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Meet Scotland’s Coolest Tech for Good Startups

Ross Kelly

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Tech for Good

From vertical farming to medtech and ethical advertising, Scotland boasts some tremendous tech for good startups.

As consumers become increasingly socially-conscious, ‘tech for good’ is now one of the most prescient topics in the global technology sector.

For many consumers, businesses are expected to do more than just deliver services or products, they’re expected to deliver positive outcomes for society and the planet, and many consumers are more supportive of brands with which they share common values.

Technology is being used to tackle some of the planet’s toughest challenges, including climate change, poverty and hunger – and it’s big business. According to Tech Nation, ‘tech for social good’ companies were worth £2.3 billion in 2018 and boasted a total turnover of £732 million.

But in this global movement where does the Scottish tech scene stand?

Scotland is home to a variety of tech for good startups, with many working to tackle issues such as financial inclusion, education, mental health and sustainable, data-driven farming.

With a burgeoning startup ecosystem, world-class universities and a global reputation as a great place to do business, now, perhaps more than ever, Scotland finds itself with an opportunity to champion these trailblazing firms.

DIGIT has listed some of the country’s coolest tech for good startups – in no particular order – that you should definitely keep an eye on.

Good-Loop

Based in Edinburgh, Good-Loop’s ethical ad platform converts advertisement revenue into free charity donations – helping to reward people who choose to watch ads by donating half of the money it costs.

Founded in 2016, the startup has worked with a range of global brands, including Unilever, Coca-Cola and clothing retailer, H&M. Using the Good-Loop platform brands can expect a 45% uplift in ad recall, meaning they get more bang for their buck when it comes to ad spend.

The startup has raised eyebrows since its launch just three and a half years ago. In January this year, it raised £1.2 million in funding and previously scooped up an award at NBCUniversal’s annual startup innovation event in 2018.

Good-Loop also recently announced that, to date, it has donated £1 million to charities via its platform.

Pawprint

Eco startup Pawprint is, quite possibly, one of the most exciting tech for good companies operating in Scotland right now.

Founded by Christian Arno, the founder of translation tech startup Lingo24, the Pawprint app is described as a “behavioural change platform for the eco-conscious”.

Through the platform, consumers can monitor and reduce their carbon footprint while comparing their own personal ‘pawprints’ with friends or family. As users reduce their carbon footprint, they are offered rewards and can compete with friends or colleagues to enhance their positive environmental impact.

2020 has been a whirlwind year so far for Pawprint. In February, the startup secured £580,000 in funding. Additionally, in April this year, the firm smashed its £100k crowdfunding target in just six hours.

Pawprint is backed by prominent Scottish entrepreneurs, such as Oli Norman of Itison and Dietchef’s Kevin Dorren, and boasts investors who have previously supported global tech giants including Tesla and Amazon.

Talking Medicines

Talking Medicines is best-known for its Medsmart App, which helps patients manage their medication easily at home.

Founded in 2013 by Jo Halliday, Scott Crae and Elizabeth Fairley, the Glasgow-based firm’s Medsmart app links barcodes on more than 25,000 UK prescription drugs to information about the medicine and how to take it – greatly reducing the hassle for patients and improving safety of use.

In May 2019, the startup secured its first investment package as part of a funding round worth £622,000. Most recently, Talking Medicines was named as one of Tech Nation’s ‘Rising Stars’.

The scaleup competition, led by Tech Nation, recognises and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs.

DIGIT spoke Talking Medicines co-founder, Elizabeth Fairley, at Data Protection 2019 to discuss how the company processes sensitive medical data.

Find out more here.

Intelligent Growth Solutions

Founded in 2013, Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) develops Industry 4.0 solutions for the global agritech industry and commercial lighting markets.

The firm, which secured £5.4 million in funding last year, provides AI-powered, IoT-enabled environmental control systems for vertical farming.

IGS’ technology can reduce energy usage in vertical farming operations by up to 50% and massively cut labour costs. Additionally, IGS says it can greatly enhance productivity and boost crop yields.

With offices in both the UK and the United States, IGS has aspirations to be a global leader in the vertical farming and agritech fields, and currently provides solutions to several food producers and governments globally.

Intelligent Growth Solutions CEO, David Farquhar, is speaking at the Intelligent Automation Virtual Summit on 27th August.

Find out more here.

MoneyMatix

MoneyMatix is on a mission to improve financial wellness and security for families across the UK.

The Edinburgh-based startup, founded by Tynah Matembe and Helene Rodger, provides financial planning tools for families as well as money advice and education for young people.

MoneyMatix provides a range of services, including Money Health Check, Financial Savings and Budget Finance tools.

The startup co-founders launched the firm following their experiences tackling financial illiteracy. Thousands of families across the UK experience financial difficulties each year, and up to 40% of the UK population experiences financial stress, which can have a huge negative impact on mental health.

Sustainably

Edinburgh-based fintech startup, Sustainably, launched in 2019 with the aim of giving a little back to charities.

Founded by mother-daughter entrepreneur duo, Loral and Eishel Quinn, the Sustainably platform allows users to donate spare change to charitable causes. Every time the user pays for something via debit card or contactless, the app rounds up any leftover change and automatically donates it to charity.

Users can highlight or choose specific charities they wish to donate to through the app, and to date, thousands of users have helped support some of the UK’s most well-known charitable causes.

