Success at the South Yorkshire Investor Lounge

Success at the South Yorkshire Investor Lounge

The first South Yorkshire Investor Lounge took place on Wednesday 30th November at Kollider in Sheffield, bringing together members of the region’s rapidly growing startup ecosystem to reflect on the successes of 2022, and discuss the challenges for the future. The evening was launched through the South Yorkshire Angel Hub, a collaboration between TEAM SY and NorthInvest, to showcase some of our finest up and coming startups, (covering sustainability, media, immersive tech, data, AI, medtech, e-commerce and tech for good), and focus on securing early stage funding for them.

With over 100 investors, funders, sector specialists and entrepreneurs in the room, the evening was a great success, and demonstrates just why South Yorkshire is such an exciting place to start, develop and grow a business.

The evening began with an introduction to the current startup ecosystem, and discussions of the amount of support already available through a variety of associations, accelerator programmes and influential people who are making things happen. Attendees then heard a presentation from Ashley Tate from Mina, who shared his journey through fund-raising rounds, before the first of the startups had their chance to pitch.

With fantastic pitches from CAST, Tickets for Good, Future Greens, TUBR and Snowball, the future is certainly looking bright for South Yorkshire!

Before the remaining startups took to the stage, we spoke to a panel of regional specialists including: Louisa Harrison-Walker, Chief Executive of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce; Alex Dochery, Investment Team Manager of Business Doncaster/Doncaster Council; Kathy McArdle, Service Director for Regeneration and Culture of Barnsley Council, and Yvonne Asquith, Business Sheffield and Invest, Sheffield City Council.

Bringing together all of these experts under one roof displayed just how much potential there is in South Yorkshire for startups, investors and sector specialists who are looking for innovation to drive their sector forward.

This was only highlighted further during the final five pitches from The HRC Test, GeoStories, Ferrio, Twin Dynamics, and Stemcell X.

The evening led to some great successes for the startups, with 7 of them already in conversation with investors who attended the event. A further 4 of them are now having discussions with investors who heard about the event afterwards and have since been introduced, and one of the startups will close their round before the end of the year.

These amazing achievements are a fantastic platform to build from. There are some very exciting things happening in the region, especially with TEAM SY’s programmes and accelerators, which are designed to support a wide range of businesses and sectors. This is leading to a strong and consistent pipeline of credible startups looking to raise investment. The South Yorkshire Angel Hub and NorthInvest are now seeing more regional investment activities and attracting new investors to the region. They have created a great starting point for all of South Yorkshire, and it will be exciting to see how they move this forward in 2023.


About NorthInvest

NorthInvest is a not-for-profit investment organisation specialising in angel investment in tech and digital start-ups across Tech For Good, Digital Media, Cyber, FinTech and MedTech. NorthInvest is backed by the Northern Powerhouse and facilitates connections and investment between tech and digital startups and angel investors, as well as offering free coaching and mentorship opportunities to entrepreneurs and Non-Executive Director opportunities to investors


Showcase Highlights Strength of South Yorkshire MedTech Ecosystem

Showcase Highlights Strength of South Yorkshire MedTech Ecosystem

On 23 November, we welcomed 10 companies from the current P4SY Accelerator Programme cohort to Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries for the P4SY Showcase & MedTech Conference, bringing together startups and domain experts from across the region for a day of pitching and presentations on the development of South Yorkshire’s medtech ecosystem.

First to take the stage was Peter Fish, CEO of rare disease startup Mendelian. The company’s first product, MendelScan, is a clinical decision support tool that scans through medical records at scale, using clinically validated detection algorithms to find cases of rare and hard to diagnose diseases. As Peter explained, current estimates predict that 1 in 10 of us will someday be diagnosed with a so-called rare disease, which can often take years to diagnose due to a lack of familiarity among GPs. The company recently completed its 10 millionth scan and is currently raising its Series A. 

