Last week came the news that - according to London & Partners – London's tech sector had attracted more venture capital investment than any other European city since the Brexit vote, including Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam.
Tech companies in the city received £1.8bn in venture capital funding since the UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, with tech firms in the wider UK receiving a total of £5.3 billion of private equity funding in the first half of 2017.
Tech companies that made investment headlines were virtual reality start-up Improbable, which received £388m, and London-based FinTech companies Funding Circle (£82m), Zopa (£32m) and Monzo (£22m). But the long list of tech start-ups that contributed to London’s growth came from a range of verticals, including PropTech, and HealthTech. These were mixed with some unexpected innovations that attest to London’s top standing for technology. Here’s our round-up of the best of the unexpected:
The demands of “on-demand”
As Amazon starts trialling drone deliveries in under 30 minutes, the on-demand economy is set to skyrocket in ubiquity and method.
Spearheaded by two of Skype’s co-founders, Starship Technologies has developed a fleet of robot delivery vehicles that are, according to Gizmodo, “a great alternative to delivery drones”. With a number of US cities giving a thumbs up to delivery robots, the London-based company’s combination of mobile technology, specially designed robots and a local hub system aims to make local delivery “faster, smarter and more cost-efficient.”
Starship Technologies raised £17.2m in seed funding in the first half of 2017.
Leveraging social media marketing
“It's easy to make money with a massive social media following,” wrote R.L. Adams. “The hard part is getting the massive following.”
The power of social media and the influencers who often dominate it is undisputable: according to a recent report by AdWeek, approximately 40% of consumers purchased a product after they saw an influencer they followed use it.
Lobster, a search and licensing platform for user-generated content, is looking to leverage social media endorsements, both from known influencers and from everyday users and consumers. The site enables brands, agencies and the media to search for and license visual content directly from social media users and cloud archives, which can then be used in marketing materials. Social media users whose content is used receive a commission.
Lobster raised £1.2m of Series A funding.
The sharing economy
Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over $1 trillion. Meanwhile 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.
“Food waste is a massive market inefficiency, the kind of which does not persist in other industries,” says OLIO, a free app that connects people with their neighbours and local shops so surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away.
Supermarkets and larger organisations are using OLIO as well, with food industry giants such as Sainsbury’s using the app in a third of its food waste “discovery communities”.
An unexpected and moving result of OLIO is that many are using it to not only combat food waste, but to address personal food poverty. “I’m getting users thanking me, saying they wouldn’t have been able to feed their family tonight had it not been for OLIO’,” OLIO co-founder Tessa Cook told HuffPost.
OLIO raised £1.81m of pre-series A funding.
AI-powered audio transcription
Audio-to-text – and the people who use or want to use them – has been waiting for this. Trint provides accurate, automated transcription that not only details what is being said, but who is saying it. Audio, video, meetings, interviews, lectures and more can be quickly generated and edited – in 13 languages, and three different accents in English.
“Trint's technology is still nascent, but it could eventually give new life to vast swaths of non-text-based media on the internet, like videos and podcasts, by making them readable to both humans and search engines,” writes Wired. “People could read podcasts they lack the time or ability to listen to. YouTube videos could be indexed with a time-coded transcript, then searched for text terms. There are other applications too: Filmmakers could index their footage for better organization, and journalists, researchers, and lawyers could save the many hours it takes to transcribe long interviews.”
Trint currently offers a range of pricing plans for individuals and organisations, as well as a customised option. The company raised $3.1m in the first half of 2017.