Meet the Rising Stars semi-finalists: the Midlands’ top three startups

Esme Caulfield, January 2, 2019 5 min read

We recently announced the 33 startups through to the Rising Stars Semi-Final in January. Spread across 11 regions, our semi-finalists represent the most innovative, exciting early-stage companies the UK has to offer. This time, we’re taking a look at our Midlands-based startups.

Movement in the Midlands

The Midlands is at the heart of the UK, housing a population of more than 11 million and boasting £222bn GVA (more than 14% of the UK’s total), according to Midlands Innovation. Known for its expertise in manufacturing and advanced engineering, the region has big ambitions to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development in order to grow a high-tech, high-skilled economy.

These ambitions translate to a truly nurturing environment for tech companies – digital tech turnover for the Midlands came in at £7.7bn in 2017. Initiatives like the Midlands Engine Investment Fund – which supports businesses with loans, proof-of-concept and equity funding – and the region’s eight government-designated Enterprise Zones are designed to give companies a boost. Meanwhile, the Midlands’ 20 universities (including four in the Global Top 100) and 22 science parks produce top talent and cutting-edge research.

But it’s the tech-filled towns and cities where things are really happening. In Birmingham, support from Silicon Canal and Innovation Birmingham, along with coding bootcamps, investment funds and infrastructure, have resulted in a flourishing digital tech ecosystem. Nottingham’s vibrant tech scene has benefitted from the city’s strong cultural identity and rich talent pool, helped by Tech Nottingham’s student outreach programme. Meanwhile Leicester’s cultural quarter is being transformed into a hub for creative and digital tech startups, with Leicester Startups at its heart. But innovation spreads far beyond this, with Lincoln, Coventry, Wolverhampton and others adding to the region’s tech prowess.

With this in mind, let’s meet our Midlands-based semi-finalists, Birmingham’s Rateaco Limited, Nottingham’s Deep Branch BioTech and Lincoln’s Tended.

Rateaco Limited t/a FeeLYX: Manage your financial risk, better

For many financial lenders in the market, time spent processing financial data to make a more informed decision on credit risk is a major issue. Award-winning data analytics startup Rateaco (FeeLYX) tackles this issue, using AI software to reduce the time and cost it takes financial lenders to complete their financial due diligence and manage their credit risk.

Born in November 2015, and having been through two leading accelerator programmes, NatWest Entrepreneurial Spark and Barclays Eagle Labs, FeeLYX is an artificial intelligence engine that provides a data analytics service for the financial services sector. It anonymises all data on its system, creating a single global marketplace for financial benchmarking and analytics for lenders. This independent marketplace approach means the company gains the insight from all the data uploaded and activity conducted by others, creating unlimited combinations of valuable data insight.

Clients can use the service to analyse previous and current financial performance, compare and benchmark that performance against other businesses within their own portfolio and externally, and run scenarios to model future performance and the impacts of business decisions. This gives them better insight on the profitability of their existing and potential customers and the ability to service debt funding, as well as highlighting future needs before they even occur. While the aim is to become a global ‘one stop shop’ for financial lending analytics, as a cloud-based SaaS platform, FeeLYX can also scale into other sectors in the future.

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

Deep Branch BioTech: Transforming the polluters of today into the producers of tomorrow

By 2050, humanity must reach net zero carbon emissions while securing food, housing and infrastructure for 9 billion people. Biofuels and renewables will help to address future transport and energy needs, but almost 10% of emissions come from industries like cement, which are fundamentally committed to CO2 production. Meanwhile, global consumption of animal products is rising and suppliers can’t sustainably meet the current demand for animal feed protein, the production of which causes ecological problems like deforestation and overfishing.

Founded in July 2018, Deep Branch BioTech’s award-winning carbon capture solution solves both of these problems. The company, an alumnus of the BioCity DEVELOP accelerator programme, provides a carbon reduction service to cement producers, capturing carbon dioxide in industrial waste gas, which lowers their carbon-tariff expenditure. This produces SCP, a clean, nutritious and sustainable single cell protein that is then sold as a sustainable animal feed alternative to soy and fishmeal.

Its wealth of experience in gas fermentation, and focus on customer jobs, pains and gains to help shape process requirements, mean Deep Branch BioTech’s underlying technology is a frontrunner in terms of viability and future potential. And, as carbon tariffs rise and emitters actively seek solutions – customer discovery identified several large multinationals open to carbon reduction and sustainable SCP – the business is in a prime position for growth. Having created truly scalable technology, Deep Branch BioTech has other exciting things in the pipeline too, including tools for bespoke nutritional tailoring to its feed clients and the expansion of its product range beyond protein to other feed components in the future.

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

Tended: Safety made simple

Founded in April 2017 and an alumnus of the IoT Tribe North accelerator programme, personal safety technology startup Tended creates intelligent personal safety wearables and monitoring systems that provide all-round, affordable safety solutions for individuals and businesses.

Tended has built an innovative combination of machine learning and patent-pending wearable technology into its wrist-worn devices, which monitor a user’s movements and detect abnormalities that could indicate a potential accident – be it a fall, impact, period of no movement or missed check in. If an accident is detected, and the user doesn’t respond to the safety check on their device, an alert, including their GPS location and health data, is automatically sent to the wearer’s pre-set emergency contacts.

Tended has ambitious plans for the future, and anticipates developing more cutting-edge safety solutions and features as new technology emerges. The company’s first product, the Tended Protect, was released for pre-orders on the company’s ecommerce platform in early 2018, and it’s currently commencing pilots with some of the UK’s largest corporations – including Nestle, Willmott Dixon, Buildbase and the Lincolnshire Co-operative – to develop a second, commercial AI safety solution for lone and mobile workers. As well as growing the team to include more engineers and designers to develop more enhanced safety solutions, Tended plans on expanding into developing countries to work with local communities to provide safety solutions for those most at risk.

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


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.

Midlands, Rising Stars, Early Stage