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updated 10:55 PM BST, Apr 23, 2015
Technology and life sciences news from the Cambridge cluster

Cambridge startups getting on with the job off radar

  • Written by Ben Fountain
  • Published in The Cluster

qiqqa at TVC2011With a record of played two, won two over the last few days, former derivatives trader and current PhD student, Jimme Jardine of Qiqqa is on a hot streak in pitching competitions and following his victory at last Thursday’s TVC 2011, he will have the opportunity to step up a division.

Coming hot on the heels of Qiqqa’s win in the £5k grand finale of CUE’s Entrepreneur’s Challenge the day before, the prize for winning at TVC includes a three month placement at Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play - as well as a further three grand in cash from Red Gate Software and the equivalent in legal services, provided by SNR Denton.

When we spoke to qiqqa before their TVC pitch, they said they planned to pump the bulk of their initial £5k win into marketing in a bid to further build the userbase of their research management software tool, something that could be considerably fast-tracked from a Silicon Valley base.

While Qiqqa has quite rightly grabbed most attention, the event also served to throw a spotlight on a number of Cambridge startups that have so far kept a pretty low profile.

At a time when talk of a bubble is increasing in pitch and is even being explored in stunning, lime green infographic format (thanks to @simonbayly for the link), it is particularly refreshing that companies like mobile learning startup, Hubflow are prepared to participate in a £3k pitching competition, having already signed up at least three household names to pilot its technology.

It could also be viewed as an indictment of the lack of availability of funding for tech startups in the UK, but most value the platform, the profile and the practice that such public competitions give them as of at least equal value to any cash on offer in any case.

The tech startup showcase was a key feature of TVC 2011 with 22 startups from around the world provided a platform to exhibit their technology and engage face to face with investors, media and potential partners and even team members. Attendees were encouraged to vote for the five best, which were then invited to pitch live at the conference in front of an investors panel.

To show that Cambridge seems to be building a new breed of startup that concentrates on product development and customer traction ahead of PR, we have complied a brief primer on the local startups to pitch at TVC 2011, starting with the finalists, in the order in which they pitched. The timings of each individual pitch on the video are also listed.

The Startup Showcase Twitter list curated by Cutec can be found here.

Pitches video

Timing: 3:19 - 9:23
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/hubflow
Pitching: Nick Grant

Hubflow has developed a mobile learning platform for enterprise to deliver short packages of learning to mobile employees and time-pressured professionals.


  • TK Maxx, Homebase and PepsiCo already trialling the platform. Full roll-out planned for TK Maxx within the next month.
  • Platform currently works on Blackberry and iOS and is at protoype stage for Windows 7 and Android.
  • Forecasts revenues of £50k for next quarter and is seeking £100k investment, providing an 18 month runway.

Input Dynamics logoInputDynamics
Timing: 9:46 - 16:39
Pitching: Giovanni Bisutti

InputDynamics has developed a low-cost, software-based system that can both add touch functionality to feature phones and added extra functionality outside of the touchscreen on smartphones.


  • Has signed a software evaluation agreement with one of the top three handset manufacturers in the world.
  • Pursuing a licensing model, as well as development of premium smartphone apps.
  • Applications outside mobile phones include toys and low-cost touch panels in industry.

nova parking logoNova Parking
Timing: 16:51 - 23:30
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/novaparking
Pitching: Hugo Vincent

A low-cost, low-power, low-maintenance sensor-based system that detects whether a parking space is occupied and acts as a payment gateway to potentially automate parking enforcement. Value-added services include real-time maps of parking spaces, by-the-minute charging and alerts if your ticket is about to expire. Initially targeting parking at railway stations.

  • Has developed working prototypes of the system
  • Seeking to raise £400k to fast-track commercialisation
  • Sensors can be supplied and fitted for £17 each for orders of 1,000 or more. Base station to service 200 spaces costs £60.

playmob-logoPlay Mob
Timing: 23:45 - 29:36
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/theplaymob
Pitching: Jude Ower

Developers of social games for facebook and mobile where in-game actions link to real world good causes, providing a new revenue stream for charities.

  • About to launch signature title, WeMonster to support reforestation.
  • Following launch of first game, plans to launch platform which will allow games developers to link virtual goods in their games to real-world causes, giving charities a new revenue stream and brands a new way to showcase their CSR activities.
  • Raised undisclosed angel round this year and also funding from US government.

qiqqa logoQiqqa
Timing: 29:55 -
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/qiqqa
Pitching: James Jardine

Developers of cloud-based research management software aimed (in the first instance) at PhD students.

  • Seeking funding to build recommendation engine to aggregate and repackage knowledge for new audiences and also flag the most relevant and useful academic papers.
  • Launched Qiqqa Premium for corporates a month ago, secured $500 worth of sales to date.

Other Cambridge companies in the Startups showcase

DataGiving logoDataGiving
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/datagiving

Currently in private beta, DataGiving is a publishing platform that aims to provide “easily accessible, searchable, and reliable information on voluntary, charity and community work around the world.”

Founded in 2010 by Dr Sobia Hamid, having won the TEDxCam Hackathon event in April last year.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/_eight19
Cambridge University spin-out Eight19 is developing printable low-cost plastic solar cells for high volume markets. It is the third company to be built around the work of Prof Sir Richard Friend, following in the footsteps of Cambridge Display Technology and Plastic Logic.

Current investors include the Carbon Trust, Rhodia SA, TTP and the University of Cambridge.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/mycamtutor
Set up by a team from Cambridge University, myCambridgeTutor is preparing to launch an internet based tutoring service for high school students that gives them access to a pool of hand-picked, high quality tutors from the university.

The service will include video streaming and an ‘interactive whiteboard’ and will be available at an introductory rate of £20 for an hour in July.

From the team that brought you CSR, Neul plans to be the wireless service provider for the ‘internet of everything.’ Neul just launched its first product - the world’s first production radio system to utilise whitespace, the part of the spectrum vacated by analogue TV stations.

Applications are being touted in machine-to-machine communications, local broadband delivery, smart metering and much besides and beyond.

smart architects logoSmart Architects

Founded by former banking security specialist, Dr Dan Cvrcek, Smart Architects is preparing to launch its first product, sCrib - a small, portable USB device which stores ultra secure passwords. The company says the aim is to make passwords secure, fun and easy to use.

Smart Architects is looking for volunteers to help test the product and a full launch is being planned later this year.

studentreadinglists logoStudentReadingLists
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SRLists
As the name suggests, StudentReadingLists website aims to provide a central platform for course reading lists for students – and improve the communication between all parties involved.

Cambridge University’s Judge Business School has agreed to use the system for its 2011 MBA program and the startup plans to raise money for charities through its service.