April 2016

Level39: “one of world’s most internationally diverse tech hubs”

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Data released by Canary Wharf’s accelerator programme Level39 reveals the hub has become one of “the most internationally diverse tech hubs in the world”.

Home to 213 companies, with 71 based outside the UK, Level39 celebrates its third birthday this year. The accelerator is home to fast-growing companies spanning a diverse range of sectors, including fintech, security, bigdata, and retail.  TransferGo and GrowthIntel are just two of the accelerator’s alumni, with current members including WordRemit, Aim Brain, and Behavox.

“Funding for fintech is booming and global investors are pouring in funds”, finds Level39 in its report. “VC firms spent less than $1bn in Q2 2010 compared to nearly $3bn in Q1 2015 on fintech”.

“Our little island nation attracted £312m of fintech investment in the first six months of 2015, compared to just £24m for the whole of 2010.”

Brexit bad for M&A activity

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Findings from The Intralinks Deal Flow Predictor suggest ‘the majority of UK dealmakers believe a so-called Brexit would have a negative impact for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity at home and in Europe’. Or so wrote William Turvill for CityAM this morning.

Published today, the report surveyed 1,500 global dealmakers – including 135 UK-based dealmakers within the last month. 77 percent of UK respondents believed Brexit would be detrimental for M&A activity in the UK and Europe.

“In the UK, dealmakers appear more reticent about starting deals” says Philip Whitchelo,

Intralinks’ vice president of strategy and product marketing. “Which is a likely result of the pending EU referendum. Over the next quarter, we expect UK early-stage M&A activity to simmer rather than boil until we know the result on the 23rd of June”.

Edinburgh spinout secures £1.54m investment

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Sofant Technologies Limited, Edinburgh University tech spinout, has secured £1.54m funding. The investment, drawn down from the €3bn Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme, will be used to bring Sofant’s mobile battery tech to market. The company’s product is designed to ‘double the life of mobile batteries’.

“We call this a smart antenna because it has been designed to seek out the strongest signal and focus on it, rather than the current model that constantly radiates energy in all directions” says Ahmed El-Rayis, Sofant COO.

“We have been researching and planning this project for 10 years to perfect the design”, he added. “This funding will enable us to take the product to foundry and we’re currently asking for tenders. We’re very excited about this new funding and see it as a real opportunity to impact on the future direction of the global smart phone industry and to create a market-leading company.”

Sofant, incorporated in 2011 after seven years of research, expects to rollout its product in 2018.

Head of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme Dr Bernd Reichert commented on the fundraising:

“We aim to support businesses with their innovation activities with the ultimate objective of the successful introduction of their products to the relevant market”.

University of Southampton on look out for “inspirational” tech startups

iStock_000039435680_SmallThe University of Southampton has announced the launch of its fifth UK business Catalyst, looking for young, innovative tech startups. The programme will provide six successful entrants with half a year of business mentoring, seminars, residency at the Catalyst Centre, a £1,000 cash injection, and access to a network of entrepreneurs.

“My team and I look forward to welcoming the next set of inspirational entrepreneurs to the Science Park later this year and I would encourage all those with a science or technology-led business idea to get involved”, says Peter Birkett, CEO of  the University of Southampton Science Park and founder of Catalyst.

Adam Kinf, a 2015 winner, enthused:

“I came into Catalyst with an idea that was just a few months old; I now have a solid value proposition, a great team and £400,000 worth of funding to push it to the next level. I’d encourage anyone thinking of taking the leap into entrepreneurship to apply to the Catalyst Programme today.”

Backed VC launches €30m fund for EU seed-stage startups

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Backed VC, the London-based investment firm, has announced the launch of a new European-focussed fund. The €30m fund will target seed-stage companies across fintech, fashion, music, and gaming.

“We see ourselves as talent scouts, backing obsessive founders extremely early and specialising in addressing the pains they face at seeds”, says co-founder Andre De Haes. A former capital investor at Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures, De Haes has also outlined intentions to operate a ‘community driven’ fund. As such, Backed VC will share profits will anyone who refers a company the fund goes on to back.

Backed VC has already made investments into the UK startup scene. Ai music composer Jukedeck, knitwear designer Unmade, freelancer platform Lystable, and Tech Will Save us – the electronic kits manufacturer for kids.

The fund has also reserved an additional €10m for investors who ‘provide expertise to its portfolio companies’.

