Spotlight on: 13 top tech investment raises in Bristol and Bath

Updated: There's no limit for South West tech companies when it comes to investment, here are some of the most impressive from the past few years
14th August 2017

With TechCity’s UK digital tech sector report fresh out of the press, Bristol and Bath are revelling in the success of its tech cluster, boasting an impressive £109 million of investment raised by its tech businesses and startups in 2016/17.

To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of some of the most impressive investment raises by individual technology companies in the region.

Graphcore – $60m (£48m)

Bristol-based startup Graphcore fast tracked its way to an impressive raise of $30million from worldwide venture capitalists late last year, as well as an additional $30m in July 2017, bringing its first-round investment up to a colossal $60m, in order to develop its machine learning and artificial intelligence chip and system development technology.

The company has emphasised keeping investors relevant to its goals. So, with plans to have its chips powering the edge of the internet in consumer devices and driverless cars, having investors that specialise in this field such as Samsung, Bosch, Uber and Google’s Deepmind has formed part of its key to future success.

Ultrahaptics – $23m (£18m)

Ultrahaptics was founded by University of Bristol PhD student Tom Carter, incubated by world-leading university incubator SETsquared, and quickly rose to fame when investors saw the huge potential and excitement around its unique haptic feedback technology. In case those words mean nothing to you, its tech lets you feel and interact with things in mid-air which aren’t really there (check it out in the video below).

Raising the GBP equivalent of 18million in May 2017, the company has now brought its investment raise total to $40m. Now, with an office in Silicon Valley as well as a large central Bristol office with more than ten-fold the number of staff and developers it had last year, Ultrahaptics plans to go global.

Blu Wireless Technology – £10m

Earlier this year Blu Wireless Technology sealed a £10million deal with ARM – a world leader in microprocessing technology – to develop 5G chip designs chip for high-speed modems that run up to 10Gbit/s.

Working together strategically means that Blue Wireless’ modem will combine with ARM processors for small mobile phone base stations that include processing and storage to provide faster browsing.

Reach Robotics – $7.5m (£5.8m)

In July 2017 Reach Robotics closed a $7.5m series-A investment round to further develop MekaMon – a multi-functional, connected battlebot with augmented reality capabilities.

The money will be used to expand its Bristol team and focus more on marketing and awareness of the brand which is hoped to gain global reach.

UltraSoc – £5m

Bristol SETsquared university incubator alumni UltraSoc is transforming the way companies develop and deliver next-generation electronic devices and systems by developing the technology to embed complex system-on-chip designs to monitor performance and find any problems.

In June 2017 the company raised £5m of fresh investment to drive continued deployment of its technology and realise its vision of embedding intelligent analytics capabilities into every chip.

Zeetta Networks – $4m (£3.2m)

Bristol-based startup Zeetta Networks has developed a unique software approach to network solutions called NetOS, which received $2million in venture capital investment back in December 2015 and a further $2million in August 2017 – bringing its total investment in the past 18 months to an impressive $4million.

The software network solution simplifies and dramatically increases the performance of ICT networks and has found itself optimising projects from Ashton Gate Stadium’s pursuit to go high-tech to the University of Bristol’s quest for 5G.

Industrial Phycology Ltd – £2.2m 

Industrial Phycology, which is based at the University of Bath Innovation Centre, was awarded a £2.2million Horizon 2020 grant in late 2016.

The funds will allow them to grow its team and continue to develop its incredible biotechnology that uses microalgae on a mass scale to recycle wastewater, converting it into green energy and livestock feed.

FiveAI – $2.7M (£2m)

FiveAI is a Bristol-based startup that’s developing artificial intelligence and machine learning software for fully autonomous vehicles.

The £2million backing the company received from venture capital funds Hauser’s Amadeus Capital Partners, Spring Partners and Notion Capital, will fund a bigger team for the development of the technology as well as simulation and road testing of the software.

It’s hoped that the company will develop to the top level of autonomous operation, Level 5, similar to the Google cars currently being testing in California.

Living Map – £1.2m

Bath-based Living Map is unlocking the potential of our spaces and cities. They won the UK Big Pitch, an Engie investment pitching competition, back in May 2016 and went on to receive £1.2million worth of investment.

Living Map’s clever and eye-catching smart maps have caught the imagination of some impressive clients, with its team building GPS maps for Heathrow Airport, the Met Museum in New York, as well as the maps for the Legible Bristol and Legible London projects.

Smart Antenna Technologies – £1m 

Bath SETsquared member Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) has embarked on the challenge to create the world’s first multi-functioning antenna with help from £1million worth of investment funding from the University of Birmingham.

Currently, a typical device will have six separate antennas – GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, 3G, 4G – so a multi-functioning antenna will mean greater efficiency (think better battery life!). It also eliminates the fear that new antennas will not be able to operate in harmony as we progress into using more advanced technologies such as 5G.

Cloudfind – £830k 

Bath-based software startup Cloudfind impressed angel investors with its automatic tagging software for businesses who use cloud storage.

The company received £830k worth of investment in 2016 to develop its innovative tagging system to radically simplify how teams access information stored in the cloud.

BookingLive – £500k

Earlier this year online booking and scheduling software provider BookingLive raised £500,000 pounds from venture capital firm The Summit Group, and non-profit investors Creative England to show off what they can do to others.

Having already won over clients like the BBC, the NHS and BMW, BookingLive’s founder and CEO Vinnie Morgan is now looking to develop a freemium version of his product that would be accessible to any organisation of any size: from SMEs to local voluntary organisations.

DoodleMaths – £350k 

DoodleMaths has been steaming ahead with its clever app that helps children with their understanding of maths and numeracy.

As well as raising £350k worth of angel investment, the startup won the prestigious Pitch@Palace competition as well as the Best Mobile App award at the SPARKies tech awards – both in 2016.

Impressed with our list of South West tech company investment raises but can think of more? Tell us! You can also stay up to date with local tech news, events and opportunities by signing up to the TechSPARK newsletter or following us on Twitter here: @TechSPARKuk.