The FinTech Five – Friend Members Edition 

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Welcome to a friends edition of the FinTech Five! This week we are taking a closer look at the best news updates from five of our FinTech Wales Friend Members who continue to provide support, knowledge, and expertise to our region’s FinTech community. 

1. Illustrate Digital Ranked Among Top 100 Agencies Globally for Growth

First this week, Clutch this month announced the results of their 2022 list of agencies for growth. Amongst that list, Illustrate Digital, one of the leading UX and WordPress agencies in the UK and across Europe, were ranked among the top 100 agencies globally for sustained growth!

The list looks at companies all across the world and ranks them based on their revenue growth, comparing the data against other agencies worldwide to help publish their list of the agencies with the fastest and most sustainable growth.

This prestigious list is a comprehensive ranking of the top B2B firms worldwide and is created based on a rigorous evaluation process; taking into account confirmed revenue growth across a three-year period.

It’s widely recognised that Clutch is the go-to place online to find and compare agencies across a range of different services including marketing, PR, web development, UX design and much more.

This is what makes it particularly impressive that Illustrate Digital are amongst only a handful of UK agencies to make the list, the only UK agency outside of London to make the list, as well as the only agency based in Wales.

In the coming year, Illustrate Digital will be focusing on expanding their reach, revenue and their team size even further, all by continuing to create cutting-edge websites and by growing their presence in new markets.

Excitingly, Illustrate Digital are also investing heavily in R&D, so that they can continue to innovate and lead in both WordPress and UX Design in the years to come.

Click here to read more on Illustrate Digital’s website. 

2. New Cyber Innovation Hub supporting Wales to become a global leader in Cyber Security

Next, a new Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH) to help Wales become a global leader in Cyber Security will be operational later this year having attracted co-investment commitments from Welsh Government, The Cardiff Capital Region City Deal (CCR) and industry partners.

The Welsh Government and the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal are each making a £3m investment in the new Hub over a 2-year period, with a further £3.5m of in-kind match funding from consortium partners boosting the initial investment to £9.5m. It is expected that the CIH will attract £19.9m in total support over 5 years.

The Funding is being made available to a consortium led by Cardiff to develop the partnership with collaborators including Airbus, Alacrity Cyber, CGI, Thales NDEC, Tramshed Tech, and the University of South Wales.

Developed under the directorship of Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity, School of Computer Science and Informatics, CIH aims to boost the number of cyber security businesses anchored in South East Wales, and enhance cybersecurity skills to widen and diversify the cybersecurity talent pool.

The creation of the new hub will create a step-change for Wales’ existing cyber security excellence, operating together in co-ordinated cluster-based activities. It will foster collaboration between industry, government and academic partners, with a focus on growing the Welsh cybersecurity sector and enabling the nation to take advantage of the anticipated growth of the sector in the UK, and globally. The investment will leverage a coordinated approach to skills, innovation and new enterprise creation that is unique in the UK.

By 2030, the Hub aims to have:

  • Created at least 27 cybersecurity start-ups – growing the cyber security sector in Wales by more than 50% in terms of volume of businesses;
  • Attracted more than £20m in private equity investment;
  • Upskilled and reskilled approx. 1750 cyber-skilled individuals and created a coordinated catalyst for new products, high growth businesses and talent in the region.
  • Help attract and anchor the best cybersecurity talent in Wales, which will also benefit the local foundational economy.

Click here to read more about the new Cyber Innovation Hub on CCR’s website. 

3. Additional Cost Category: R&D Tax Credit Changes Explained by LimestoneGrey

Next this week, during the 2021 Autumn budget, the government confirmed the addition of an extra R&D tax credit cost category: data and cloud computing. This announcement has been much anticipated following the 2020 consultation on qualifying criteria and has been welcomed by companies and advisors alike.

In a recent article, LimestoneGrey took the time to explain some of these changes, as well as their limitations. 

The Inclusion of Data and Cloud Computing Costs

At present, there are six cost categories of qualifying expenditure: Staff Costs, Externally Provided Workers, Subcontracted R&D Activities, Consumables, Software & Payments to Clinical TrialVolunteers. 

Licence payments for datasets 

Following the consultation, it was clear that datasets can be a vital research and development tool for companies across many sectors, but particularly for those in high tech, computational based companies.

Cloud Computing and Software

The consultation revealed that where research is data intensive, companies rely on third party processing capacity and analytical tools to interrogate the data, with businesses accessing these capabilities via the internet or ‘the cloud’. Responses showed that this is the most effective way of performing this activity, and in some instances, the only viable way to achieve the required outcome.

