According to Startups.co.uk’s Start-Up Cities Index, Birmingham has the largest number of start-ups of any UK city outside of London. England’s ‘Second City’ has long been one of the country’s leading commercial hubs, but it’s also fast becoming a hotspot for start-up innovators looking to turn ideas into profitable realities.
As development plans for High Speed Rail 2 continue, improving links between Birmingham and London, the city is set to become better connected to industries and professionals than ever before, with over 90% of the UK within four hours’ reach. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the most fascinating Birmingham-based start-ups looking to grow in 2020 and beyond.
Eyoto was born out of Aston University, underlining the talent pool among graduates in the ‘Second City’. The company initially started life as Aston EyeTech before evolving into the Eyoto brand that’s increasingly recognised for its proprietary hardware and software for ocular care. Following a Series A round of crowdfunding, the start-up bagged a cool £5 million to help the company improve upon its cloud-based systems that improve patient diagnoses using camera and optical lens technology.
Harry Jawanda was the brains behind the launch of Wambiz – a customer experience-led start-up specialising in bespoke apps for schools, colleges, and corporate environments to improve social networking. Mr Jawanda was named Alumni of the Year by Birmingham City University in 2018, such was his inspirational work in the tech sector.
Jawanda and co-founder Andrew West managed to secure $2.6 million in seed and angel funding and shortly after it was acquired by Allocate Software in London. Jawanda said at the announcement of the sale that he was “proud” of the Wambiz solution which enabled organisations to “change the way in which their people collaborate and engage”.
Innov8 Gaming was founded as recently as 2018, with an ambition of delivering state-of-the-art, forward-thinking iGaming content to online and offline operators. The studio, headed up by founders Chris Beckley and Alastair Harris, contains a wealth of experience in slot games design, and last year the pair were present at the Autumn Coin-Op Show showcasing their latest game titles.
There are quite literally thousands (over 1,200 to be exact) of free slot games to choose from in 2020, which are a suitable entry point for beginners to slot gaming. Start-ups like Innov8 Gaming have a big task to stand out against the established players such as NetEnt and Pragmatic Play, but their founders have a proven track record in the industry.
Birmingham-based PM Connect is a start-up that has already evolved into a company turning over £20 million a year. Its founder, James Macfarlane, spotted a growing trend in mobile internet use among all demographics and launched PM Connect to try and help brands to monetise mobile content and advertising.
At the time of writing, the company is partnered with over 70 mobile carriers across the globe, helping brands to reach over 680 million consumers via its platform. PM Connect has been named in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 for two successive years and is a rapidly expanding business with even further growth potential.
Geospatial experts Dan Schnurr and Dave Fox launched Geospatial Insight back in 2012, with an ambition to fill a gap in the market. What was the gap? There was no-one providing actionable business intelligence based on satellite imagery. Geospatial Insight set about partnering with a string of satellite, aerial and UAV networks to develop unique proprietary services that have proved indispensable to sectors such as the investment and insurance industries.
It has fundamentally revolutionised the way that some insurers and investors make key fiscal decisions. Geospatial Insight is now a global leader for visual intelligence and continues to grow, with a new Birmingham headquarters in the Coleshill area.
With so many fascinating industries thriving in Birmingham, it’s clear to see that these thought leaders will be vital for the city’s economy, helping to steer it into 2021 and beyond.