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Ten Thames Valley start-up companies to watch

By Kirstie Pickering
22 February 2022
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We look at the the ten most innovative start-up companies emerging from the Thames Valley that build on the region's expertise in data and track record of university spin-outs.

The Thames Valley is home to some of the most innovative and exciting start-ups emerging from the UK.

The 2021 Tech Nation report, The Future UK Tech Built, named Oxford as the second ranked UK tech hub in 2020 after it secured £344m in investment. The report also featured a dedicated case study on Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ efforts in the global battle against Covid-19.  

With Reading also continuing to live up to its name as a burgeoning tech hub on the M4 corridor, the Thames Valley has lots to offer to VCs and angels looking to invest in businesses based outside of London. Here are ten start-ups from the region to watch. 

SafeToNet 

Based in Caversham, SafeToNet is an app that uses AI to detect and filter predatory risks in real-time as children use the internet. When a risk is detected, the app provides digital wellbeing audio guides that helps children deal with the issues. There is also an intelligent safeguarding keyboard that looks for signs of anxiety, stress, dark thoughts and bullying. When the keyboard detects a risk, it changes colour and sends a friendly alert.  

A Brainomix scan

Brainomix 

Launched as a spin-out from the University of Oxford, Brainomix develops AI-powered imaging biomarkers and software solutions to help medical professionals make better life-saving decisions. The company specialises in stroke, interstitial lung disease (ILD) and cancer, recently announcing a partnership with pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim to develop AI software for the automated assessment of solid tumour cancer.   

WorkBuzz 

WorkBuzz is an employee engagement platform that helps employers and managers gain real-time feedback from staff. The aim of the platform is to give employees a voice and improve their wellbeing, engagement and working culture. WorkBuzz raised £780,000 for its HR tech last year, with plans to use the money to double the size of its team.  

EAV 

Electric Assisted Vehicles – or EAV – is a vehicle design, engineering and production company developing solutions in the zero-emissions vehicles market. Based in the village of Upper Heyford near Bicester, EAV’s aim is to revolutionise the process of urban delivery, reducing the impact it has on our carbon footprint and pollution. Its electric fleet includes the eCargo bike, which DHL is trialling for its small-item home delivery service in Edinburgh. 

An EAV proposed design for a taxi is pictured above.

Bimble 

Dubbed the ‘Spotify of travel’ by The Wall Street Journal, the Oxford-based Bimble app allows users to find and save places they want to explore and recommend places to others. The aim of the app is to enable users to travel like a local, guiding them to places to visit off the beaten track rather than the well-trodden hotspots. From bookshops to bakeries, there are over 30,000 places that have been listed on the app so far by the Bimble community.  

An Oxwash driver at work

Oxwash 

Oxwash is an on-demand laundry service that puts sustainability at the core of its business. Operating from its headquarters in Oxford, the start-up uses electric bikes for washing deliveries and pickups, water-saving technology to clean clothes at lower temperatures, and dissolvable laundry bags. Oxwash has raised over £5.2m to date, an impressive feat given it was only founded in 2018. 

Occuity 

Reading-based Occuity develops optical diagnostic technologies for pain-free, non-contact screening and monitoring of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma and Alzheimer’s. Occuity raised over £2.85m in an investment round from over 850 investors from 38 countries, becoming the largest medtech raise ever on crowdfunding platform Seedrs.  

Bellevie Care 

Founded and based in Abingdon, Bellevie Care offers a unique take on home care providers that goes beyond support for the practical side of living. The company’s offering includes regular visits for personal care, a weekly visit for companionship, and organising gardener or hairdresser visits. It also provides support to help its customers retain a social life by arranging activities and transportation. Last year, the business raised £1.25m to support its growth, which included a £400,000 Government grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

Measurable.energy 

The Measurable.energy platform is designed to help facilities managers, building owners and occupants identify and eliminate wasted energy and Greenhouse Gas emissions from buildings. The m.e platform focuses on small power (sometimes known as plug load power), which can account for up to 40% of a commercial buildings’ energy consumption. In September, the start-up secured funds from investment company Bonheur ASA to scale its innovative technology. 

IgniteData 

Reading-based IgniteData is on a mission to shape the future of how clinical trials are conducted. Its Archer technology aims to improve the quality of trial operations by automating data extraction, eliminating human errors, reducing trial times and easing patient burden. The company recently announced a collaboration with AstraZeneca, and also secured a £350,000 grant from Innovate UK last year. 


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