Five new wireless entrepreneurs won the praise of leading venture capitalists, angel investors and wireless industry experts yesterday at the finals of the nationwide Discovering Start-Ups 2013 competition. The winners were chosen from 18 finalists from across the UK who pitched their innovative technologies and business plans to the panel of judges that included senior executives from BT, Google, Orange Labs, Qualcomm Ventures, Samsung and Innovacom, along with investors such as London Business Angels and NESTA.
The winners of Discovering Start-Ups 2013 are Chirp, Ether Books, Simpalarm, SQR Systems and White Space Water.
Chirp is a new platform that allows consumers and businesses to share data using sonic barcodes in the form of electronic bird song, using anything that creates sound from TVs and radios to smartphones and doorbells. The company is based in London.
Ether Books from Bath has developed a mobile social commerce technology platform that enables individual writers and publishers' writers, to get published, get paid and to engage directly with a global smartphone and tablet reading audience.
Simpalarm, based in Bristol, pitched an effective and affordable device designed to provide family telecare by unobtrusively monitoring a wide range of normal daily activities in the home such as movement, door opening, visitors, water and electricity.
SQR Systems is working on innovative technology to securely distribute video data over low-bandwidth and bandwidth varying networks to constantly optimise the video in encrypted form. SQR Systems is based in London.
WhiteSpace Water is looking to reduce water loss and save money with its range of sensors and systems for the water industry based on Weighless-technology and White Space spectrum.
The Discovering Start-Ups competition is run by Cambridge Wireless and Silicon South West – two of the UK’s leading technology industry networks – along with the support of London’s Tech City. Now in its fourth year, the competition is sponsored by Qualcomm Ventures, as well as Google, Rohde & Schwarz, SETsquared, Microlease/Agilent Technologies and Taylor Wessing, who hosted the pitch event at its London headquarters.
“The innovation, ambition and passion shown by the 18 finalists reflects the strength of the UK’s tech start-up industries,” said Dr Soraya Jones, CEO of Cambridge Wireless. “The quality and diversity of the entrants made it difficult to judge but we can be confident that the five winners will be ones to watch over the next few years.”
One of last year’s winners, Smart Antenna Technologies has recently secured funding and launched an innovative single-antenna technology for smartphones and tablet devices that replaces up to six separate antennae. “Winning Discovering Start-Ups 2012 certainly helped to raise our profile in the wireless and investor communities and has contributed to the rapid growth of our business,” said Professor Rick Hillum, CEO at Smart Antenna Technologies.
“While there is no shortage of entrepreneurs with great ideas and vision, business development and fundraising remain tough and you have to take advantage of every opportunity,” said Clennell Collingwood, of TTP Ventures. “The chance to get in front of some 20 investors and major industry influencers at one time is a tremendous opportunity and all the judges were impressed by the quality and inventiveness of the companies pitching in the finals.”
As well as the prestigious Discovering Start-Ups trophies, the five winning organisations were each presented with a prize fund worth £5,000 including cash prizes sponsored by Qualcomm and tickets to Mobile World Congress provided by UKTI. The prize also includes 12 month memberships to both Cambridge Wireless – the not-for-profit industry forum with a network of nearly 400 members involved in the development and application of wireless technologies – and SETsquared, including a business MOT, networking and mentoring support, investor readiness training and the prospect to be selected for various investor showcases in London and the US. In addition, they get the opportunity to pitch to a global market in the Innovation Hothouse, as part of Cambridge Wireless’ The Future of Wireless International Conference 2014.
For more information on the winners and finalists, please visit: www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/dsu