Matthew Jones, managing director, LimestoneGrey, commented:

“The announcement to include data and cloud computing costs as a qualifying R&D tax credit expense category is a step in the right direction to ensure the relief is fit for purpose for modern research and development techniques. The way in which companies conduct R&D has vastly changed since the scheme’s introduction back in 2000 so it is only right that the relief evolves too.”

Sarah Williams-Gardner, CEO at FinTech Wales commented:

“The UK has shown a great tradition for innovation in the Financial Services sector, with the emergence over the past 7 or so years of a dynamic Fintech sector. With the introduction of PSD2, the promotion and adoption of open banking we have seen significant investments in R&D and innovation. These have benefits to both UK consumers, businesses and the wider economy as a whole. With the ever evolving technology landscape it is great to see the changes in R&D tax credits, supporting and encouraging UK innovators.”

Click here to read the full article on LimestoneGrey’s website.

4. Net Zero X programme launched by Tech Nation for later-stage climate tech companies

Next, Tech Nation have announced their newest growth programme – Net Zero X, launched in collaboration with PwC – which is open for applications.

Whilst Tech Nation’s original Net Zero programme continues to focus on supporting early-stage climate tech startups at a crucial stage of their growth, Net Zero X has been designed specifically for the UK’s leading later-stage climate tech scaleups. 

Net Zero X aims to futureproof the UK’s climate tech sector by reducing the climate tech carbon funding gap, countering the climate tech ‘valley of death’ experienced by many R&D-intensive companies due to longer times before commercialisation. The programme supports the growth of high emissions reduction potential (ERP) companies, primarily in hard-to-abate sectors, by connecting them to investors, corporates, partners, policy-makers and other stakeholders. This will help shape the ecosystem that founders need to succeed.

Leo Johnson, head of disruption and innovation at PwC UK, said: 

“If bending the emissions arc is a global imperative, then one lever we’ve got to pull, and pull hard, is climate tech – unlocking a startup ecosystem that has the potential to decarbonise hard to abate sectors at speed and scale. The UK has emerged as a leading global climate tech centre and Net Zero X has got a simple goal: to harness this talent and connect these high impact startups with the capital, know-how and market they need to deliver on their full potential.”

Up to 20 companies will be selected onto the programme and, over 6 months, these companies will be helped to tackle sector and stage-specific challenges through sessions delivered by expert scale coaches and entrepreneurs. Founders and their leadership teams accepted onto the programme will benefit from both Tech Nation and PwC’s expertise, investor networks and mentorship.

To qualify for the programme, companies must:

  • Be a climate tech scaleup, directly or indirectly contributing to greenhouse gas emission reduction
  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Be in between Series A and pre-IPO

Submit your application here. Applications will close on the 28th June.

Click here for more information on tech Nation’s Net Zero X programme. 

5. GS Verde advise on raise for AI based tech business

Last but not least this week, Route Konnect, an AI software development company described as the ‘Google Analytics’ of physical spaces, has raised £780,000 pre-seed equity investment in a deal advised on by GS Verde Group.

Set to revolutionise the way the world understands people and vehicle behaviour, Route Konnect is the first video analytics company to offer connected, multi-camera, movement insights with a solution that allows users to obtain vital business intelligence using a fully anonymous process, eradicating the need for controversial facial recognition technology.

The Cardiff-based company was founded by Chief Executive Mohamed Binesmael, software engineer Matteo De Rosa, and Chief Technology Officer Daniel Harborne. This first pre-seed equity investment will be used to support the commercialisation of Route Konnect’s offering with the appointment of key technical and business development specialists.

Co-founder and managing director Mohamed Binesmael said:

“Our sensors and analytics tools offer intelligent, real-time insights- saving time, resources and our planet.

“From reducing dwell times on railway platforms to easing traffic congestion with smart roads and improving customer experience at stadiums and retail outlets, we’ve got the technology and the ambition to change the way in which the world understands people and vehicle behaviour.”

This funding has been provided by the Development Bank’s Wales Technology Seed Fund, venture capital company PiLabs, early-stage investors SFC Capital and the balance from private angel investors along with the backing of Plug and Play, early investors in Dropbox and Paypal.

Click here to read the full announcement on GS Verde’s website. 

Until Next Time

That’s it for this month’s Friends Edition of the FinTech Five. Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to join us next Friday for more of the best content from across our FinTech Wales membership.

If you want to join our dynamic FinTech Wales community, then click here to learn more about the exclusive benefits FinTech Wales membership has to offer.