Meet the Rising Stars semi-finalists: Yorkshire and the Humber’s top three startups

Esme Caulfield, December 28, 2018 4 min read

With 33 exciting early-stage tech companies from across the UK through to the Rising Stars Semi-Final in January, we’re finding out more about what our semi-finalists do and where they’ve come from. Next up, it’s the best and brightest from Yorkshire and the Humber.

Cutting-edge clusters in Yorkshire and the Humber

With £3.7bn in turnover and 53,000 people employed in 2017, Yorkshire and the Humber’s digital tech sector is booming. Home to innovative early-stage startups all the way through to big hitters like unicorn Sky Betting & Gaming and NHS Digital, the region offers a range of businesses across a variety of sectors, and a truly diverse tech ecosystem.

The region’s largest city, Leeds, is going from strength to strength. Three universities and one of the largest student populations in the UK result in a constant stream of talent, while events like the Leeds Digital Festival and Techstars’ Startup Weekend (which also ran in Sheffield this year), as well as supportive initiatives including Leeds City Council’s Tech Hub Fund and the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme, have helped to breed a thriving digital tech scene.

But it’s not just Leeds that has a reputation for excellence. With digital success stories like Plusnet, WANdisco and The Floow, Sheffield has a strong tech community boosted by support networks, strategic programmes and accelerators, such as Sheffield Digital, the Institute of Coding and Y Accelerator, respectively. The region is also home to Barnsley’s IoT Tribe, an equity-free accelerator for IoT companies, Hull’s C4Di, which recently announced plans to expand its digital hub, and the North’s only Digital Health Enterprise Zone in Bradford.

Below, we take a look at our semi-finalists from this flourishing region, The Data City, Carbon Performance and Vet-AI Ltd, all based in Leeds.

The Data City: Definitive economic insight

The Data City was born in September 2017 after the founders discovered how poorly understood regional economies were. As a result, central and local governments don’t have the data they need to direct economic policy decisions. The company has solved this by organising the world’s open economic data to make it both useful and influential.

Its database maps the UK economy, containing every organisation registered with GOV.UK (circa 4.2 million), including companies, publics, charities and third sector organisations. The company’s AI platform overcomes the limitations of SIC codes and companies house data, collecting information on UK organisations using open data and website content, including locations, keywords, relationships and sector clusters. It also tracks and stores meetup data, jobs advertised, and academic publications data for the whole world. The database refreshes monthly, meaning the data can look further back in time than any other offering.

Using this information, The Data City offers regions an understanding of themselves and their sector strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to compare themselves with other places, presented in a user-friendly format and as raw data. Ultimately, the company will allow users to generate their own websites and datasets for anywhere in the world, enabling better insights and better government.

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

Carbon Performance: Disrupting the automotive industry

Digital manufacturing startup Carbon Performance is the world’s first automotive consumer 3D-printing company. Established in February 2018, it uses Industry 4.0 technologies, such as AI and 3D-printing, to produce lightweight, organic, bionic and environmentally sustainable components for the automotive and motorsport industry, helping to improve vehicle dynamics and performance, and, most importantly, reduce fuel emissions.

The automotive components manufacturing industry hasn’t seen much disruption in over two decades. Conventional automotive parts are heavy, clunky, inefficient and bad for the environment, manufactured using traditional techniques like CNC that result in a huge amount of material waste. Carbon Performance has tackled this by disrupting the supply chain, manufacturing using 3D-printing, which means zero material wastage, no stock of inventory, no warehouse, quick turnaround times, mass customisation and a very low carbon footprint.

At the moment, Carbon Performance’s mission is to disrupt the automotive industry but with its core business principles and technologies, it’s planning to diversify into other markets, such as medical applications and aerospace. The company’s vision for the future is developing sustainable transportation, bringing advanced manufacturing and materials back to the UK, and putting Yorkshire on the innovation map.

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

Vet-AI Ltd: The best of care… direct to your pets

One in three pets aren’t taken to the vets when they have a health issue due to expense. Founded in April 2018, Vet-AI’s vision is to combine the expertise of highly-qualified vets and groundbreaking new technologies to deliver affordable, mobile on-demand veterinary care direct to pet owners.

The company’s team of vets, scientists and product engineers have come together to develop an advanced AI-driven symptom checker, ASK JOII. For the first time ever, pet owners can make better health decisions for their pets within seconds. Almost 80% of consultations can be diagnosed with an online examination or via video call. There’s no need for pet owners and pets to go through the stress of a vet visit as they can use the service from the comfort of their own home, and it saves them 70% on consultation fees.

Vet-AI has partnered with three of the worlds largest animal pharmaceutical companies and has a wholesaler in place that can ship treatments and products direct to the consumer within 24 hours. It’s also working directly with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Leeds University, Leeds Beckett and Surrey University. Although the business is less than a year old, the team has been developing its proposition for nearly two years. Built on a foundation of scientific validation and groundbreaking artificial intelligence, Vet-AI is on a mission to improve the welfare of pets over time.

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


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.

Yorkshire, Rising Stars, Early Stage