Introducing the Rising Stars 4.0 winners

Tech Nation, March 30, 2022 6 min read

We are excited to announce the 10 winners of Rising Stars 4.0 – the most exciting and accessible competition for early-stage scaleups from every part of the UK. 

Watch the Rising Stars Winners Showcase

The winners of this year’s competition are HR DataHub, Kuberno, Kythera AI, MYNDUP, Naurt, Renude, Settld, RDvault, xigxag and Zoa Rental. These companies are working to transform a range of different industries, ranging from fintech, healthtech and deathtech to gaming and retail.

The winners also come from a wide variety of sectors, with Rising Stars seeing its first ever beauty AI company (Renude) and its first ever deathtech (Settld). These companies showcase the strength and depth of UK tech, which is reinventing how industries traditionally operate.

Esme Caulfield, Competitions Lead at Tech Nation, commented: “This year’s Tech Nation Rising Stars 4.0 Winners demonstrate the very best of UK tech innovation. It’s been so exciting to see this year’s Rising Stars winners disrupting a wide variety of tech sectors. like fintech, lawtech and so many others, including – for the first time – deathtech.

“Perhaps even more excitingly, this is one of our most diverse cohorts yet, with the majority of winning companies having female founders or co-founders, and nearly three quarters hailing from outside of London.”

Last year’s competition (3.0) raised the bar for cohort gender diversity, with half of the winning cohort founded by females. Rising Stars 4.0 has topped that, with six of the 10 winning Rising Stars 4.0 companies having a female founder or co-founder; this representation mirrors the strength of female-founded businesses overall, which have already attracted more investment in 2022 so far than the whole of 2021 and 2020.

Rising Stars 4.0 is also regionally diverse, showcasing pockets of innovation and entrepreneurship right across the UK. Nine of the 10 winners hail from outside of London and, notably, it is the first time the competition has had winners from the North East (Zoa Rental and Settld), reflecting the dynamic tech ecosystem in the region.

This year’s winners have been selected by a panel of seven judges (industry experts with extensive experience in starting and scaling tech businesses), including Emma Jones (Founder of Enterprise Nation), Nahu Ghrebremichael (Partner at Singular) and Jess Jackson (Head of Investment at GC Angels), based on their value proposition, competitive advantage, market traction, team experience and potential to scale. Tech Nation has been delighted to partner with international law firm Pinsent Masons to deliver Rising Stars 4.0.

Nahu Ghebremichael, Partner at Singular and Rising Stars 4.0 Judge, commented: “It was a pleasure to serve as a Judge in this year’s Rising Stars competition; it’s so important that we, as a startup community, continue to invest time, energy, and funds into fueling entrepreneurship across the UK. I’ve been inspired by the level of engagement from founders, operators, advisors, and investors alike across the programme, and I’m so enthusiastic about how we’re continuing to evolve as a collaborative tech ecosystem. Congratulations to all of this year’s participants, as well as the winners, and thanks to Tech Nation.”

Following the competition, the 10 Rising Stars winners will continue to be supported by the UK tech ecosystem as they are inducted into the Tech Nation alumni network. Recognising and empowering all of the winners of the Rising Stars competition is at the core of Tech Nation’s mission to fuel the growth of tech scaleups who are helping us create a stronger UK economy, society and future.

The winners

HR Data Hub
East of England | HRtech (Recruitment, Talent, People) | @HRDataHub
HR Data Hub’s intelligence platform helps organisations make data-led people decisions, by giving them insights from the outside world.
Watch their winning pitch here 

North East | Saas / Deathtech | @Settldsupport
Settld is a SaaS product that simplifies end-of-life admin for bereaved individuals and professionals.
Watch their winning pitch here

South East | Lawtech
Kuberno provides company secretaries and other governance professionals with the tools and techniques to deliver truly future fit governance for their organisations.
Watch their winning pitch here 

London | Ecommerce & Marketplace
Renude is an online skincare recommendation service, powered by licensed experts and artificial intelligence.
Watch their winning pitch here 

South West | Digital Entertainment / Creative Tech | @xigxag5
xigxag is leading the biggest-ever innovation in digital reading and shaping the future of books.
Watch their winning pitch here 

Zoa Rental
North East | Retail Tech | @ZoaRental
Zoa is the UK’s first rental-as-a-service platform which removes barriers to adopting a truly circular model.
Watch their winning pitch here 

