital, who were also private early investors in the likes of Apple, PayPal, Instagram, Oracle, Nvidia and Google. Sequoia is based in the heart of Silicon Valley and rarely invest in European ventures, so this is quite a coup for the company.
Graphcore has emphasised keeping investors relevant to its goals. So, with plans to have its chips powering the edge of the internet in consumer devices and driverless cars, having investors that specialise in this field such as Samsung, Bosch, Uber and Google’s Deepmind has formed part of its key to future success.
Green Hedge – £30m
Bath-based renewable energy firm Green Hedge raised a huge £30m investment from Zouk Capital this year in order to expand the production and operation of its battery-energy storage units across the UK.
The storage units, which have an exceptionally small land footprint and produce zero pollution, work by charging from the grid and then feeding electricity back again when it is needed. Usually, polluting power stations or diesel generators provide the electricity at these times but, with the Green Hedge battery system, these peak needs are catered for by the excess energy created at times of less power demand.
Posing significant potential for the production of green energy, once rolled out across the country, the company’s battery projects could store as much energy as that produced by 750 acres of solar panels.
FiveAI – £26.8m and $2.7M (£2m)
FiveAI is a Bristol-based startup that’s developing artificial intelligence and machine learning software for fully autonomous vehicles.
In September 2017 FiveAI received a £14m investment from lead investor Lakestar Capital, plus existing investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Notion Capital and Kindred. This is on top of the £12.8M in government funding FiveAI’s consortium-led StreetWise project had already been awarded. The investment is thought to be the largest single venture funding for any European driverless technology startup to date.
It had previously raised £2million in July 2016 from venture capital funds Hauser’s Amadeus Capital Partners, Spring Partners and Notion Capital to fund a bigger team for the development of the technology as well as simulation and road testing of the software.
It’s hoped that the company will develop to the top level of autonomous operation, Level 5, similar to the Google cars currently being testing in California.
Ultrahaptics – $23m (£18m)
Ultrahaptics was founded by University of Bristol PhD student Tom Carter, incubated by world-leading university incubator SETsquared, and quickly rose to fame when investors saw the huge potential and excitement around its unique haptic feedback technology. In case those words mean nothing to you, its tech lets you feel and interact with things in mid-air which aren’t really there (check it out in the video below).
Raising the GBP equivalent of 18million in May 2017, the company has now brought its investment raise total to $40m. Now, with an office in Silicon Valley as well as a large central Bristol office with more than ten-fold the number of staff and developers it had last year, Ultrahaptics plans to go global.
Xmos – $15m (£11.5m)
Xmos is a Bristol-based microprocessor and microcontroller designer, and a leader in voice capture solutions for the consumer electronics market (think, Amazon Alexa). In September 2017 they raised $15m (£11.5m) in Series E funding (making the total investment in Xmos since it was created an impressive total of £67m).
The round was led by Infineon Technologies with additional funding from existing investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. Mark Lippett, President and CEO at XMOS, commented on the raise: “XMOS is ideally positioned at the crossover between embedded voice processing, biometrics and artificial intelligence, and the funds will enable us to execute our ambitious product development plans.”
Blu Wireless Technology – £10m
Earlier this year Blu Wireless Technology sealed a £10million deal with ARM – a world leader in microprocessing technology – to develop 5G chip designs chip for high-speed modems that run up to 10Gbit/s.
Working together strategically means that Blue Wireless’ modem will combine with ARM processors for small mobile phone base stations that include processing and storage to provide faster browsing.
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Reach Robotics – $7.5m (£5.8m)
In July 2017 Reach Robotics closed a $7.5m series-A investment round to further develop MekaMon – a multi-functional, connected battlebot with augmented reality capabilities.The money will be used to expand its Bristol team and focus more on marketing and awareness of the brand which is hoped to gain global reach.
The money will be used to expand its Bristol team and focus more on marketing and awareness of the brand which is hoped to gain global reach.
