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

Esme Caulfield, January 4, 2019 4 min read

Before Christmas, we announced the 33 startups through to the Rising Stars Semi-Final. Spread all the way from Scotland to the South of England, our semi-finalists have been recognised as the UK’s most innovative and exciting early-stage companies. Next up we take a closer look at our Welsh competitors.

Leading the way in Wales

Offering everything from world-leading innovation in electronics to a fast-growing cybersecurity industry, Wales provides an environment for tech companies to thrive. Turning over more than £1bn and employing 45,000 people in 2017, the country’s digital tech sector is going from strength to strength. In fact, there were 3,605 companies operating in the sector in 2018, including over 400 electronics businesses and more than 250 telecoms-related businesses.

Wales is not only one of the most secure places in the UK to establish a tech startup, it’s also home to Europe’s largest Tier 3 Data Centre, which offers the finest technical backup. And, with the launches of Cyber Wales and Tech Wales, things are progressing even further, as companies come together with universities and public sector bodies to tackle the major challenges facing the industry and promote the country’s tech capability, both nationally and internationally.

Meanwhile, supportive initiatives like the Coworking Collective, a collaboration between some of Wales’ largest co-working spaces, and the Development Bank of Wales, which provides sustainable, effective finance for businesses in the region, are helping to boost the growth of the tech and creative sectors.

Here, we’ll take a look at our Welsh semi-finalists, Newport’s Surple, Wrexham’s Inspirze and Pontypridd’s miFuture Group.

Surple: Changing the way people see energy

Energy consumption is an ongoing cause for concern in every organisation. With rising prices, tighter legislation and ever-increasing carbon reduction targets, companies need to adapt. Founded in January 2018, award-winning startup Surple helps organisations turn energy into an advantage by improving efficiencies, engaging staff, and reducing their bottom lines. And, in a society where a third of consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, it also helps companies appeal to the growing demographic interested in ethical working practices.

An alumnus of the Alacrity Foundation booster programme, Surple believes that energy and sustainability should be seen as opportunities to drive business performance and create value. Its analytics platform gives organisations oversight of their energy performance. Using sleek dashboards and graphics, the software intuitively visualises energy consumption, giving companies a platform to better understand their usage, identify waste effectively and spot any areas where simple efficiency gains can be made.

By delivering tailored educational content through a scientifically-designed and proven method of engagement using software, Surple empowers employees to change their behaviour and become more energy efficient and sustainable. Employee engagement can be monitored and compared with energy consumption, providing the simple metrics needed to measure success.

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

Inspirze Ltd: Weaving people into the fabric of your brand

Born in November 2018, award-winning software development startup Inspirze helps to build brand differentiation by weaving people into the very fabric of organisations. Its smart social enterprise platform creates context, purpose and meaning for a company’s employees and customers, inspiring them to live the brand and creating advocates that consistently deliver on the brand promise.

Inspirze combines the hard aspects of business with the soft, providing functionality into business areas where ‘signature actions’ –  the critical functions fundamental to delivering the brand promise – give companies the competitive edge. These signature actions, including stakeholder management, risk and compliance management, growth through training and development, and attracting and retaining customers, are made visible and measurable via the platform using dashboards and scorecards.

The company is currently working with strategic clients in South Africa, including McDonald’s South Africa and PAV Telecoms. These partnerships are enabling Inspirze to develop and scale its offering for the future. Ultimately, Inspirze wants to leverage these client success stories, alongside its South African Rand-based costing and support structure, and expand into developed countries across the globe, while operating from its base in the UK.

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

miFuture Group Ltd: A better way of connecting young people with career opportunities

Created by young people for young people, award-winning early-stage startup miFuture Group connects the digitally native Generation Z to the world of work, matching them to suitable earning, learning, training and volunteering positions where they can apply in a swipe. Founded in May 2015, the Welsh ICE accelerator programme alumnus enlisted the help of colleges, private training companies, a national governing body, a recruiter, the Army Reserves, regional voluntary organisations and 2,500 young participants for its pilot project, which helped to develop its product from an online platform to an app-first approach.

The miFuture app connects users with organisations in an instant application process, with the simplest functionality. Organisations have access to a dashboard with real time engagement results, details of return on investment and reach, and a portal to manage opportunities and responses. The app penetrates the digital behaviour of young people like never before, providing valuable insight into generational employability, industrial interest and the skills possessed by the newest workforce.

For the August 2018 product launch, miFuture secured 26 public and private sector opportunity providers who sought a highly-targeted and cost-effective means of engaging with Generation Z. During the pilot and early launch, the company became a solutions provider for key stakeholders, including the careers service, and national and regional government. Its partnership with miFuture Foundation also allows it to provide activities on behalf of the employability and poverty agendas, helping to fulfill the company’s overall mission to mobilise a generation towards employability and prosperity.

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


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.

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

Cardiff, Wales, Rising Stars, Early Stage