Bristol AKA ‘The Silicon Gorge’ has a lot going for it. Latest figures show that the economy in the South West is worth a huge £127 billion, and this is in no small part due to the progressive and transformative startup businesses that Bristol is fast becoming famous for. Bristol startups have become synonymous with tech and digital success and are blazing a hugely significant trail through the entire Bristol tech scene.  

Here is our rundown on the Tech Titans that call BS1 home. Maybe one might be your next employer…

Who’s on this list…

BRISTOL STARTUPS: AI and ROBOTICS

Ultrahaptics:
Reach Robotics:
Five AI:
Open Bionics:

BRISTOL STARTUPS: TECH & SOFTWARE

Graphcore:
Zeetta Networks:
YellowDog:
BluWireless Technology:
Tallt Ventures:
Inductosense:

BRISTOL STARTUPS: ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

Mongoose Energy:
Industrial Phycology:

OTHER BRISTOL STARTUPS

Slide:
LUX Rewards:
Bookinglive:
Climb Online:

BRISTOL STARTUPS: THE SUPPORT

The Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator:
SETsquared:

BRISTOL STARTUPS: AI and ROBOTICS

Ultrahaptics:

Virtual touch technology allows the team at Ultrahaptics to create tactile sensations in mid air.  No wearables needed, this tech uses ultrasound to project shapes and textures directly onto the user’s hands.

I have tried this technology out myself and it is crazy!  

Ultrahaptics was founded in 2013 and since then have gone on to raise more than £30 million from two rounds of seed funding.  They may have started in Bristol, but have since extended their reach.

They can now boast offices in the notable tech destinations of South Korea and California.

Reach Robotics:

Combining robotics, reality-bending technology and competitive play, this Bristol startup is creating the future of gaming.

Their first product is MekaMon, an intelligent robotics gaming platform.

Most recently, these leaders in innovation have secured a $7.5 million Series A funding from leading investors Korea Investment Partners and IGlobe.

Although this team may be Bristol based, they certainly have global aspirations.  They are looking to explore the US, Asian and other European markets.

Five AI:

By developing AI and machine learning software for autonomous vehicles, Five AI is a Bristol startup who are literally driving the future!  

$35 million of private and UK government investment will not only allow Five AI to continue to develop their own software but will also fund a war on Uber et al.  

The aim..? To develop a fleet of self-driving taxis and other transportation services.

They are also situated with us in the fantastic Temple Studios.   Fantastic offices with fantastic neighbours!

Open Bionics:

Not only do they share some of the most inspiring social media content you will find on the web, Open Bionics are a multi-award winning robotics company.  They are using tech to create affordable, stylish and advanced 3D printed bionic arms.  

In the last 3 years, they have raised $3 million over 10 rounds of funding, including a £100k investment from the NHS. Other notable achievements include their success at The UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good, through which they were awarded a $1million prize.

Their first product will launch in Spring 2018, so we don’t have long to wait to see just how revolutionary these prosthetic limbs will be!

BRISTOL STARTUPS: TECH & SOFTWARE

Graphcore:

This is a Bristol startup who see a world in which technology enhances human potential. Originally spun out from voice and audio interface tech company XMOS, they have created an IPU that is the first to be designed for Machine Intelligence Workloads as well as a C++ Graph Programming Framework.  

2017 was a great year for Graphcore which saw them raise $80 million in new funding led by investment giants Sequoia Capital and Atomico.  

When asked what they planned to do with this investment, CEO Nigel Toon disclosed that the plan was to “speed up”, thus allowing them to “support more customers more quickly”.

Zeetta Networks:

This Bristol based startup has a vision which sees enterprise, cities and network operators scale up the capabilities of their networks through the use of their NetOS software.  

They have financial support from three key investors who share the vision and ethos of the company: IP Group, Bloc Ventures and Breed Reply.

Of late, Zeetta Networks’ NetOS technology has enjoyed significant acclaim. They have been nominated for Best Network Software Breakthrough GLOMO Award at the 2018 Mobile World Congress.

To put this huge achievement into some sort of context, the GLOMOs are widely thought of as the ‘Oscars of Tech’!

YellowDog:

YellowDog is a Bristol startup with big ambitions for computer power. YellowDog securely harnesses unused computer power. Primarily they work with visual effects and 3D animation clients, but more recently have secured funding allowing the team to explore the use of computer power within big batch processing across the financial services industry.  

YellowDog has been recognised as one of the top 15 Disruptor Businesses in the south-west and has recently closed its latest round of funding headed up by Bloc Ventures.

BluWireless Technology:

This Bristol startup is a pioneer of agile and intelligent 5G mmWave products, enabling their customers to stay ahead of the competition by providing reliable, high-speed wireless broadband solutions.

They were founded in 2009, and since then, have secured over £12 million in venture funding.  Proving they are going from strength to strength, most recently, they announced that they have won two pilot project bids from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.

Tallt Ventures:

Tallt Ventures are a data-driven innovation and intelligence company based here in Bristol.  They help insurance companies to remain relevant in the changing world through market scanning and new ventures strategies.  

Inductosense:  

Inductosense was formed in 2015, and are a spin-out from the Ultrasonics and Non-Destructive Testing Group at the University of Bristol.  

They launched with angel investment and a £489k grant from Innovate UK under the Aid for Startups scheme. In summer 2017, they also received an additional £1.1million investment for further business development.

They have developed innovative ultrasonic sensing technology for the non-destructive testing of structures for corrosion and erosion.

Their dual approach WAND system can be used across a range of industries, including renewable & nuclear energies, reducing inspection time, cost and downtime.

