Five top North West early stage tech companies revealed by Tech Nation

Jennie Johnson - My First Five Years

Start-up tech company champion Tech Nation has announced the five North West Regional Winners of its fourth Rising Stars competition, which recognises the brightest and best early stage tech scale-ups from every area of the UK.

In total, 55 fast-growing tech companies from across the UK have been named this year’s Regional Winners – five within each UK region.

Previous Rising Stars Regional Winners have included Circa5000, from the North West, Selazar, from Northern Ireland, and SeedLegals, from London, who have received a combined £33.79m in investment to date, demonstrating the ability of the Rising Stars Regional Winners to scale quickly, and their potential to become the UK’s tech ‘unicorns’ of the future.

The winners have been selected by a panel of more than 50 judges based on their value proposition, competitive advantage, market traction, team experience and potential to scale.

This year’s North West Regional Winners are THRIFT, Financielle, My First Five Years, Jyrney, and RDvault.

The majority of these companies hail from Manchester – the North West’s largest tech hub – and are working to transform a range of different industries, including fintech, edtech, travel tech and ecommerce.

These fast-growing early stage tech companies have an average of four employees, and the majority, three of five, have female founders.

THRIFT, from Liverpool, is an ecommerce business that tells you what any unwanted or unused items are worth on the second-hand market and where they can be sold.

Financielle, from Manchester, operates in the Fintech sector and aims to help bridge the gap in personal finance and inspire millions of women to invest and build wealth for their future through education and motivational content, practical money tools and a supportive community – which can all be found in the Financielle app.

My First Five Years, from Manchester, is an Edtech-focused business and creates a safe and supportive learning space for parents to support their child’s unique development. Using scientific research, and supported by many years of industry expertise, My First Five Years adapts to suit the individual needs of children through creative play.

Jyrney, also from Manchester, operates in travel tech and is redefining how travel, transport and mobility companies access ground transport, enabling a true door-to-door experience for their customers. In a particularly fragmented market, Jyrney enables mobility as a service, bringing ground transport within a traveller’s online booking tool, with visibility of total journey cost, CO2 emissions and meeting duty of care needs.

RDvault, a Manchester Fintech firm, has developed the world’s first fully automated R&D Tax Credits platform empowering SMEs to swiftly and easily claim R&D tax incentives from HMRC. Its cloud-based platform, allows users to integrate their accountancy packages such as Xero, Sage, and QuickBooks to extract, collate and prepare all the relevant information necessary to create an HMRC compliant R&D claim.

Mark O’Hara, founder of THRIFT, said: “UK tech start-ups are booming, especially those within the circular economy space – so it’s great that our THRIFT concept is not just considered but has been named a worthy Regional Winner. Our mission is to bring transparency to the resale market, by letting you know what any item is worth and on which marketplace, so more organisations and people can get involved in resale and avoid landfill.”

Jennie Johnson, CEO of My First Five Years, said: “Raising children has a profound impact on both the individual and society. We are on a mission to help parents with timely, impactful nuggets of knowledge backed by science and research that will help them notice and celebrate the little things that build up to the key achievements that become the building blocks for a child’s lifelong learning. Assisting parents to know what’s likely to be next in their child’s unique learning journey and how to support their child’s development through play, giving parents the knowledge to be confident they are doing the right things, empowering them to enjoy the first five years.”

Daniel Price, CEO and co-founder of Jyrney, said: “With travel still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, but becoming more regionalised, I see the importance of integrated, low emission mobility increasing in 2022 and beyond. Our core mission is to make the world’s last mile content easy to access and that’s why we have developed a world class platform, that will plug into existing travel and transport systems, to provide access to thousands of mobility options.”

Laura Pomfret, co-founder of Financielle, said: “Our mission is to help women take control of their money and be financially well and there has never been a better time than the current socio-economic landscape to launch our product. Our app is the antidote to the overwhelm that women feel when it comes to finances. Our step by step money plan is supporting thousands to pay down debt, build savings and invest and build wealth for the future.”

Shoayb Patel, founder of RDvault, said: “RDvault are looking forward to the next stages of the competition. It’s great to be recognised by the judges for our disruptive platform in helping companies recover precious R&D costs in the way of R&D Tax Credits. We look forward to continuing the momentum and securing further awards, expanding our team and completing our Series A round. The exposure we’ll gain from Tech Nation will, no doubt, be invaluable to this journey.”

Esme Caulfield, competitions lead at Tech Nation, said: “With Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition now in its fourth year, it’s amazing to see so many inspiring companies innovating to change our world for the better.

“This year, we reached the milestone of 1,000 applications to Rising Stars – and surpassed it. We had a record number of applications this year – 380 – and we also saw our first applications, and our first Regional Winner, from the spacetech sector, and agritech.

“From revolutionising modern healthcare and disrupting the finance sector, to transforming education and tackling climate change, each of these fast-growing regional early stage tech companies is helping us improve our economy, society and quality of life.”

The success of these early stage North West companies reflects the strength and fast growth of the tech market in the North West overall.

According to data from Tech Nation, the North West is now home to eight tech ‘unicorns’ – companies valued at more than $1bn – up from five in 2020, and has received $793m in venture capital investment this year, as of November 2021 – a 45% increase on the $546m received in 2020.

Tech job creation is also growing rapidly in the North West, rising by 161% in the past year, from 53,990 tech roles in 2020 to 141,023 in the first half of 2021.

Going forward, these five promising, fast growth North West tech companies will continue to be supported by the UK tech ecosystem as they are inducted into the Tech Nation alumni network. This will allow the companies national recognition, greater access to networking opportunities and more opportunities to learn from other early stage tech businesses going through a similar scaling journey.