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Ten Solent start-up companies to watch

By Kirstie Pickering
10 March 2022

The Solent has nurtured some of the most exciting start-ups in the UK through to huge investment rounds.

Future Worlds is the on-campus start-up accelerator at the University of Southampton, whose mission is to help the next generation of aspiring founders change the world with their ideas. Also in Southampton is Solent Futures, Solent University's careers, employability and enterprise service. The institution has a comprehensive start-up programme for students and graduates that offers advice, training and the opportunity to apply for up to £3,000 worth of funding and support.

The University of Portsmouth’s Enterprise Programme also offers the opportunity to apply for a maximum of £3,000 to support a potential founder’s enterprising journey. In 2020, Portsmouth City Council launched Crowdfund Portsmouth in partnership with Shaping Portsmouth to help increase start-ups and business growth.

According to research carried out by Instant Offices in 2020, Portsmouth was even ranked number one on a list of the UK’s most entrepreneurial cities that measures new business activity, with London coming in third place. With the region showing much promise, here are ten start-ups to watch from the Solent.

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Arch AI 

Founded out of the University of Southampton, ArchAI, whose product is pictured above, aims to remove risks within the construction industry by using AI to automatically detect archaeology. The company automates the assessment of archaeological sites required with environmental impact assessments during the planning permission application process for construction projects within Europe. At the end of 2021, ArchAI secured €50K funding and support from the European Space Agency Business Innovation Centre (ESA BIC).


Formally named Future Brew, Immediate Beer is a craft beer producer with sustainability at its heart. Immediate is a carbon negative beer that saves 100 grams of CO2 per can. The beer is brewed using power from wind turbines, uses no single-use plastic in its packaging, is sold within a 200-mile radius of its warehouses to reduce on transport emissions, and uses local ingredients to minimise the start-up’s carbon footprint.


Based at its headquarters in Portsmouth, toob is a broadband provider for the southeast of England. Founded by an experienced team from some of the world’s biggest telecommunications brands, toob offers simple, affordable access to its full-fibre network so everyone in the community can benefit, regardless of income, technical knowledge or age. Toob plans to open up its network to more than 1M premises across the South of England over the next decade. Its huge raise of £25M in 2021 will certainly help that mission.

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Sentient Sports 

Sentient Sports’ technology uses a series of algorithms based on AI research. This is used to analyse data and optimise the decision-making and scouting process when buying and selling football players. The technology has even been used by football teams in the English Premier League. Sentient Sports was awarded the prestigious Enterprise Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering in December.


Portsmouth-based Phlex is on a mission to become the ‘go to’ place for co-working in the UK, building a co-working community and providing the flexibility home workers often need. Phlex was founded by Jill Farmer and Caroline Sumners, two colleagues frustrated by the challenges of working from home and who desperately wanted a professional and local working environment. Users can search for their local area to find nearby workspaces and the facilities it offers.


AccelerComm provides complete physical layer IP solutions that enable optimal performance of 5G radio access networks, an important mission as the UK readies itself for the widespread use of 5G. The start-up also strives to solve the challenges that would otherwise limit the speed, latency and spectral efficiency of 5G. In 2020, AccelerComm raised £5.8M in Series A funding in a round led by IQ Capital along with existing investors Bloc Ventures and the IP Group.

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Future Worlds alumni BOON helps retailers offer private, engaging online experiences using psychology research and AI. BOON collects millions of valuable, anonymous data points such as shoppers' responses to questions and recommendation feedback. They then aggregate this data and generate insights into shopper demographics, interests and desires. These insights can help retailers design future campaigns and understand the demographics, intention and personality of its customers.


Symetrica manufactures a range of radiation detection products including handhelds, backpacks, mobiles and portals, all enhanced by machine learning. Last summer, Symetrica announced the successful completion of a €200,000 (£168,300) project to provide The European Nuclear Security Training Centre (EUSECTRA) at the Joint Research Centre in Germany with a modular autonomous ground robot with detection capabilities. The robot can survey hazardous environments for the presence of radionuclides and explosives using fully integrated detectors.


Inpulse uses AI to correct and improve muscle performance in real time via smart clothing. Sensors embedded within Inpulse’s shorts monitor muscle activity, sending information to an AI tool within the shorts that calculates which muscles need stimulating. Workout performance, muscle imbalances and other areas where there is room for improvement can also be tracked via Inpulse’s dashboard on the user’s smartphone.


ViridiCO2, led by entrepreneurial researchers from the University of Southampton, has created innovative technology capable of addressing the lack of Carbon Capture Utilisation (CCU) technology. This has been achieved by transforming carbon dioxide into a variety of high-value chemical intermediates. ViridiCO2’s technology enables manufacturers to derive chemical products using CO2 whilst directly replacing traditional petrochemicals. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

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