BRISTOL STARTUPS: ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

Mongoose Energy:

Mongoose Energy was created by Bath & West Community Energy and are champions of low carbon electricity generation.  They help communities gain control and ownership over the energy they generate and use.

Indeed, in August last year, they secured a deal to finance the UK’s biggest community energy project, a ‘solar plus battery’ farm in Warwickshire.  

They themselves have also launched Mongoose Crowd, a new crowdfunding platform which has already succeeded in raising more than £1 million for UK based green energy projects.

Industrial Phycology:

This Bristol based startup is committed to chemical free and sustainable wastewater treatments.  They have partnered up with Wessex Water and GENeco Sustainable Solutions in order to realise their vision.  

They are currently constructing the largest algae wastewater treatment facility in the UK. Since their 2014 inception, funding and acclaim have been levelled their way.  They have received both private investment and government funding from the EU.

OTHER BRISTOL STARTUPS

Slide:

Slide Bristol is a shared ride to work service and is available at the tap of an app for Bristol commuters.  Slide launched in Bristol in July 2016, and since then has gone from strength to strength. It is the collaborative brainchild of RATP Dev and French startup Padam who specialise in transport services and technical support respectively.

LUX Rewards:

This app based, dining rewards system was created here in Bristol.  It aims to connect fine diners with esteemed restaurants, both of whom are overlooked by other discount card schemes.  

LUX have handpicked their partner restaurants very carefully…as the name suggests, users can be assured of the quality and standard of their experience before they book.   

After collecting up to 7.5% of the bill amount in points, diners can then use them to redeem luxury rewards across many areas. Over the last 2 years, this Bristol startup has raised over £82k of Crowdcube Funding from a total of 138 investors.

Bookinglive:

BookingLive offer an online booking management service for organisations across a range of industries.  Their clients include schools, universities and organisations across both the private and public sectors.

In May last year, they received £500k venture funding investment through The Summit Group and Creative England.  

Climb Online:

This Digital Media Agency is a startup which has recognised the promise of Bristol.  In late 2016, founder Mark Wright and his team expanded their reach by opening an office here in the South West.  

This move is their third UK location…the others being in the digital hotspots of London and Manchester. Finance for this startup venture has come from none other than the King of Startups himself – Lord Sugar!  Mark Wright won the BBC reality show, “The Apprentice” in 2014.

BRISTOL STARTUPS: THE SECRET OF SUCCESS

One of the most charming of Bristol’s features is its community vibe.  Indeed, it’s melting pot of cultural influences has seen the city rocket to the top of many notable “Best Of….” lists.  This mantra of collaboration and inclusivity is also highly visible within Bristol’s tech and digital startup scene.

Bristol startups are in a unique position and are offered significant support from a number of organisations.

Here is our rundown of how Bristol startups are equipped to succeed.

BRISTOL STARTUPS: THE ENTERPRISE ZONE

Home to many of the big name Bristol startups is Bristol’s Temple Quarter, locally known as The Enterprise Zone.  Since 2012, more than 3,000 people have come to work in the ‘zone’ which is engineered for tech and digital success.  

Super fast broadband and its proximity to Temple Meads Train Station mean that its 360 connectivity is second to none. Bristol’s rail links were further improved in 2017, and this move has secured its status as a truly 21st-century facility.  

It has ensured better social integration with surrounding areas and beyond. Journey times to London can be as little as 80 minutes. Bristol is now an attractive prospect (and realistic commute) for digital talent who have not yet made the leap from capital living.

Furthermore, a mission statement published by mayor Marvin Rees in 2016, promised to secure 17,000 jobs within the Enterprise Zone throughout the lifespan of the scheme.  

The project is due to conclude in 2037 and will continue to concentrate its energies on attracting innovative business from the tech, creative and digital, low carbon and professional services sectors.

BRISTOL STARTUPS: THE SUPPORT

The Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator:

The Bristol accelerator programme supports Bristol startups through its partnerships with the Engine Shed, SETsquared and the University of Bristol.  

The Oracle program recognises that startups need agility, resource and speed in order to fulfil their potential. They offer that in spades!

Accepted startups will benefit from world-class advice and mentoring, state of the art tech, co-working space along with access to other Oracle partners and investors.

SETsquared:

SETsquared is a startup incubator affiliated with The University of Bristol.  It provides supportive, modern and dynamic business space based at the heart of Bristol’s progressive digital quarter within The Engine Shed.  

This is a unique environment which has played a considerable role in raising the profile of Bristol’s tech and digital scene. The Engine Shed is currently home to 65 of Bristol’s biggest and best tech businesses, but to date has housed more than 180.

Local Government:

Fledgeling organisations with an Enterprise Zone address are supported by local government.  They enjoy schemes such as business rate relief, which offer startups reduced or zero rates.

Buoyancy aids such as these have been a lifeline to many startup businesses, and have given them the freedom to realise their aspirations.

BRISTOL STARTUPS: PEOPLE POWER

Bristol is home to both The University of Bristol and The University of the West of England.  These two institutions nurture and educate a wealth of tech and digital talent who will go on to found, and work at, industry startups.  

In evidence of this, the University of Bristol graduates more than 5000 computer science graduates each year…not to mention that some of our featured companies were born and developed within these red brick walls!

These ambitious, young professionals have had access to first-class teaching and tech. They are brimming with both the ideas and the skills to disrupt the space.  

In sum, Bristol is a mine of tech and digital prowess.  It is a great destination if tech and digital is your passion. Our list of notable success stories are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know that we’ll need to regularly update it if we want to keep up!!

We are specialist recruiters within the tech and digital space and have perfectly positioned ourselves in the midst of these startup pioneers.  

 

Tony Parish, Co-Founder and Director of Technology at Ignite Digital Talent

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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