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UltraSoc – £5m
Bristol SETsquared university incubator alumni UltraSoc is transforming the way companies develop and deliver next-generation electronic devices and systems by developing the technology to embed complex system-on-chip designs to monitor performance and find any problems.
In June 2017 the company raised £5m of fresh investment to drive continued deployment of its technology and realise its vision of embedding intelligent analytics capabilities into every chip.
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Zeetta Networks – $4m (£3.2m)
Bristol-based startup Zeetta Networks has developed a unique software approach to network solutions called NetOS, which received $2million in venture capital investment back in December 2015 and a further $2million in August 2017 – bringing its total investment in the past 18 months to an impressive $4million.
The software network solution simplifies and dramatically increases the performance of ICT networks and has found itself optimising projects from Ashton Gate Stadium’s pursuit to go high-tech to the University of Bristol’s quest for 5G.
Industrial Phycology Ltd – £2.2m
The funds will allow them to grow its team and continue to develop its incredible biotechnology that uses microalgae on a mass scale to recycle wastewater, converting it into green energy and livestock feed.
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Living Map – £1.2m
Bath-based Living Map is unlocking the potential of our spaces and cities. They won the UK Big Pitch, an Engie investment pitching competition, back in May 2016 and went on to receive £1.2million worth of investment.
Living Map’s clever and eye-catching smart maps have caught the imagination of some impressive clients, with its team building GPS maps for Heathrow Airport, the Met Museum in New York, as well as the maps for the Legible Bristol and Legible London projects.
Inductosense – £1.1m
A spin out from research carried out at the University of Bristol, Inductosense were awarded £1.1 million in August 2017 to develop its unique ultrasonic sensor technology, designed to detect microscopic corrosion and defects.
The technology is novel due to its compact size and wireless capabilities with the sensors using technology known as the WAND – Wireless and Non-Destructive system.
The startup’s first official product, a system for measuring internal corrosion on pipework has already been released with current plans in place to develop the technology to assist within the oil, gas and nuclear sectors in which they are currently trialling.
Bath SETsquared member Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) has embarked on the challenge to create the world’s first multi-functioning antenna with help from £1million worth of investment funding from the University of Birmingham.
Currently, a typical device will have six separate antennas – GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, 3G, 4G – so a multi-functioning antenna will mean greater efficiency (think better battery life!). It also eliminates the fear that new antennas will not be able to operate in harmony as we progress into using more advanced technologies such as 5G.
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Cloudfind – £830k
Bath-based software startup Cloudfind impressed angel investors with its automatic tagging software for businesses who use cloud storage.
The company received £830k worth of investment in 2016 to develop its innovative tagging system to radically simplify how teams access information stored in the cloud.
BookingLive – £500k
Earlier this year online booking and scheduling software provider BookingLive raised £500,000 pounds from venture capital firm The Summit Group, and non-profit investors Creative England to show off what they can do to others.
Having already won over clients like the BBC, the NHS and BMW, BookingLive’s founder and CEO Vinnie Morgan is now looking to develop a freemium version of his product that would be accessible to any organisation of any size: from SMEs to local voluntary organisations.
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DoodleMaths – £350k
DoodleMaths has been steaming ahead with its clever app that helps children with their understanding of maths and numeracy.
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Autonome – £350k
High-tech disabled support provider, Autonome, uses technology to help people with learning disabilities live independent lives. By scanning unique QR codes around their house user can access videos via their phones or tablets that show them tasks such as making a cup of coffee or using the tumble drier.
Supported by the Bristol Private Equity Club, Autonome provides over 70 videos covering various aspects of cooking, cleaning, safety and personal hygiene, accessible via any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet.
Impressed with our list of South West tech company investment raises but can think of more? Tell us! You can also stay up to date with local tech news, events and opportunities by signing up to the TechSPARK newsletter or following us on Twitter here: @TechSPARKuk.
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