Sustainably was named as a Top 10 Virgin Startup, is a former winner of the WeWork Creator Awards and boasts friends in high places, including Sir Richard Branson, who supported the firm during its infancy.

Trickle

Edinburgh data insights startup, Trickle, is helping firms ride a wave of positive employee wellbeing.

Launched in 2018 by Scottish entrepreneur Paul Reid, Trickle’s HR software lets businesses better engage with their employees.

The platform, which is used by a host of organisations including the Scottish Government and Scottish Power, lets employees provide feedback to management and HR staff.

Essentially, the app ensures that staff are listened to and remain happy in their jobs, what’s not to like?

Last year, Trickle received £1 million in seed funding from a consortium of angel investors and, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, offered invaluable free business support to beleaguered firms.

Robotical

If the Scottish technology sector is to continue expanding in the future, it’s going to need the best in top tech talent, and that will require encouraging young people to study STEM subjects.

Edinburgh-based edtech startup, Robotical, hopes to engage and inspire kids to take an interest in coding, robotics and all things STEM through its flagship product, Marty the Robot.

Marty is a fully-programmable, WiFi-enabled robot that helps teach kids and young people about coding. Marty can be programmed to perform a series of actions, such as walking, posing, turning, dancing and even kicking a ball.

The robot has proven highly-popular among schoolchildren both in Scotland and further afield and has been shipped to more than 50 countries worldwide.

Robotical also works closely with schools and community groups to showcase Marty and get kids engaged in STEM subjects.

Space Intelligence

Global deforestation is a major factor in the ongoing climate crisis, and Space Intelligence hopes to tackle the issue throughout monitoring and tracking

Edinburgh-based company Space Intelligence hopes to tackle the issue by monitoring and tracking deforestation around the world. The firm uses satellite data and artificial intelligence to provide an automated mapping of deforestation and forest degradation and has experience working on projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Earlier this year, the company was chosen as a prize-winner for Nesta’s AI for Good campaign. Following this, the firm is using artificial intelligence to disseminate vast quantities of satellite data to create detailed landcover maps for the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Ed Mitchard, Chief Scientific Advisor at Space Intelligence, is set to appear at DIGIT’s Intelligent Automation Virtual Summit on 27th August.

Click here to find out more.

Topolytics

Monitoring and tracking global waste is a monumental challenge, and Topolytics is trying to make sense of it all.

The Edinburgh-based firm, founded in 2013 by Dr Michael Groves, specialises in waste monitoring and, through its machine learning-enabled WasteMap platform, is helping to tackle the issue.

Topolytics’ WasteMap platform is used by several organisations in Europe, Asia and North America, and is helping to improve the visibility and transparency of waste materials, particularly in business.

In May 2019, Topolytics was crowned champion of the Google Cloud and SAP Circular Economy 2030 competition, fending off competitors from across the globe. The firm also secured a £500,000 contract from DEFRA to build the UK’s first digital waste tracking system.

The tracking platform monitors and analyses all waste transactions across the UK each year, and enables environmental regulators to generate an up-to-date view of waste movements, enable better oversight and drive improvements in the waste system.

Neatebox

Mention tech for good in Scotland and it’s more than likely that Neatebox will come up.

Founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Gavin Neate, himself a former guide dog trainer, Neatebox is a socially-conscious tech firm that aims to improve accessibility and visibility for people living with disabilities.

Neatebox’s Welcome app, which is used at a host of venues across the country, including the Scottish Parliament, improves customer experiences when visiting retail and hospitality venues.

Users can inform a venue or location that they intend to visit and provide details on their specific care requirements, as well as their time of arrival. From here, staff can cater to the user’s needs and ensure they have an enjoyable, memorable experience without any hassle.

Alongside Glasgow startup Talking Medicines, Neatebox was chosen as one of 10 winners at Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition earlier this year.

Frog Systems

Discussions on mental health and wellbeing cannot be ignored, and amid a challenging period, many organisations are aiming to tackle the issue.

The Glasgow-based digital company, Frog Systems, aims to tackle mental health and social care issues and encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.

The company’s Frog platform provides access to information needed by local communities to connect and bring people together; from car boot sales and concerts to support groups and community clean-up initiatives.  

A key feature of Frog is the Champions Cinema, an online channel where users can share their stories and personal experiences in short 60 second videos. These videos and inspirational messages appeal to a wide range of people struggling with issues such as depression, addiction or eating disorders.

Music legends Nile Rodgers and Midge Ure, as well as actor and comedian Sanjeev Kohli, produced their own videos for the launch of Frog in 2019.

Edinburgh Lockdown Economy

Since lockdown measures were introduced throughout the UK, thousands of businesses, both big and small, have struggled.

For small local businesses in Scotland’s capital, the Edinburgh Lockdown Economy website has been a critical lifeline.

Launched in March this year by Tom Harries, founder of tech startup Vocal, Edinburgh Lockdown Economy allowed residents to search for things to do during the lockdown, such as online fitness classes and live-streamed pub quizzes.

The free-to-list directory saw a massive surge in popularity during the early days of lockdown and has since grown significantly to feature more than 800 businesses.

A wide variety of businesses are featured on the platform, from boutique houseplant shop, Grow Urban, to craft brewers such as Pilot or Brewgooder.

In June, Edinburgh Lockdown Economy unveiled its ‘Edinburgh Experiences’ feature, which allows shop owners to host live virtual tours of their products and venues.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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