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Rising Stars: Top five early-stage tech companies in SW revealed

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 10:19

Tech Nation has today announced the 5 South West Regional Winners of its fourth Rising Stars competition, which recognises the brightest and best early-stage tech scaleups from every area of the UK. In total, 55 fast-growing tech companies from across the UK have been named this year’s Regional Winners - 5 within each UK region. Previous years’ Rising Stars Regional Winners have included Selazar (from Northern Ireland), Circa5000 (from the North West) and SeedLegals (from London), who have received a combined £33.79mn in investment to date, demonstrating the ability of the Rising Stars Regional Winners to scale quickly, and their potential to become the UK’s tech ‘unicorns’ (companies with valuations of $1bn+) of the future.

These Regional Winners have been selected by a panel of over 50 judges (industry experts with extensive experience in starting and scaling tech businesses) based on their value proposition, competitive advantage, market traction, team experience and potential to scale.

This year’s South West Regional Winners are Exeter-based Intelligent AI, Bristol-based companies All About The Cooks, itsettled, and Lumio, and Latchley-based xigxag. These companies, the majority of which hail from Bristol - the UK’s third largest tech hub - are working to transform a range of different industries, including createch, ecommerce, fintech and insurtech, and have an average of 6 employees.

The South West tech sector is growing

The success of these early-stage South West companies reflects the strength and fast growth of the tech market in the South West overall.
According to data from Tech Nation, the South West is now home to 3 tech ‘unicorns’ (companies valued at over $1bn), up from 2 in 2020, and has received $317mn in VC investment funding this year, as of November 2021.

In particular, tech job creation is growing rapidly in the South West, rising by 113% in the past year (from 62,751 in 2020 to 133,451 in H1 of 2021).

This year’s Regional Winners demonstrate that the tech sector is growing quickly across all corners of the UK.

An impressive 69% of the 55 Regional Winners are generating revenue, and 38% have at least one female founder. 27% of the Regional Finalists are Pre-Seed, 29% have no previous rounds of funding, and 36% are Seed funded. As for what’s next, 49% of the Regional Finalists are looking for Seed Funding, while 34% are looking to raise Series A.

The 55 Regional Winners are a mixture of B2B and B2C and 49% have previously attended an accelerator. 73% of the Regional Winners plan to expand internationally in the next 12 months, with 58% wanting to expand into the USA.

Rising Stars’ mission

Going forward, these 5 promising, fast-growth South West tech companies will continue to be supported by the UK tech ecosystem as they are inducted into the Tech Nation alumni network. Recognising and empowering all of the Regional Winners of the Rising Stars competition is at the core of Tech Nation’s mission to fuel the growth of tech scaleups who are helping us create a stronger economy, society and future.

Esme Caulfield, Competitions Lead at Tech Nation, said: “With Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition now in its fourth year, it’s amazing to see so many inspiring companies innovating to change our world for the better. This year, we reached the milestone of 1000 applications to Rising Stars (and surpassed it!). We had a record number of applications this year - 380 (nearly 400) - and we also saw our first applications - and our first Regional Winner - from the spacetech sector, (Elestial, from the Midlands) and agritech (Cropsafe, from Northern Ireland). From revolutionising modern healthcare and disrupting the finance sector to transforming education and tackling climate change, each of these fast-growing regional early-stage tech companies is helping us improve our economy, society and quality of life. This year’s Regional Winners represent the brightest and the best of UK tech and talent, and I’m excited to see what they do next.”

Intelligent AI

Anthony Peake, CEO of Intelligent AI, said: “Intelligent AI is proud to be selected as the South West Regional Winner in Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition for our AI and Satellite enabled Intelligent Risk Management Platform. We have had a fantastic 2021 with huge interest from global insurers, brokers and commercial property owners and being a Rising Stars winner will help us to increase our profile and reach more global customers in 2022. We have been very fortunate in the South West, with support from the SetSquared Exeter Incubator, The Exeter Science Park and from the University of Exeter. There is a fantastic innovation community across the South West that we have been able to call upon for collaboration, research, mentoring and investment.”


Kelli Fairbrother, Co-founder and CEO of xigxag, said: “At xigxag, we're leading a revolution in digital reading and shaping the future of books. It's a tremendous honour to be a Rising Stars 4.0 South West Regional Winner. Rising Stars is an important launchpad for innovative UK startups, recognising great ideas and the teams that bring them to life. As an independent Cornwall-based
business, challenging the dominance of big tech in digital books, we appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate how pioneering tech is being developed in the southwest.”


David Beer, Director and Chief Commercial Officer at itsettled, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy. 3.5m trade on credit and COVID has negatively impacted over 1.5m of these. The late payment epidemic means they are owed in excess of £65bn. We are honoured that itsettled has been chosen as a Tech Nation Rising Star to help solve this economic challenge. With their support and reach, our cash flow and credit management platform will help create a sustainable market recovery and stop UK SMEs from failing.”


Charlie Richardson, CEO of Lumio, said: “Open finance is still in its nascent stage but this recognition from Tech Nation as a Regional Winner of Rising Stars underlines that we are now at a tipping point for the industry - with Lumio at the forefront of delivering a real positive impact on people's finances. Our core focus here as we move forward is going to be 100% built around how we can be the most efficient company in the industry at using data to move customers' money into the right accounts, at the right time. And our mission is to become Europe's most personalised finance app for people to grow their money.”

All About The Cooks

Claire Ladkin, Founder of All About The Cooks, said: “At All About The Cooks, we believe that, one day, it will be possible to buy home cooked food, from local people, wherever you are in the world. We are already doing this in Bristol and have ambitious plans to scale in 2022. To be recognised as a Rising Star Regional Winner will give us an extra boost as we seek to grow our team, attract investors and tell our stories, well beyond our own region in 2022. The biggest beneficiaries though will be the communities we serve, because All About The Cooks creates a massive social impact, moving money around within communities through the sharing of good food.”

More information about Rising Stars at

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