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8 of Glasgow’s Coolest Technology Startups

Ross Kelly

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Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus

‘People make Glasgow’, as saying goes, but in 2019 it’s the city’s blossoming technology sector that’s earning it a reputation as one of the best places in the UK to start a business.

While Edinburgh may often steal the limelight when tech startups are brought up in conversation, a host of companies operating across a range of sectors, spanning fintech, data analytics and medtech, are all playing a crucial role in Glasgow’s ongoing surge.

In fact, according to CBRE’s 2019 Tech Cities report, which ranks the top UK locations for tech businesses, Glasgow was ranked as the second most desirable location in which to start up or run a business outside of London; surpassing its great east coast rival, Edinburgh.

Glasgow’s infrastructure, academic institutions, and a strong creative arts legacy were all highlighted as positive factors in CBRE’s report.

Historically, Glasgow was an industrial powerhouse; churning out ships, materials and textiles on an unprecedented scale. While the golden age of manufacturing in Glasgow may have passed, today it forges a new path in science and technology and looks to compete with Edinburgh as the nation’s premier startup hub.

DIGIT has compiled a list of some of the city’s most exciting technology startups to look out for.

Bird.i

Founded in 2016 by Corentin Guillo, Bird.i provides real-time imaging and data obtained via satellites to curate detailed images for on-the-ground organisations including construction firms and infrastructure companies.

The company saw its beginnings while Guillo worked in the space sector; spotting a valuable opportunity to open up observation imagery – generally restricted to governments and defence & security sectors – to broader markets.

Bird.i’s aim is to improve the availability and accessibility of satellite imaging data and works alongside multiple satellite imagery providers to compile data into one platform. The firm also utilises artificial intelligence as part of its Intelligence Service.

Guillo and Bird.i moved to Scotland in 2016 following the company’s first investment round ($650,000). In the years since, the firm has grown to employ more than 20 employees and secured $3 million during a funding round in 2017.


Curious Chip

Curious Chip is a startup that makes hardware and software for kids, adults and educators. The company is best-known for its Pip product – a handheld computer device designed to engage children with coding and electronics.

The company was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur duo Sukhvir Dhillon and Jason Frame. Powered by Raspberry Pi, Pip is aimed at children aged eight and upwards and helps youngsters learn basic coding in a fun, experimental fashion.

In June 2018, Curious Chip was awarded £50,000 from Scottish Edge to continue to develop its product. The firm also raised more than £40,000 in 2017 from a Kickstarter campaign.


Estendio (Present Pal)

Founded in 2014 by Strathclyde University student Chris Hughes, Estendio is best-known for its flagship product, Present Pal; a presentation support software that helps users with dyslexia and other learning differences deliver presentations in a more confident manner.

The app guides users through their presentation with a series of interactive flashboards on their smartphone or tablet and is fully integrated with Microsoft PowerPoint.

Since the launch of the Present Pal app in 2018, Estendio has gone on to secure £50,000 Scottish Edge funding and December last year was awarded an AI Accessibility grant from Microsoft – becoming one of the first companies to benefit from the $25 million, five-year programme.

Present Pal is also used to support students at more than 60 universities throughout the UK through the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) programme.


MindMate

Co-founded by three graduates from Glasgow universities – Susanne Mitschke, Roger Arellano and Patrick Renner – MindMate is a digital platform that helps people living with Alzheimers and dementia.

The app provides a host of activities, games and workout regimes, as well as recipes, to help keep users active. Users can also access news and information about the latest treatments and techniques available to help combat conditions.

Founded in 2015, the idea for the company originated when Arellano sought ways to help his grandfather following his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Since its launch, MindMate has grown significantly and, in March 2018, secured $2 million in funding.

More than half a million people with Alzheimer’s dementia or brain injuries currently use MindMate.


Soar

Soar was formed in 2017 by Scottish entrepreneur Andrew Duncan, who was leading the company’s sister firm, SwarmOnline.

The company develops cloud-based, integrated banking platforms aimed at credit unions and not-for-profit banking organisations – which allow ethical banks to analyse and manage data more effectively and securely. In December last year, Soar announced a major partnership with Glasgow Credit Union to launch its mobile and online banking services.

The firm says its apps are designed to “enable those in the ethical finance sector to better meet the demands of their communities”.

Since its launch, the team at Soar has grown rapidly and recently secured a £450,000 Research and Development grant from Scottish Enterprise.


Swipii

The Swipii loyalty app, co-founded by Chitresh Sharma and Louis Schena, rewards Scottish shoppers and provides customers with a range of free perks and offers on everyday purchases.

Users of the app can do away with physical loyalty cards by linking their credit or debit card to their Swipii account and gain rewards as they shop with partner businesses.

Swipii began in 2014 as a university side project and has since grown to work alongside thousands of local businesses – assisting in loyalty programmes across the UK. More than one million consumers across the country use Swipii to discover and take advantage of new businesses and offers.

In 2018, the startup secured £1.9 million in funding as part of an investment round led by Scottish venture capital firm, Par Equity.


Talking Medicines

Founded in 2013 by Jo Halliday, Scott Crae and Elizabeth Fairley, Talking Medicines has developed the Medsmart App, which helps patients better manage their medicines at home.

Aimed at ensuring medicines are taken at the right time and in the right way, Medsmart helps simplify complex information surrounding the use of medicines for users. The app disrupts the way in which pharmaceutical companies access real-world data and allows them to see how their medicines are used around the globe.

In May 2019, the startup secured its first institutional investment as part of a funding round worth £622,000.


Time2Dine

Co-founded by Florin and Carolyn Mandache in 2015, Time2dine is a point of sale system with an integrated booking platform to help customers book a table, pre-order and pre-pay food.

Through PoS management tools, Time2dine aims to help improve table turnarounds for restaurants and, in turn, increase profits, as well as improve no-show problems with diners. The platform is aimed primarily at families, pre-event diners and restaurants looking to modernise and reach new customers.

The company was founded based on the personal experiences of the co-founders, who found that dining out as a family with their four children could become stressful with a lot of waiting involved. While Time2dine maintains a small team currently, the company has plans to expand both its team and presence across the UK in the future.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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