Supporting IoT start-ups

3 min read

Recent statistics suggest that the UK is still reluctant to invest in R&D but when it comes to investing in start-ups it remains a European hotspot, attracting almost a third of the $3billion in funding the European market receives each quarter.

According to figures from KPMG and CB Insights, VC backed investments so far this year are 11% higher than all such investments in 2014 and almost double the level of investment seen in 2013.

Internet and mobile focused start ups have tended to attract most investors’ attention, claiming more than two thirds of all deals.

Breed Reply, an advanced incubator that funds and supports the development of Internet of Things (IoT) start-ups in Europe and the USA, is a good example of the type of investor supporting these companies and has recently signed new agreements with three start-ups in the sectors of smart buildings, fitness and wellness.

Forming part of its “IoT Best in Breed 2”, a biannual initiative to identify new talent and product ideas, the company was approached by over 150 applications, out of which it selected three for their innovative solutions and market potential.

The total investment, which seems fairly typical of what’s happening in the UK at the moment, amounts to £2.4million with the incubator taking up to a 30 percent stake in the individual companies.

The three start-ups selected are enModus, Gymcraft and Inova Design.

enModus is a smart buildings technology company that, by leveraging the existing cable infrastructure in a building, is able to monitor and control any device that is mains powered.

A sports-tech company Gymcraft has developed a range of fitness-games, that are experienced through a 2d-monitor or in full immersion VR-goggles, while using any normal fitness machine.

Inova Design specialises in the design, development and commercialisation of body sensing solutions to boost an individual’s performance and prevent illness via a single miniature ear-based device which is non-invasive and provides continuous real-time data wirelessly to the end user.

“These companies suggest that there are plenty of opportunities in the UK; we are seeing many pockets of innovation,” explained Emanuele Angelidis, CEO of Breed Reply. “Our aim is to select the best start-ups and, in addition to funding, provide them with managerial, commercial and technological skills as well as offer a strong involvement in the development of their target markets."

“The support available for start-ups in the UK is significant. The market is full of institutions, meet-ups, incubators and accelerators – as well as traditional investors,” he suggests.

The UK also benefits from a having proactive bodies such as Innovate and the catapult network, according to Angelidis, which he believes demonstrates a growing government focus on new technology.

“While London can boast Tech City and a host of innovative businesses, innovation is certainly not limited to London.”

London is seen as an attractive hub because what it can offer is so comprehensive, for example the variety of investors that are available as well the city's global connections, but there are plenty of regional hubs, including ones in: Oxford, Manchester and Cambridge, which benefit from being connected to universities and which have build up particular specialist skills such as security applications and solutions.

According to Angelidis the start-ups recently backed, “further develop our portfolio and represent a remarkable combination of technical and business innovation. These new partnerships have helped to extend our presence in a number of key markets where IoT technologies are having a significant impact on products, services and business models – such as the facilities management market, the occupational healthcare sector and the fitness industry.”

The UK is seen as an important gateway into the US for start-ups but both it and Europe, in general, have begun to catch-up with the US when it comes to supporting new, innovative businesses.

“Innovation in European countries is a lot stronger than in the recent past; and while only a few years ago the US was really the only place to offer start-ups the support they needed – whether financial, help with accessing market or providing offices and facilities, that has changed.

“Europe is far more organised and start-ups no longer need to migrate to the US to gain access to the kind of support they need.”

There are criticisms that too many UK IoT companies fail to grow sufficiently to make an impact further afield.

“Small does not mean unsuccessful; in Italy the economy is made up of many small, successful companies,” says Angelidis.

“What an incubator can do is give a start-up the opportunity to grow and that is what we aim to provide.”

Breed Reply is an advanced incubator, that funds and supports the development of start-ups on the Internet of Things (IoT) in Europe and the USA. Based in London, with operational offices in Germany and Italy, it supports entrepreneurs by helping to bring new ideas to the market. This is done via three fundamental services: funding at "seed" and "early stage" level; considerable support with significant know how transfer of business, managerial and technological expertise; and medium-term involvement to establish start-ups in their market.