Scotland's top three tech start-ups revealed

A healthtech firm focused on boosting the efficacy of medicines, an app supporting disabled access to venues, and an on-demand drinks delivery service have been crowned the Scottish winners of Tech Nation’s latest scale-up competition.
Disabled access app Neatebox is among the trio of Scottish winners. Picture: ContributedDisabled access app Neatebox is among the trio of Scottish winners. Picture: Contributed
Disabled access app Neatebox is among the trio of Scottish winners. Picture: Contributed

The tech entrepreneur network has named Talking Medicines, Neatebox and Drinkly as regional victors in its Rising Stars contest, which aims to celebrate and support the UK’s “most exciting and innovative” early-stage tech firms.

They are among 33 regional winners put forward to January’s semi-final, which will be followed in February by a grand final at which the top 20 companies will pitch to become one of Tech Nation’s ten Rising Stars.

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The competition’s prize package has been put together to “significantly” raise the profile of the winning companies on both a national and international level.

Gavin Neate, chief executive and co-founder of Neatebox, said: “We are over the moon as this is validation of our social good business model and its high growth potential.”

The “tech for good” start-up’s Welcome app gives businesses and venues advance notice of customers’ disability requirements. It has been downloaded by more than 2,000 people across the UK and Ireland.

Meanwhile, Glasgow-based Talking Medicines – founded by Jo Halliday, Scott Crae and Elizabeth Fairley – has developed and launched the Medsmart app, which can help patients better manage their medicines at home. Earlier this year, the healthtech secured £622,000 in a funding round led by SIS Ventures.

Finally, Edinburgh-based Drinkly, which is also active in Glasgow and London, delivers chilled beers, spirits and wines directly to customers’ doors. The service has grown to offer more than 650 drinks and snacks, with plans to launch in further UK cities.

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Applicants were required to be at the stage of seeking early stage funding or generating annual revenues of up to £1.5 million to be considered for the contest.

TuringFest founder Brian Corcoran, Seed Haus founder and chief executive Calum Forsyth, and Lori Anderson, director at Creative Dundee, were among the judges.

A “highly commended” honour was bestowed on three additional Scottish start-ups: digital wellbeing firm Frog Systems, ethical ad partner Good-Loop, and feedback platform MyCustomer Lens.

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Turnover from digital tech businesses in Scotland currently stands at £3.9 billion.

Hazel Gibbens, Tech Nation entrepreneur engagement manager for Scotland, said: “When it comes to digital tech, Scotland has hit a real momentum in recent years. It’s incredible to see the level of talent, innovation and drive being displayed by companies from across the region.

“Rising Stars is a real celebration of that work, lifting up the nation’s brightest ideas and entrepreneurs and supporting their future growth. I’m so pleased to see that Talking Medicines, Drinkly and Neatebox will represent Scotland in the semi-finals.”

Now in its second year, the Rising Stars competition has seen a 39 per cent rise in applications compared to 2018. It is supported by sponsors BDO Drive, Microsoft, Soldo, Talent Works International and TLT.