Edinburgh-based Neatebox and Glasgow’s Talking Medicines have been selected as two of the 10 winners of Rising Stars, an early-stage scaleup competition run by Tech Nation, the UK network for tech entrepreneurs.
The winners were revealed at the Rising Stars Grand Final in London last night (11th of February 2020), which was the culmination of a nationwide search that saw the 33 regional winners selected in November, followed by the Semi-Final in Manchester in January 2020, where a panel of judges whittled the finalists down to 20 companies.
At the Grand Final, the winners had to pitch to a panel of judges, and in front of an audience of more than 200 of the top venture capitalists, founders and corporates in the UK. The judging panel included techUK President, Jacqueline de Rojas, PrettyLittleThing co-founder Adam Kamani, and MD of Microsoft for Startups UK Amali de Alwis.
In its second year, the competition received almost 400 applications in total, a 39% rise from 2018 and attracted a diverse group of founders – 30% of the original applicants have at least one female founder, and 90% of companies who entered the final are from outside of London. Applicants were required to be at Seed to pre-Series A funding or generating annual revenues up to £1.5 million.
Neatebox, founded in 2011 by Gavin Neate, aims to tackle personal loneliness and communication. The Neatebox ‘Welcome’ platform attempts to remove barriers and promotes empathetic relationships between consumers and customer service teams, encouraging real societal change and heralding a new age of understanding and communication.
Talking Medicines was created in 2013 by Jo Halliday, Scott Crae and Elizabeth Fairley. It captures the digital voice of the patient, aggregating it into patterns of behaviours and commercialising it to brand managers in pharmaceutical companies through subscription access. The company says it puts patient centricity at the core of what it does, aiming to improve outcomes of medicines.
Gavin Neate, CEO & Founder, Neatebox, commented: “Neatebox winning TechNations Rising Stars underlines the changing face of society and its willingness to look at the growing need for high growth companies addressing societies greatest challenges. As our company grows we will most certainly see this win as a milestone in our journey and look forward to increased interest in our company and its solutions.”
Jo Halliday, CEO, Talking Medicines, commented: “We are totally delighted to have won this prize, thank you to Tech Nation & well done to our hard working team. Having the opportunity to tell our story at this event is a huge opportunity as we enter our new funding round. We look forward to the rest of 2020.”
Digital Minister Matt Warman said: “It’s great to see such a diverse group of entrepreneurs from all over the UK involved in this competition and I’m excited to find out what’s next for these world-leading tech firms of tomorrow.”
“This government is committed to making sure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. We’ve worked hard to develop a business friendly environment, a reputation for innovation and the ability to attract the best talent from across the globe.”
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Mike Jackson, entrepreneur success director, Tech Nation, said: “The Rising Stars are great examples of the strength of the UK tech ecosystem. The winners highlight that innovation, determination and ambition in this fast growing sector can be found right across the UK.”
Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK, commented: “As we face explosive shifts in technology, platforms and fast moving markets, we must look outwards not inwards towards those who embrace the dynamic shifts in the way we embrace our digital future. What we have seen today changes the definition of what flexibility and being quick to change means.
The competition’s prize package has been built in response to the challenges that are faced by companies at this stage of growth – for example, access to networks and platforms for promotion. The prize package and the competition itself aims to raise the profile of the winners nationally and internationally. It includes one-to-one support, introductions to potential partners and investors and support from the programme partners, BDO Drive, Microsoft Advertising, Soldo, Talent Works International and TLT LLP.
The full prize package includes:
• Business plan diagnostic, delivered by accounting and business advisory firm, BDO
• Pitch training and coaching by Sunderland Software City
• Opportunity to pitch your business in front of over 200 investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders
• Induction into the Rising Stars alumni network
• Speaking opportunities, thought leadership and press through the Tech Nation network
• Complimentary TLT Legalsifter subscription with onboarding
• Microsoft Advertising coupon worth £200 and Azure credits of $1,500
• Complimentary annual subscription to Soldo and Xero
• Recruitment process analysis, reporting and recommendations by Talent Works International
The other eight winners are Shopper.com, Foundries.io, We Build Bots, CoGrammar, ClearGlass, tootoot, Sparkbox and Codices Interactive.
Previous Rising Stars winners include Tickr from Liverpool who went on to raise £1 million through the Seedrs platform, SeedLegals who went on to raise Series A funding of over £3 million led by SeedCamp and Kima Ventures, and Tended who raised £1.4 million from Blackfinch Ventures and Minerva Angel Business Network. Other companies that took part in Rising Stars 1.0 have gone on to join Tech Nation growth programmes, including Kani and Heliocor who joined Fintech 2.0, and People Matter Technology who joined Tech Nation’s first Applied AI programme.