Banks and startups to collaborate on future of payments

Muenster, Germany - April 9, 2011: A close up macro shot of a Mastercard credit card. Mastercard is one of the biggest credit card companies in the world.

Head of strategy, design and change at Royal Bank of Scotland, John Lyons believes ‘the future of

payments will be defined by the collaboration between banks and FinTech startups’.

“I think we are definitely at a point of inflexion” says Lyons, who runs the RBS’s innovation arm. “As the march of tech increases, the importance of tech leadership in payments is going to be much more significant”.

“I don’t think FinTech startups are going to win and big banks are going to lose, or vice versa” extrapolated Lyons. “I think what will happen after a bit of posturing is that we’ll realise that the ecosystem will thrive once you get collaboration between the banks and smaller firms”.

Lyons also suggested that the greatest payment experience is one where the process is made completely invisible. He hailed Uber as a disruptive tech company that doing this successfully.

Octopus Ventures raises further £100m for tech startups

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London-based Octopus Ventures has announced a further £100m raise, which will be used to invest in young, fast-growth European tech SMEs.

The additional funds top up an already sizeable pot, that now stands in excess of £400m.

“We have been fortunate”, says Alex Macpherson, head of Octopus Ventures, “to back some outstanding entrepreneurs over the years, many of who whom come back to us time and again with new venture, or who go on to introduce us to other exciting companies”.

“Adding a further £100 million to our early stage funds indicates the opportunity and belief we have in the developing European entrepreneurial ecosystem, and provides Octopus with the funds to continue to support these exceptional entrepreneurs. At Octopus”, Macpherson concluded, “we want to be there supporting them from the beginning of their business journey to the later stages of growth”.

Octopus Ventures-backed SMEs in 2016 include: Origami Energy, Elliptic, and Property Partner.

TechEast launches with 4 year plan

iStock_000076065345_SmallTechEast has launched today to combat problems facing the East of England’s tech scene. The organisation has devised a 6 point manifesto, and will work to win more government and investor funding, attract more tech talent, and educate the region’s nascent tech community. A four year plan outlines ambitions to create 5,000 tech jobs in the East of England by 2020.

“Today’s event unites almost 100 business and political leaders from the East to make the TechEast six point manifesto a reality”, says Neil Miles, chair of TechEast.

“Our mission is to help attract investment and provide support for those looking to start, grow or locate their digital tech business in the East. We will combine ideas and resources across the region to amplify the East as a place where digital tech businesses thrive”.

“For the last six months, tech businesses and supporting organisations across the East region have been working together to investigate the opportunities created by capitalising on the region’s existing success.  Our ambition is to be recognised as one of the Top 5 tech clusters in the UK,”  Miles avowed.

Crowdfinders launches £100m fund for UK scale-ups

Bar graph risingWorking in collaboration with UKBAA, Seedrs, SyndicateRoom and Crowdcube, SME ‘investment event specialist’ Crowdfinders has announced the launch of Race to Scale – a £100m funding drive aimed at UK startups looking to scale.

The Race to Scale programme will allocate the £100m funding pot during 2016, in sums ranging from £100k – £5m, to promising scaling businesses.

“The scale-up phase is notoriously difficult to get right, but with greater access to funds and targeted mentorship, we could witness more business success stories – something I’m keen to see happen across the UK”, says Luke Davis, chairman and co-founder of Crowdfinders.

Crowdfinders will host a series of pitching sessions throughout the year, where applicants can showcase their business to a panel of angel investors. The first of these is due to take place later this month, at the Royal Institution in Mayfair, London. 

£4m accelerator fund to boost EU startups


London marketing company Tradedoubler has launched TD Ventures. A business accelerator programme, TD Ventures will provide European SMEs with capital, mentoring, and access to its international network.

The £4m fund will make equity investments into digital businesses in the UK, France, and Germany. Up to £400k will be available per startup. The accelerator is open to seed- and venture-stage tech companies operating within the online marketing sector, and are able to prove their product projects ‘a vision for innovation’.

“By establishing TD Ventures, we are continuing to build on our heritage of technology innovation, working with young businesses to accelerate growth and shape the future of our sector with this unique programme”, says Matthias Stadelmeyer, Tradedoubler CEO.

SMEs can apply via the Tradedoubler website, with a brief outline of their company and a 200 word  submission detailing why they deserve a place on the accelerator programme.