Meet the Rising Stars semi-finalists: the South West’s top three startups

Esme Caulfield, January 14, 2019 5 min read

It’s only a couple of days to go until the highly anticipated Rising Stars Semi-Final. We’ve been finding out more about the 33 early-stage startups dotted around the UK that were selected to pitch at the event on on 16–17 January in Manchester. Last but certainly not least, it’s our semi-finalists from the South West.

The savvy South West

From Cornwall all the way to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, the South West is brimming with digital tech companies – in fact, there were 13,465 of them operating in 2018. Technology is the area’s fastest-growing sector, with the South West reporting a digital tech turnover of over £2.4bn in 2017, and employment in the sector reaching 78,000.

According to Tech South West, the region is keen to showcase itself as an emerging, world-leading hub for technology and innovation. This aim is seemingly well founded as, when it comes to research and development, the South West is leading the way in areas that are critical to the future wellbeing of both the economy and the planet, such as climate science, marine technology, environmental science, agri-tech, sustainable energy and aeronautical engineering.

At the centre of this innovation are the South West’s many towns and cities. Whether it’s Bristol’s engineering heritage and game-changing funding opportunities, Plymouth’s STEM credentials (Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM) and historical support for social enterprise, Exeter’s leading tech initiatives (Tech Exeter and Digital Exeter) and incubators (SETsquared), Bournemouth’s expertise in visual effects, animation and cybersecurity, or Truro and Redruth’s strong sense of community, each cluster brings something different to the South West’s diverse tech ecosystem.

Below, we discover more about our last three Rising Stars semi-finalists. From the South West, it’s Bristol’s Verinym and Metasonics, and Ringwood’s PeopleMatter.

Verinym Ltd: Trust, but verify

Trust is at the core of many business processes. Incorporated in September 2018, and an alumnus of the Oracle Scaleup Ecosystem, GCP Startup Program and SetSquared, fintech company Verinym instantly creates simple, auditable, cost-effective trust with absolute minimum data – enabling users to ‘trust, but verify’. Customers become custodians of their data, which minimises liability. The company’s vision is to apply its ‘trust, but verify’ principle to all forms of data, starting with digital identity.

Verinym delivers trust as a service through three key products, which together combine to create best-in-class verification, blockchain tracing and data escrow. TrustId offers know your customer (KYC) and identity and verification services, TrustTrace is a blockchain source of funds tracing for anti-money laundering compliance, and TrustEase provides instant, reusable KYC and identity management, with customers in full control of their data. They’re built for enterprise but when it comes to trust as a service, Verinym believes one size doesn’t fit all, so the solutions can be tailored to suit each client – end-to-end or modular, global or single jurisdiction.

The company’s approach brings a number of benefits. Clients can minimise data liability and retain audit capability, tackle identify fraud, and improve reporting and compliance. The technology works invisibly with a company’s existing web and mobile application footprint and offers open standards, being simple and secure while remaining platform agnostic. Verinym is truly harmonising regulation and technology, working with European regulators and policymakers, financial institutions and technology partners to shape the future of digital identity and money.

To find out more, follow them on Twitter – @VerinymHQ.

Metasonics: Do more with sound

Award-winning startup Metasonics is developing the next generation of customised, scalable acoustic metamaterials, providing enhanced control over sound and changing the way people use and interact with it. Doing for sound what liquid crystal displays and projectors have done for light, it takes a single speaker and makes it sound like an array of several thousand speakers. The technology will enable step changes to be made in a diverse range of ultrasonic applications within the consumer, architectural, environmental, medical and non-destructive evaluation markets.

Founded in October 2018, the company has developed two technical roadmaps where it imagines its solutions being successful. The first is in areas where ultrasound is currently a leading technology, but where Metasonics’ solution can drastically undercut the expense. The second is as a pioneer in advancing applications that, to date, have been inaccessible due to cost and complexity. Currently, close-to-market applications of the technology include separating in-car audio for drivers and passengers, and a range of new ultrasound capabilities for health wearables and smart appliances.

An alumnus of the SETsquared accelerator programme, the company is unique in introducing an extremely cost effective, reconfigurable, compact and scalable solution that will be disruptive to a broad range of applications. Looking to the future, Metasonics is working on multiple proof-of-concept prototypes to showcase its technical abilities and grow its patent portfolio, and is planning on developing joint projects with industry partners, ultimately sparking customers’ imagination to the world of possibilities enabled by its technology.

To find out more, watch the company’s video pitch for the Rising Stars competition below, or follow them on Twitter – @MetasonicsCo.

PeopleMatter: Helping intelligent data create wellbeing for everyone

Research by The Mental Health Foundation shows that around 50% of people won’t report mental health issues. Founded in January 2018, PeopleMatter is on a mission to build healthier workplaces, where everyone has the opportunity to be their best self. The company aims to positively impact people by helping them to understand, take control and improve their overall mental wellness. It does this by using intelligent technology that analyses digital communication and behavioural patterns to identify an individual’s risk of burnout, and to provide insight on how their working environment may be impacting their mental health.

Using machine learning, the safe online platform gets to know people’s personal attributes and working habits, offering personalised recommendations – like a fitbit for mental health. Containing highly-sensitive information, the platform is designed to protect the privacy of people and complies with data protection legislation. Users can own their data, meaning they can’t be identified by anyone who uses the platform. Alongside the platform service, the company also works with enterprises to offer macro-insights on culture and real-time dashboards for how their workforce is feeling and why, giving them the capabilities they need to build thriving cultures.

PeopleMatter offers something different to the market, having developed the only innovative wellness technology that can provide a survey-free, real-time assessment of burnout risk. It’s also unique in focusing its solution on helping all people as end users, with the ambition to shift the narrative to ‘mental health for all’. The company has recently started a research partnership programme with two enterprises, a FTSE100 business and a medium-sized global company, which will help take its offering to the next level.

To find out more, watch the company’s video pitch for the Rising Stars competition below, or follow them on Twitter – @PeopleMatterLtd.


The Rising Stars Semi-Final will take place on 16–17 January 2019 at Barclays Eagle Labs in Manchester, where the semi-finalists will receive pitch training before presenting to our expert judging panel. Only 20 of these companies will make it through to the Grand Final at London’s Rich Mix on 5 March 2019.

Stay updated on the Rising Stars competition by signing up to our newsletter below, or following @TechNation on Twitter.

We’d like to thank our Rising Stars sponsors, Microsoft, Bing, BDO Drive and TLT LLP.

South West, Rising Stars, Early Stage