At ForrestBrown we play an important role in driving innovation in the UK. It is a bold claim, but as R&D tax credit specialists we help innovative companies recoup their R&D expenditure every day. This money then gets reinvested into yet more exciting projects and our clients’ grow.

We work closely with entrepreneurs and investors alike to help support and scale start-ups in disruptive tech sectors across the UK. By utilising R&D tax incentives, our aim is to move towards an even more advantageous environment where the UK’s tech economy can grow and innovation is supported at every level.

As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the important role that R&D tax credits can play in funding our clients’ growth and helping them disrupt their markets. R&D tax credits as a source of funding can help a start-up get market-ready and scale, or help established businesses grow further.

With all that in mind, we celebrate the disruptive tech sectors in the UK and highlight some of the key movers and shakers:

  1. AgriTech
  2. BioTech
  3. CleanTech
  4. EdTech
  5. FinTech
  6. FoodTech
  7. HealthTech
  8. GreenTech
  9. InsurTech
  10. MADTech / ADTech
  11. PropTech
  12. PRTech
  13. RetailTech
  14. TravelTech

aGRI_tECH ICON1. AgriTech

What is it?

Technology is being used to solve problems in agriculture, farming, and food production and distribution. The AgriTech sector sees scientists, technologists and engineers joining forces with start-ups and more established companies to resolve issues around waste, environmental threats and increasingly limited resources.

AgriTech focuses in part on increasing yields while minimising input, but also looks at how new technologies – such as drones, AgriBots, LED lights and Internet of Things – can be applied to improve farming. One of the most exciting areas is big data where everything from smart tractors to satellites are collecting data that can then be analysed at scale so that farmers can make more informed decisions.

The UK is on the verge of becoming a world leader in AgriTech and is an exciting area to watch as capital is being raised and government initiatives start coming into force.

Key areas: AgriBots | Big data | Precision farming

Big players:

Field Margin

Adama UK

Ones to watch:

Skyview Robotics

SOYL Precision Farming

Growing Underground

Further reading:

Agri-Tech and R&D

Big data and farming

bIOtECH_ICON2. BioTech

What is it?

Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products that help improve our lives. It covers diverse areas like gene-editing, biological-based medicines and tissue replacement.

BioTech looks to address major challenges like antibiotic resistance to finding a cure for cancer and age-related diseases. Scientists are now able to build entire genomes from scratch, allowing for research into a number of areas including disease detection. They can also build cells and organisms to fulfil a range of different purposes from biofuel to anti-malarial drugs to synthetic vanilla.

Despite leading the way with scientific research, the UK’s BioTech industry has struggled to find investors. As a consequence many start-ups have been heading across the Atlantic to raise capital. Now more than ever there is an exciting opportunity and need to invest in our homegrown talent.

Key areas: Genes | Translational medicine | Pharmaceuticals

Big players:

Oxford Immunotec

GW Pharmaceuiticals

Ones to watch:

Lombard Medical

Silence Therapeutics

Horizon Discovery

Further reading:

Investopedia on BioTech

We Are All Cyborgs

CleanTech_icon3. CleanTech

What is it?

CleanTech is all about technologies and related business models that reduce waste and help businesses limit their negative impact on the environment. It uses emerging tech to improve products, processes and services, with a focus on supporting sustainability. Key areas are resource efficiency, minimising pollution and looking at alternative and renewable forms of energy like solar and wind power and biofuels.

As well as finding ways to improve operational performance and enhance eco-efficiency, CleanTech start-ups have been looking at how energy is stored, developing batteries capable of storing and transmitting renewable energy. Other companies are looking at electric vehicles and big data analytics for energy monitoring.

Clean energy and a move towards a low carbon economy are increasingly important as resources dwindle and energy security is more of a priority for businesses. CleanTech’s focus on high growth industries has seen it make a comeback with investors and venture capitalists (VCs).

Note: CleanTech differs from green technology in that it usually refers to the emerging financial industry rather than the actual technology in which it invests.

Key areas: BioFuels | Clean energy | Energy storage

Big players:

4Energy

E Leather

Ones to watch:

Upside

Lontra

BBOXX

Iceotope

Bactest

Further reading:

Cleantech Group

Uruguay and Clean Energy

EdTech_icon4. EdTech

What is it?

EdTech makes use of digital technology to engage learners in new and innovative ways and reduce the cost of teaching. By tackling the inefficiencies of the current education system and addressing the issues it faces head-on, the UK’s EdTech ecosystem is working towards delivering a whole new form of teaching.

Education and learning technology disrupts how education is resourced, taught and consumed. For example, it aims to improve student engagement with gamification, mobile learning apps and immersive content like video and virtual reality.

Elsewhere, big data analytics are being used to monitor individual performance and deliver personalised learning via the most effective methods. The overall learning programmes can also be improved by insights from big data. Similarly, online and cloud technology is enabling students to access teacher-endorsed resources, submit homework, complete eLearning as well as use social media and mobile apps for more informal learning.

