In this spotlight piece, DIGIT highlights some of the most interesting tech startups in Scotland’s largest city, which includes ScotlandIS member Lupovis.
Glasgow, as well as being Scotland’s largest city, has undergone arguably the country’s largest shift in economic identity – from its famed ship building years, the city on the Clyde has transformed into a bustling technological hub, boasting some of Scotland’s most exciting startups.
Glesga boasts a number of accelerators including Barclays’ Eagle Labs, the Smart Things Accelerator Centre (STAC), and Scottish Edge, which have propelled innovative startups and incubated early-stage companies throughout their growth journeys.
The iconic Met Tower in Glasgow’s city centre was recently redeveloped by Bruntwood SciTech into a hub for digital and tech businesses, set to be completed in 2024, ushering in a new swatch of tech companies into the city.
Further, Glasgow City Innovation District serves as the first of its kind in Scotland bringing together researchers and technology firms to showcase Scotland’s status as a hub of technological innovation to the global stages
Glasgow was recently ranked the best city in Scotland to start a business, with the highest number of new businesses created per capita in the entire country.
As well as hosting three world-class universities – The University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian University, – the city is also home to a number of spin-out and research institutions. The University of Glasgow recently launched a Centre for Data Science and AI, aiming to harness the emerging technologies and attract international talent.
“The Glasgow Tech Ecosystem has entered a virtuous cycle. Catalysts such as the Innovation Districts, Tech Scaler, and an increased focus from our universities on entrepreneurship are combining to create more, and stronger startups,” Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial advisor at the Scottish Government, stated in a Glasgow City Region Tech Ecosystem report.
“These, in turn, create more belief, and strengthen the ecosystems experience base, leading to further start-up creation. It’s the most exciting entrepreneurial environment weʼve seen in Glasgow in living memory.”
Despite challenges such as talent acquisition and retention, as well as tightening budgets amid an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and a tense geo-political landscape, there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to startups as Glasgow, as we pick out nine that we think are doing some really interesting things within the ecosystem.
Founded in 2020, Gigged.AI has already made a name for itself within the Scottish tech ecosystem for its AI-driven talent platform, and will not surprise many as an opener for this list of interesting Glasgow startups.
In 2021, it was named by Tech Nation as a Rising Star 4.0 Scottish regional winner.
Headquartered in Glasgow, the company launched its Talent Portal using AI algorithms to create optimal business and employee matches. The company claims to help onboard new tech talent while helping SMEs retain their current staff to optimise effective hiring.
According to the company, this means using data-driven AI algorithms to use both internal talent and freelancers to enhance efficiency and productivity, especially in the current talent shortage.
CEO and Founder Rich Wilson recently wrote in an opinion piece for DIGIT, encouraging companies to take advantage of what he called “quite hiring” to deal with the current skills shortage, explaining: “By combining internal mobility, upskilling, and reskilling initiatives with strategic engagement of contingent workers, we can solve the skill shortage in the short and long term.”
The company already has big ticket clients signed using their platform, including the BCC, The University of Edinburgh, Skyscanner, ATOS, FanDuel, and Webhelp.
As of January this year, the company has amassed £2.5 million in total funding, thanks in part to a deal lead by Par Equity alongside existing investors Techstart Ventures, Nile HQ, and others for £1.6m.
In 2022, the company announced its intentions to expand globally, eyeing the North American markets
Founded in 2021, Loopsio connects university and college students studying computing science with companies looking for software development, training, and consulting.
Supervised by professionals, students are able to work on software projects for companies in varied industries and sectors, gaining real-world experience, while the organisations benefit from student talent and professional expertise.
Loopsio appears to be tackling two major issues in the tech sector at once – a lack of proper experience for those studying computer science, which can keep them from entering the tech world, and the looming skills gap affecting sectors that need tech talent, but cannot afford the competitive salaries of major tech companies.
An University of Glasgow spin-out, Loopsio’s founder Omar Tufayl research the potential implementation of the company’s service at his university over 2020, with an overall mission to connect the world of academia with industry, one of the key pillars proponents of computing science agree need to be a major priority for companies.
Loopsio aims to provide cost-effective technical solutions to organisations outside of the tech sector that need assistance and expertise in developing apps, websites, and platforms for their businesses, concepts, and ideas.
Digitising chemistry, as the company calls it, Chemify is a spin out of the University of Glasgow which recently reaching £36m in series A funding.
While research began in founder and CEO Lee Cronin’s university days in 2019, Chemify spun out in 2022, entering the market with research meant to create the necessary infrastructure to ‘digitise chemistry’
Put simply, this means essentially turning every molecule into code, with allowing that code to be converted back into the relevant molecules, in order to digitally develop compounds and conduct experiments over digital platforms, expanding chemistry research.
“Chemify is building a company that can design, make, and discover complex molecules on demand using digital blueprints faster, more efficiently, and safely than is currently possible,” said CEO Lee Cronin, as quoted in a recent DIGIT article covering their series A funding.
“Our mission is to deliver better molecules for pharmaceutical and industrial partners in a fraction of the time and cost currently required.”
Chemify claims their new technology can reduce the time and money typically needed to experiment with different chemicals and materials to develop new pharmaceutical drugs, driven by innovations in AI and data-driven decision making.