Kythera AI
Scotland | Gaming / Immersive | @KytheraAI
Kythera AI is on an ambitious mission to bring intelligent life to virtual worlds in games and beyond, through their leading AI middleware.
Watch their winning pitch here 

East of England | Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences |  @myndup
MYNDUP stops the “one size fits all approach” to mental health by offering live 1-1 video sessions across the mental health spectrum.
Watch their winning pitch here 

South East | Smart Cities / Mobility | @naurt_
Naurt develops location-optimisation software that provides hyper-precise location data.
Watch their winning pitch here 

RDvault Limited
North West | Fintech | @rdvault
RDvault has developed the world’s first fully automated R&D Tax Credits platform that empowers SMEs to swiftly and easily claim R&D tax incentives from HMRC.
Watch their winning pitch here 

Sector Award winners

The Rising Stars Sector Awards are aligned with Tech Nation’s sector programmes in Fintech, Net Zero and Applied AI.  The Awards recognise the most exciting company in each sector, and offer them a place in the next programme’s cohort.

This year’s winners are:

Fintech Award

South West | Fintech | @itsettled
itsettld’s bank-grade automated cashflow management & credit control platform identifies payment risks and automatically collects overdue invoices. This saves time, improves working capital, and allows businesses to thrive.

Net Zero Award

Zoa Rental
North East | Retail Tech | @ZoaRental
One of this year’s Rising Stars Winners, Zoa Rental offers retailers and fashion brands white-label technology, operations and management so that they can rent out their stock under their own brands, supporting sustainable fashion.

Applied AI Award

London | Ecommerce & Marketplace
Another of this year’s Rising Stars Winners, Renude’s  intelligent platform uses computer vision to analyse customers’ skin while also tracking their personal preferences to evolve their recommended skincare plan with their needs and tastes.

Diversity & Inclusion Award

The Rising Stars Diversity & Inclusion Award recognises innovative D&I initiatives in early stage scaleups.

Embedding diversity and inclusion in company culture and business operations at an early stage supports the growth of strong and innovative companies.  This award shows leadership in this area.

We had over 255 applications for the Award this year – an increase of 100% on last year’s Award applications, showing how companies are increasingly understanding the importance of the role diversity and inclusion plays in business success.  Entries covered everything from innovative recruitment practices, to building D&I networks in the community.

Overall winner

Lightning Social Ventures
London | Fintech | @lightningreach
Lightning Social Ventures have created an impressive bridge between inclusive employment practices and equity, diversity and inclusion within their product design. They are demonstrating a person first approach to hiring and retention, as well as to product development and customer reach. Beyond understanding the merits of diversity, Lightning are making concerted efforts to match the lived experience of their end users within their team to develop a more authentic, credible and relevant approach to solutions.

First runner-up

London | Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences | @abtrace
Abtrace is demonstrating inclusion proactivity through its product and service- seeking, to address the inequalities and variabilities that exist in the healthcare provision space, focusing on producing more equitable healthcare outcomes- specifically for groups who have barriers to healthcare inclusion. In order to deliver this authentically, Abtrace is also focused on diversity within its team, where there is significant representation across ethnicities, nationalities and gender and the ongoing desire to continue improving diversity.

Second runner-up

Northern Ireland | Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences | @KinvaApp
Given Kinva’s mission and purpose to support those with therapeutic needs, they have been proactive in taking positive action to attract qualified candidates with experiences of disabilities. Kinva recognises the need to understand and match the lived experience of end users and is also proactively considering what is needed to create the most inclusive experience for its diverse team including introducing new policies and ways of working.

Highly commended

Emenu Now
London | Ecommerce & Marketplace | @emenunow
Highly Commended for identifying the financial inequity experienced within their target audience and how this intersects with socio economic status and ethnicity, and for taking proactive measures to address.

North West | Data Analytics & Business Intelligence | @thisishace
Highly Commended for committing to job mobility, mentorship and development programmes and inviting everyone at HACE to contribute ideas for evolving the diversity and inclusion agenda.

Spend Network
South East | Fintech | @spendnetwork
Highly Commended for creating a systematic and scalable development programme to increase STEM opportunities for minority groups.

Taran 3D
Midlands | Gaming / Immersive | @taran3d
Highly Commended for developing a programme centred on tech skills for a local community, creating a talent hub with future-focused capabilities

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