The UK is one of the fastest growing EdTech sectors and is set to continue to grow thanks to the EdtechUK strategic body.

Key areas: Cloud technology | Big Data | Mobile apps

Big players:

Cirrus – Cloud e-assessment platform

Udemy

GoJimo

Ones to watch:

Blackbullion

Groupcall

iSAMS

School Explained

Further reading:

Strategic Body – Edtech

Edtech Magazine

EdTech and the future of education

FinTech_icon5. Fintech

What is it?

FinTech covers all the new products, services, technologies and business models in financial services. FinTech companies and start-ups aim to improve the out-dated technology and solve contemporary money problem, such as lending and consumer payment.

We’ve seen mobile banking apps, contactless card payments, and digital wallets and currencies like BitCoin disrupt the financial sector in recent years. Whereas initially most FinTech was developed for the back office of financial institutions, start-ups are now mostly selling their products directly to consumers and businesses.

London’s FinTech culture is world-leading and continues to be a hotbed of innovation. It is no wonder then that this sector continues to see sustained growth in investment.

Key areas: Payment | Peer-to-peer lending | Digital currencies

Big players:

YoYo Wallet

Aire

Ones to watch:

iZettle

Onescan from Ensyngia

Further reading:

The Wonderful World of Fintech

Block Chains & Fintech

Start-Up Bootcamp

 

FoodTech_icon6. FoodTech

What is it?

In recent years, the UK has witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of start-ups who are disrupting how food is selected, preserved, processed, packaged, sold and distributed. Their aim is to improve efficiency and tackle challenges around food waste.

One of the main areas for innovation is around food processing, changing the properties of the food to improve it whether that’s in preserving it, enhancing its qualities or making it more functional. There are even businesses that are creating entirely new flavours and products by investing in molecular gastronomy.

Technology has moved on from dining experiences and is now being applied in various areas from food delivery start-ups to free-from products to big data and apps that allow consumers to make more informed choices about the food they purchase and prepare.

Key areas: Preservation | Processing | Free-from

Big players:

Futerra

Winnow Solutions

Ones to watch:

Pulsetta

Whisk

Ingredient Batching Systems

Further reading:

Molecular Gastronomy

Innovation in Baking

Free-From Revolution & the R&D Powering It

HealthTech_icon7. HealthTech

What is it?

Healthcare is being transformed by innovative start-ups that are using technology to maintain and improve the health of users and solve problems within the industry.

HealthTech is concerned with improving overall patient care: this can be by making expensive equipment more accessible, investing in biomedecine right down to improving how records are organised and how appointments are made. Big data analysis is a key focus too, being used to prevent diseases, predict flu outbreaks and cut medical costs. As well as this, disruptive technology is enabling people to take control and responsibility for elements of their own care and live healthier lives.

Despite regulatory challenges and difficulties around adoption of the new tech within the healthcare system, the healthTech sector is booming and is an essential part of the future of the NHS.

Key areas: BioMedecine | Big data | Robotics

Big players:

Babylon Health

My Health Pal

Ones to watch:

KMS Solutions

Sphere Project

Further reading:

Why the UK needs increased investment in healthcare tech

Research And Disability: How R&D Could Help Millions With Health Conditions

Medical Innovation

 

GreenTech_icon8. GreenTech

What is it?

Similar to CleanTech, this sector focuses on technology that reduces the negative impact we have on the environment. It looks at renewable and alternative energy production, recycling and covers everything from longer-lasting light bulbs to generating electricity from plants.

The GreenTech sector has attracted socially-conscious investors and will continue to attract interest as global warming and diminishing natural resources make it essential to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

Key Areas: BioFuel | Renewable energy | Batteries

Big players:

Green Biologics

Ones to watch:

Kiwi Powered

Bio-bean

Further reading:

 Wind Turbines

Bristol’s Greentech Companies

InsurTech_icon9.InsurTech

What is it?

The insurance market is being transformed by digital technology and the innovative businesses operating in the InsurTech space.

Purchasing insurance is still fairly tiresome and weighed down with inefficiencies – InsurTech aims to put an end to this by using technology to improve the customer experience.

Insurance providers are looking to technologies that can help them add value to the consumer, build brand loyalty, as well as identify and capitalise on new revenue streams. Household insurers, for example, can receive real-time, sensor-sourced customer data and analytics to improve their offering.

InsurTech start-ups aim to empower the consumer by delivering insight into their risk and providing tailored and cheaper insurance. There are others that leverage the Internet of Things and big data to deliver value for consumers and insurers. Data gathered from wearables, vehicles and home sensors can allow for individualised underwriting and more tailored policies.

Key areas: MicroInsurance | Risk | Connected insurance

Big players:

AXA

Protect Your Bubble

Ones to watch:

Surely

SPIXII

Rightindem

Further reading:

Start Up Bootcamp – Insurance

InsurTech News

MADTech_icon10. MADTech / ADTech

What is it?

