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(Image above shows Quantum dot technology, developed by Quantum Solutions one of the pitching companies, for image sensors to enable a ‘superhuman’ vision and capture images that would be invisible to the naked eye)
SETsquared Investment Programme Manager, Chris Hill, gives us his insights into SETsquared’s flagship investment showcase taking place on 1 December, as well as highlighting a selection of the exciting ventures which will be pitching this year.
There’s no getting away from the fact that 2022 has been a turbulent year. Political change, the aftershock of the pandemic and Brexit, as well as the war in Ukraine have created uncertainty which is being felt in every area of the economy, including the funding environment for the UK’s start-ups and scale-ups.
The stats tell us that investment activity in the UK has declined in the last 12 months. This was almost inevitable, given the huge uptake in deals in 2021, following the pandemic.
Despite all of 2022’s curve balls, there are many positive signs that SETsquared-backed ventures are bucking this trend. In 2021 alone, these ventures raised £225m in early-stage equity and grants and there are no signs of this slowing down.
We’ve been working harder than ever to grow our investment network and provide opportunities for our members to access the right finance at the right time. For example, through the Innovate UK-funded Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA), we’ve enabled 19 companies to raise funding that would otherwise have been inaccessible and so extending their runways, and accelerating products to market. These companies accessed £3.3m of R&D funding leveraging >£8.6m investment from our angel community, enabling them to create over 50 new jobs. We are currently working with 10 angel syndicates on this scheme, representing >1000 active angels with equity investment capacity estimated at £15m pa
There are also some really positive signs of things picking up, for example, there is significant growth in cleantech investment and innovation, with the UK now the 3rd largest investment market for green technologies and in contrast to the overall trend, this is not London-centric.
As ever our annual investment showcase is the highlight of our events calendar, and this year is set to be even bigger and better than ever as we celebrate SETsquared’s 20th anniversary. We’ll be bringing you 39 high-tech, high-growth start-ups, spin-outs and scale-ups from across SETsquared’s portfolio as well as some exciting, earlier-stage graduate and student-led ventures.
Many of the innovations that will be on show are backed by university calibre research, patents, and licensing. They have the potential to transform (for the better) everything that is critical to our way of life – food production, education, transport, heating, lighting, security, and healthcare. In the current market conditions – these will be the ones to watch.
Here’s a sneak preview of some of the fantastic companies that will be pitching for investment this year.
Maverick Aviation Ltd is an award-winning team of pioneering aviators and engineers who are developing a novel flight platform to reduce vertical-lift costs for defence and security, reduce response times for critical life support, and address a growing demand for accessibility on critical national infrastructure.
Maverick’s advanced software and semi-automated flight control system provide safe and intuitive air mobility with minimal training. The innovative technology can also be flown remotely or autonomously as a heavy-lift cargo drone and runs on sustainable biofuels.
Quantum Solutions has developed quantum dot technology for image sensors to enable a ‘superhuman’ vision and capture images that would be invisible to the naked eye.
It provides quantum dot (QDot™) materials and helps to integrate them with silicon sensor technologies to detect light beyond the visible spectrum. These wide range image sensors enable “superhuman” vision and capture images that would be invisible to the naked eye: lower-energy infrared (IR) lights or higher-energy UV and X-ray lights. Cameras enhanced with these quantum dots can be beneficial in many fields; machine vision (quality inspections and control, food security, pharmaceuticals), the automotive industry, security, and consumer electronics (smartphones and AR/VR headsets).
Milbotix has developed ‘smart socks’ which are able to track rising distress in the wearer which could improve the wellbeing of millions of people with dementia, non-verbal autism and other conditions that affect communication, enabling care workers to intervene earlier.
Smart socks track heart rate, sweat levels and motion to give insights into the wearer’s wellbeing – most importantly how anxious the person is feeling. They look and feel like normal socks, do not need charging, are machine washable and provide a steady stream of data to care workers, who can easily see analyse metrics on an app. Current alternative products on the market include wearable wrist straps, which can stigmatise or even cause more stress.
Plastic-i is developing the first commercially available software for mapping and tracking marine plastic. Its software platform uses high-resolution satellite imagery and AI algorithms to detect, measure, and track marine debris on a global scale. These insights are used by key decision-makers to define evidence-based policies, plan high-impact interventions, and boost clean-up efficiency. The company hopes that this data-driven approach will drastically reduce the volume of plastic entering water systems, resulting in huge environmental and economic gains.
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