Ten technology start-ups in Greater Manchester are to receive funding and mentoring from the government’s innovation agency to help fund key projects.
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), financed by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, is backing the companies that won the Creative and Digital Launchpad competition with £700,000, after they were deemed to have the most potential for innovation and growth.
The cohort of companies, who will now receive varying amounts of financial backing, includes a firm that can reportedly transform any surface into a computer interface and another that helps customers gauge a company's ethics.
It is hoped that the funding and support offered by the TSB will help the companies generate new knowledge and skills, thereby enabling them to grow their business.
The companies will also be given the opportunity to pitch for further investment at a Launchpad Investment Showcase event at the Landing workspace in Media City UK in June, where a number of investors will be present.
Nigel Walker, head of access to finance at the Technology Strategy Board, said: “The aim of this Launchpad is to draw companies, investment and people into the Greater Manchester creative and digital cluster and encourage networking and co-operation.
"Innovative SMEs that might not be able to develop their product without support will get access to a programme that includes funding for their R&D projects, as we want to help the whole cluster in Manchester to grow."
Nick Johnson, director of winning company EventBeat said: “The Technology Strategy Board has presented us with a huge opportunity as we strive to become recognised globally as market leaders in Social Signage technology. This project funding will enable us to develop a ‘Self Service platform’ to deliver a scalable solution to a mass market.”
Sean Duffy, Barclays MD for Technology, Media and Telecoms, said: "Manchester was one of the first places in the UK to have an internet exchange and has long been a highly connected destination for technology companies. Now, prime locations like MediaCityUK are attracting a number of exciting new technology driven companies to the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal."
But Manchester recently ranked lower than the North East England's DigitalCity on a list of digital hotspots put out by the Institute of Economic and Social Research.
The winning companies and their products are:
- Digital Bridge by Shortbite Ltd from Salford - developing an automated process to convert pictures and video into digital models for applications using augmented and virtual reality. This approach will make the process more cost-effective, efficient and quicker than creating these models manually for applications used in architecture, real estate, retail and oil and gas exploration.
- Interactive Projected Displays ROI by Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd - a unique technology that can effectively transform any surface in a room into a computer interface, alleviating the reliance on mobile devices for the use of applications. Examples include creating a digital cocktail menu for ordering in noisy environments, developing safety overlays for high risk industries and way finding for digital tourism.
- EventBeat SaaS by EventBeat Ltd from Stockport - Social Signage technology that broadcasts audience social media comments and pictures direct to screens displayed at live events in order to create interaction, build engagement and generate additional revenue through broadcasting advertising. This project aims to take it to the next level by building a self-service platform that will enable event organisers to create fully branded/animated feeds, upload images from asset libraries, schedule digital adverts and monitor live event activity.
- Automating Knowledge in the Cloud by Empiricom Technologies Limited from Manchester - a knowledge acquisition interview tool, which helps organisations uncover human knowledge and manage decisions by providing a structured interview technique & exhaustively documenting an individual’s entire expertise on any subject. SOLAR Acquire gives users the power to create and distribute expert knowledge applets (small apps within an app), including in community portals, mobile platforms and e-learning material.
- Impact by Reason Digital from Manchester– helps customers to gauge a company’s ethics using an online software-as-a-service to consistently record corporate social responsibility, participation in company-wide programmes and individual contributions, to visually monitor social impact.
- User generated meta-data (POC) by Movobi Ltd from Stockport - The Movobi platform currently has the ability to capture data about on-screen information and present it to users via clickable screen shots. The delivery is used for companies looking to obtain more intelligent information about on screen items, such as products, that have not only been purposefully placed on websites but also provides a new approach for gathering information about online user interaction with these products. This is done through mass tagging of shared images with intelligent filtering and has also been optimised for mobile.
- Tick by Tickvantage Limited from Manchester – solving one of the biggest issues with online security, Tick is evolving the process of authentication beyond the tradition of supplying a username and password which is no longer good enough. Instead, Tick solves this problem by creating a stronger authentication procedure by using any mobile phone (not just smartphones) to deliver multiple channels of authentication of an individual, organisation and even products. People are able to interact and transact in a far more convenient, easier and safer way than ever before.
- Moneystream by Play Creative Limited (trading as Play) from MediaCityUK - a digital finance product that combines personal financial activity with multiple external data sources of information to provide both a meaningful analysis of past behaviour, and guidance on future decision making. By monitoring where users go, and what they do, it allows individuals to make smarter decisions and ultimately improve their financial life. Designed around real customer need rather than the constructs of the financial industry, it will create a far smarter consumer relationship with spending.
- Retrofit design and assessment tool by the Society for the Reduction of Carbon Ltd (trading as Carbon Co-op) from Chorlton - a partnership of creative digital design companies developing a house retrofit design and assessment web tool that supports the implementation of large scale home energy efficiency refits. The tool will be integrated and automated with increasing standardisation of information management and data transfer to reduce costs and increase capacity, to unlock a new market for the construction industry in the UK.
- Social Hosted TV by iBurbia Studios Manchester Ltd from MediaCityUK– this project looks at creating a service which delivers innovative web and social media services – such as recommendations, clip sharing and storage services - into TV set top boxes and internet connected 'Smart' TV screens. Recognising the impact that social media is having on the TV experience, this project is opening up the possibility of making this kind of digital service available to all, rather than just to pay TV subscribers. The proposed service will be accessible to all and is intended to be sold via the set top boxes or web sites of the free-to-air companies.