Internet of wins: how IoT Tribe is accelerating startups

Kane Fulton, April 23, 2019 4 min read

First ran in Yorkshire in 2017, IoT Tribe is an equity-free Internet of Things accelerator that helps startups make vital industry connections needed to take their products to the next level. In addition to being an accelerator, it also sees itself as an “ecosystem builder”.

In March, nine new startups joined IoT Tribe’s second cohort, which as part of a core programme lasting 12 weeks are being mentored by engineers-in-residence on topics such as product development, market testing and investor readiness. The accelerator once again takes place at Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre (DMC), where startups from Russia and Spain have joined ones from the UK.

IoT Tribe recently held a workshop at the 3MBIC (Buckley Innovation Centre) in Huddersfield to connect stakeholders in the IoT space – from Censis in Glasgow to Liverpool’s Sensor City – with founders on this year’s cohort.

We attended the event to find out how IoT Tribe’s new group has benefitted from the accelerator so far.

Mike Faulkes – Iotec (cybersecurity for IoT devices)

We’ve been on other accelerator programmes  – such as GCHQ’s Cyber Accelerator programme last year – where we got technical validation. The difference between what IoT Tribe is doing and what everybody else is doing is that IoT Tribe isn’t just concentrating on the mentoring side which, like a lot of companies, isn’t required for us.

Instead, they’re concentrating on commercial contracts and proof-of-concept projects. The reason that we applied to IoT Tribe is because of its links – particularly in this area with places such as the AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre).

Today’s event is an example of that. Rather than me being a little company in Sheffield that nobody’s heard of, I can come as part of IoT Tribe and therefore have conversations. After that it’s down to me, but I’ve had the introduction. And the introductions we’re getting are absolutely first class.

Asim Majid – Smartia (AI for industrial applications)

IoT Tribe has been fantastic for us. In terms of mentors, we’ve had access to Fujitsu and experts in the area of IP. We’ve spent a lot of time with other people in the IoT Tribe cohort – within a week we had done a collaboration with Iotec which provides server security for our product. Building partnerships has been big for us.

In terms of networking, we are working on our first pilot with a company in Sheffield which we never would have got without joining IoT Tribe. It’s got us to these kind of events where we’ve had interest; for example, we’re talking to places like Huddersfield University and the NPL (National Physics Lab).

We didn’t initially join IoT Tribe to find investors – we wanted to find manufacturers to help us with proof-of-concept of our product, which is coming out in four weeks’ time. We needed a few real-life examples to work on and IoT Tribe provided them. Now, the extra benefit for us is that we’re getting ready for investment and are putting everything in place for that.

Hopefully in May we’ll be pitching in London to all the big investors. Without IoT Tribe that would not have been possible, so it’s all been fantastic from our point of view.

Vihtori Lehtonen – Missing Link (wireless cybersecurity)

IoT Tribe been good for us in terms of connections. Other benefits have included being featured on social media, and the accelerator has helped me understand and develop my business roadmap. As much as I trust my workers, I’m the company’s founder at the end of the day and somebody has to know the big picture, the grand plan, and IoT Tribe has also helped me understand all of that.

From a tech point of view, it’s helped me talk to people who aren’t so techy and make the product appeal in a certain way. For example, pitching to an investor and helping them to understand the benefits without going too far into the technical side. They’re more interested in how it’s going to make money.

Jose Camera – Triditive (additive manufacturing)

For us IoT Tribe has been quite interesting because it’s been like a launchpad. For a long time we were looking at how to enter the UK market, which has been difficult for us as a small Spanish company. We have disruptive tech, which is what the people running the accelerator were looking for. We applied to get into the Barnsley DMC tech hub, which has a very complete network that can help you grow very fast and develop your tech, network or whatever it is that you’re looking for. The DMC has proved a big and useful facility for us to start our company.

Dr Noukhez Ahmed – HMU Design (digital twin technology)

IoT Tribe has opened a lot of doors for us. They’re helping us to improve the business and take it further by introducing us to investors such as Capital Enterprise. We’ve also received useful information on public funding, including how to get investment to start our companies. It’s been really good. They’ve also helped us with aspects such as mentorship, providing us with mentors who can take us in specific directions and help grow our businesses.

Community, Yorkshire