12 of the most exciting tech companies in Bristol

Bristol and Bath’s tech sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK and a hotspot for cleantechs. Here are some of the most exciting startups to keep an eye on

It has been a maritime trade hub for centuries, but it’s tech companies in Bristol that are making waves today.

Alongside Gloucester, Swindon and Bath, Bristol makes up the ‘Silicon Gorge’ tech hub, consisting of high-tech research companies. Bristol and Bath’s tech sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK, with just under 5,000 tech companies. 

According to Beauhurst, the highest growth in the city’s tech scene comes from SaaS, accounting for 31 per cent of tech businesses, mirroring the trend country wide.

But the fastest growing companies span a range of sectors. Bristol has strong green credentials, with its fair share of cleantechs and was the first city in the UK to be named European Green Capital. In the wider West of England region, there are 25,000 cleantechs and the region has already committed to becoming net zero by 2030.

Helping many of these startups grow is growth network TechSPARK and Bristol University-led incubator SETsquared, which is a partnership between the universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. To date, it has supported over 5,000 entrepreneurs, helping them raise £4.4 billion in investment.

Complimenting these exciting startups are established companies such as energy tech firm Baker Hughes and unicorn Ovo Energy. International tech companies which have moved to Bristol include US firm Niantic, which makes VR games, Nokia, Ultrapleap and Anaplan. In May 2023, engineering firm Dyson also announced plans to build a £100 million R&D hub in the city to be home to hundreds of software and AI engineers.

The most active investor of Bristol’s startups is Seedrs, while angel investors Bristol Private Equity Club, Parkwalk, WebStart Bristol and Molten Ventures have also backed multiple startups in the city.

List of most exciting start-ups in Bristol

#1 – Rovco

Rovco has developed underwater vehicles to inspect sea infrastructure and map the seabed. Their products automate offshore wind services, including surveying and data reporting to customers to help with the design, construction, maintenance and performance of offshore wind farms. They also help with the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure.

The company was founded in 2016 and has raised over £30 million in equity investment since then.

#2 – LettUs Grow

LettUs Grow is developing technology that allows food to grow without the need for soil. It also allows food to grow faster, while using less water, pesticides and fertilisers. Instead, roots are suspended in the air to give them more access to oxygen and irrigated with a nutrient-dense mist in a method called aeroponics. Types of food which can be grown using the technology include leafy greens, herbs and microgreens.

The company has raised £5 million to date, according to 2022 Beauhurst data.

#3 – Graphcore

University of Bristol spinout Graphcore has raised the most in equity funding of all Bristol’s tech startups and is one the UK’s unicorns. Founded in 2016, it produces semiconductors for use by AI developers, although it has struggled to take full advantage of the AI boom. It is reported by The Telegraph to be currently looking for potential buyers, with rumoured interested parties including OpenAI, SoftBank and Arm.

#4 – Immersive Labs

One of the UK’s unicorns, Immersive Labs has shot up in growth since its founding in 2017. The start-up gives cybersecurity training to workforces through the gamification of real-world scenarios, so they are better prepared to prevent and respond to cyber threats.

According to Tracxn, the company has raised $189 million (£149.2 million) to date over four funding rounds.

#5 – Focal Point Positioning

A spinout from the University of Cambridge but now based in Bristol, Focal Point Positioning is developing technology to allow the tracking of mobile devices not reachable via GPS tracking using advanced physics and machine learning.

According to 2022 Beauhurst data, the company has raised £26.2 million in equity investment to date.

#6 – Anaphite

Chemistry lab Anaphite is developing an EV battery manufacturing process which it is hoping will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. The nanotechnology company’s materials improve battery performance and reduce the cost and environmental impact of the manufacturing process. The startup, which was founded in 2018, was granted £2.5 million by the government in May 2023 and has raised around £5.5 million to date.

#7 – Deazy

Deazy, also based in Bristol, is a marketplace that matches businesses with development teams for projects. Clients initially book a call with Deazy to discuss development requirements. This is followed by a review of developer and team proposals before project specs are shared and onboarding of team members begin. In November 2023, the startup was named as the 40th fastest growing tech company in the UK in Deloitte’s Fast 50 list and has raised £6.25 million to date.

#8 – Matter

Matter develops tech to capture, harvest and recycle microplastics from rivers and oceans. One of its patented filtration products fits into washing machines to ensure 90 per cent of microfibres from washing doesn’t end up in waterways.

The startup raised $10 million (£7.9 million) in Series A funding in August 2023 and is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio.

#9 – Vertical Aerospace

Stephen Fitzpatrick founded Vertical Aerospace in 2015 after founding unicorn Ovo Energy in 2009. Vertical Aerospace is a carbon-neutral aeroplane manufacturer which aims to create a future where we drive electric aircrafts for personal travel. Its flagship prototype model, the VX4, has a range of 100 miles, can reach a speed of 150mph and produces zero emissions. It can also carry four passengers (plus the pilot).

#10 – Open Bionics

Open Bionics is a 3D printing company offering prosthetics for amputees. Founded in 2014, their custom-made arms use sensors to detect muscular contractions in the forearm to dictate hand movements. For its ‘Hero Arm’, it has partnered with the likes of Disney and Marvel to make arms in the style of superheroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man. The startup has raised £5.5 million to date.

#11 – Drift Energy

Drift Energy’s tech has allowed it to create the world’s first green energy sailing vessels which produce green hydrogen while out at sea. The boats use an algorithm to chart the best route where there’s the most amount of wind and then store energy through turbines and the kinetic energy produced from the boat moving on the water. Once the tanks are nearly full with energy, the boats will port to offload or dock to a larger ‘mothership’.

#12 – Perceptual Robotics

Founded in 2016, University of Bristol spinout Perceptual Robotics carries out inspections on structures such as wind turbines using drones – so engineers aren’t put at risk. Data from the drones is collected in minutes, which is then used to perform predictive analysis and can be inspected on a web-based dashboard for review. It is based in Athens as well as its Bristol HQ.

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Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke

Dom is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various lifestyle...