MADTech is the coming together of marketing, advertising and technology. It is a major growth area for tech where fresh marketing perspective and strategies combine to tackle issues around selling to a disengaged and intolerant audience.

Start-ups, agencies, app and software developers are using emerging technologies and big data to engage with consumers in ways that can add value and ultimately be meaningful. There are also those building tools and services to accelerate publisher revenue in a dramatically different online landscape.

With new technologies having the ability to disrupt the marketing landscape, it is an exciting area for investors and VCs.

Key areas: Predictive analytics | Geo-Targeting | Virtual reality

Big players:

Yieldify

Yavli

Ones to watch:

Sliide

Seenit

Further reading:

MADTech and Social Engagement

 

PropTech_icon11. PropTech

What is it?

The property sector, both commercial and residential, has been held back by inefficient and ultimately unhelpful processes. UK Proptech start-ups are all about solving problems around the buying and selling process and making the model more efficient and cost-effective for all involved.

A common aim is to improve the experience for the consumer through increased automation and providing them with better results via a deeper understanding of their needs. Some of the key areas are around improving consumers’ access to mortgages, finding new valuations, and selling or renting property.

London has become one of the central hubs for PropTech with start-ups seeing early-stage investments. Investment is expected to increase as more estate agents embrace Proptech.

Big players:

Zoopla

Trussle

Ones to watch:

Buzzmove 

Movebubble

eMoov

Further reading:

Financial Times on PropertyTech

PRTech_icon12. PRTech

What is it?

With the entire marketing world transformed by technology, PR is now looking to adopt a more programmatic, data-driven approach. Guesswork and observed data is no longer sufficient for businesses when it comes to measuring the success of a PR campaign.

PRTech covers everything from retargeting solutions to newswires to analytics to publishing platforms themselves. It looks at better connecting journalists with PRs, more intelligent press release targeting and cross-platform content distribution. Data is also being used to make PR activities better optimised, providing insights into what works and why. Data is now driving the key decisions and allowing agencies and businesses to see what is effective in terms of content and messaging.

Along with MADTech, the opportunities to make early-stage investments in PRTech are numerous.

Keys areas: Big Data | PR Analytics | Content Retargeting

Big players:

Oracle

Meltwater

Ones to watch:

Cision

Further reading:

PRTECH

 

RetailTech_icon13.  RetailTech

What is it?

From ending queueing (but we’re British?!) to utilising the latest digital technology in store and online, RetailTech is an exciting growth sector.

One of the primary areas within RetailTech is around tightening the connection between online and physical retail, linking ‘bricks and clicks’. This includes using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and beacon technology to serve personalised messages and information to shoppers when in store. Other start-ups are looking at how to deliver an online experience that better correlates to an in-store experience by using virtual reality (VR).

Many retail and ecommerce businesses are looking for deeper insights into the customer journey across all channels so that they can improve the customer experience and make their marketing more targeted. Creating a genuinely omnichannel experience is a primary goal of many retailers and a focus for RetailTech.

The field of payments, in particular ‘cashless’ transactions, is also a key focus with biometric technology, like iris scanning and facial recognition, being used to improve security around payment.

There are many exciting businesses and start-ups operating in the UK’s retail technology sector.

Key areas: Wearables (RFID/Beacon) | Payments | Biometrics | VR

Big players:

YoYo Wallet

Box Technologies

Astound Commerce UK

Ones to watch:

Adyen

Catalyst

Orderella

Loyalty Lion

Further reading:

Retail Technology

 

TravelTech_icon14. Traveltech

What is it?

The travel technology industry looks at reducing the cost and complexity of travel as well as delivering better experiences for travellers at each stage of their journey.

Innovators in travel and tourism are developing technologies to help connect consumers and travel providers, offering more choice and more affordable options in real time. Air BnB, Uber and Kayak have all dramatically changed the way we approach travel and new start-ups continue to disrupt the sector.

Tech is being developed around mobile bookings, user ratings and reviews, tours, expense management and predictive analytics platforms. There are also apps that unlock more authentic ‘local’ experiences with events and activities.

TravelTech is at a key point in its development, with exciting and innovative start-ups entering the space all the time. There are also existing successful start-ups that are rapidly growing and looking to acquire smaller start-ups to grow further still.  As the TravelTech landscape continues to evolve, it presents exciting opportunities for investors.

Key areas:  Mobile Booking | Predictive Analytics | IoT

Big players:

Viator

Expedia

Kayak

HomeAway

Ones to watch:

Click Travel

SideStory

Touriocity

Pathway GDS

Esplorio

Further reading:

Traveltech Lab

Holidays, hotels and the Internet of Things

Tech Developments in Travel & Tourism

ForrestBrown – helping innovative businesses grow

As R&D tax credit specialists, and yes that is all we do, we use the government’s R&D tax relief schemes to help innovative businesses fund their growth and disrupt their chosen markets. To find out more give us a call today for a free consultation.

Related posts