Prior to gaining £36m in series A funding, the company already used £25m in funding to finance their foundational research developing the technology to create their digital chemical approach, transferring chemical information into code.
Focusing on advancing the “wee-est” bit of technology, WeeTeq is a Scottish company developing artificial intelligence for some of the smallest levels in manufacturing.
While most AI models used to sensing performance abnormalities in manufacturing rely on sensors to understand the status of a machine, WeeTeq’s Ultra Edge® model accesses the data within a machine on the circuit level, using artificial intelligence to them analyse the performance and even automatically adopt improvements.
This makes the machines “self-healing,” the company purports, enabling predictive maintenance of a closed-loop system.
A member of Silicon Catalyst, a semiconductor focussed accelerator programme and incubator, WeeTeq’s technology can be used to optimise the performance of machines by analysing the data from their circuits without the need for a separate sensor.
The company has secured four patents to protect their technology, which included embedded software, silicon, circuits and models, and enterprise software.
Launched in 2022, WeeTeq won £100,000 as winner of the Scottish Edge 2023 awards.
The global pandemic stifled creativity and innovation for some, but inspired the founder of Nooku, Danny Kane.
Founded in 2022, Nooku is a recent Scottish Edge award winner, and was inspired by the lockdowns of the pandemic.
Kane, CEO of Nooku, became more worried and aware about the quality of indoor air after raising his 18 month old child inside during the lockdowns of the pandemic, as he struggled with respiratory issues.
Using his experience at Filament PD, Kane designed a smart indoor air ventilation monitor that can monitor four key elements in indoor air quality, as well as six common pollutants.
Nooku devices monitor humidity, temperature, Volatile compounds, CO2, noxious oxide, and fine particulate matter.
Not only does Nooku monitor air quality, but it provides practical advice to create better air quality within a home or business.
The company also created a kid-friendly version complete with bear ears, and offers gamified challenges to help children and young people learn about air quality.
Founded in 2022, Nooku is a recent Scottish Edge award winner, and also partnered with Our Classroom Climate to offer their products to schools and help inform children about air quality and the effects of climate change.
“The best defence is a good offence,” is a common saying in the realm of sports, and now, Lupovis has adopted it into the world of cybersecurity.
The Glasgow-based cybersecurity firm uses AI-driven technology for early detection of threats to their clients’ most sensitive data, and uses tactics often adopted by threat actors themselves – manipulation, gamification, and deception – to steer attackers away from a company’s assets.
Founded in 2021, the company claims their deception technology makes the hunter the hunted, and has since won a Scottish Edge Award and joined the National Cyber Security Council and Plexal for Startups.
Lupovis’ process employs a series of decoys and lures, leading adversaries out of a company’s network at the earliest detection of a breach.
In 2022, the company won a pre-seed investment of over €700k from a syndicate co-led by Techstart Ventures and Natural Capital, and the University of Strathclyde, from which it spun out.
A spin out of the University of Glasgow, Vector Photonics, the semiconductor laser producer, was founded in 2020.
The company is focused on laser production for Cloud Datacentre applications, aiming for their designs and laser technology to reduce the energy consumption of these ever-important servers.
Producing Photonic Crystal Surface-Emitting Lasers (PCSEL) for semiconductors, the company aims to leverage their cost-effective and energy efficient laser technology in the race to develop more sustainable AI-capable semiconductors and servers.
In April of 2023, Vector Photonics won £1 million for the UK’s ZEUS research project to commercialise its 1-Watt, datacoms PCSEL for the parallel development of AI lasers, funded by Innovate UK and UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund.
“The full impact of a 1 Watt PCSEL on AI chip design is not yet quantified, as the entire architecture of the chips and systems will change, but it brings countless manufacturing and energy saving benefits,” Dr. Richard Taylor, chief technology officer officer of Vector Photonics said.
Founded in 2021, Architextures developed an online platform allowing architects and designers to experiment with multiple textures, colours, and patterns on different surfaces in a realistic online environment.
The technology offers a library of different texture swatches architects can use on various surfaces, but also offers the way lighting, space, and other environmental factors will affect how these surfaces interact with each other and how they will change.
This aspect of the technology has garnered the attention of video game designers, as the platform can be used for 3D renderings as well as flat designs.
Further, manufacturers can get in touch to licence their materials and products with Architextures to make them available to designers across the world.
Launched in 2020, OneBanx aims to provide a bridge between the fast-pace digital transformation of banking and the decline of in-person banking and customer service.
OneBanx offers an open-banking experience, allowing customers to consolidate all their accounts into one app where they can manage transactions and balances.
While traditional banks may be disappearing, OneBanx also offers in person services via kiosks, of which there are currently three in Scotland. These are open to people from all banks and offer advice and in-branch services like withdrawals, payments, deposits, and customer support.
In 2021, the company gained £580k in seed funding from Advantage Business Angels and Chris Adelsbach, with a further £1.2m of funding from Crowdcube in December 2022.
OneBanx’s app can be used from anywhere, but their in-person services are currently focused on Scottish towns which have lost many of their high street bank locations. Their kiosks can currently be found in Co-op food stores located in Kilwinning, Denny, and Lochgelly.