Next up was Angela Malik, CEO and founder of Planet Nourish. The company’s aim is to level the playing field and improve health outcomes for underrepresented populations with an ethnically-focused Prevention as a Service (PaaS) digital platform delivering hyper-personalised food, lifestyle and behavioural change recommendations. The company’s first target are British Asian populations, one of the factors that initially attracted them to working in the South Yorkshire region. The company is currently raising a pre-seed round and seeking to build partnerships with enterprise clients and health insurance providers.

Zorrie Dimitrova, COO of GlycanAge, introduced the audience to the importance of glycans, protein biomarkers which we carry on the surfaces of every cell and which have been underexplored to date as a way of predicting health changes and disease. The founding team behind GlycanAge are the world’s leading glycan experts and the company is pioneering a B2B2C model through a network which already includes 400 medical providers and 15,000 direct customers, more than half of which test multiple times. They are currently raising a seed round with half of the amount committed.

Eupnoos CEO and founder Arshia Gratiot explained the company’s mission to improve monitoring of lung diseases using breathing sounds and smartphone sensors, speeding up diagnosis and giving patients better insight into their own health. With a special focus on preventive healthcare, the company is currently raising a seed round and seeking partnerships with NHS community leads to validate specific population cohorts such as people with asthma, COPD, and fibrotic diseases. 

Luis Rodrigues, CEO of Kinetikos, has developed a solution for passive monitoring of patients with movement disorders, starting with Parkinsons. The Kinetikos software platform has already been used by more than 1,700 patients in research settings and clinical practice in the company’s home market of Portugal, as well as the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States. The mobile app is available in the UK and has been DTAC cleared and ORCHA certified while the company looks to raise a Series A. demonstrated their no-code platform to make AI accessible to any type of business user. As CEO and co-founder Manish Patel told the audience, Jiva’s technology allows small teams to create, test, validate, and deploy practical and usable AI tools including for purposes such as diagnostics at a fraction of the cost of an AI team. The company is currently raising a £4.5 million round, with £2.1 million already committed, and is seeking channel partnerships with companies that can resell services to their own client base.

Saran Muthiah of EnrichMyCare pitched the company’s offering for children and young people with disabilities and long-term conditions: a personalised platform for self-monitoring and multi-disciplinary team (MDT) management. The company is currently seeking seed investment, and looking for opportunities to scale up the existing platform at system level and develop collaborations with Integrated Care System partners from health, care, and education.

As Dr Keith Tsui of Medwise explained, many clinicians in patient-facing roles lack a single authoritative source of medical information which they can quickly and reliably access when evaluating their patients. That’s why Medwise has been created as a search engine for health professionals to use at the point of care. Already used by more than 500 providers across 50 care commissioning groups, Medwise was recently awarded an Innovate UK Smart Grant. They are currently completing a seed round and seek to expand relationships with NHS trusts up and down the country. 

Mark Bartlett, CEO of StoreGene, explained his company’s Clinical Genomic Operating System which integrates genomics into every stage of the healthcare journey. With a single test that reveals 20,000 genes and 3.2 billion base pairs, the company aims to move genetic testing from the laboratory to the cloud, making it possible for doctors to draw on this data to inform individual treatment approaches. The company is currently raising its seed round and anticipates increasing revenue by 10x over the next year.

Dr Phil Alton, a former NHS emergency doctor, started Senti Tech with the goal of making it easier to monitor patients with conditions such as asthma and COPD in a virtual ward model. The Senti Smart Garment is a medical device, worn like a tabard, that uses sensors to capture breath and heart sounds and inform decision-making by health professionals, allowing them to better adjust medication in real time. The company is currently completing a single site medical study and plans to raise a £10 million series A next year. They are also looking for further partnerships with NHS community teams in more regions, outside Liverpool and Essex where they are already active. 

Before and after the pitching, the audience heard from guest speakers Will Gibbs of Octopus Ventures and conference sponsor Mark Jackson of Scarborough Group International, as well as Dr Richard Cullen, Clinical Lead for Digital & Innovation, SYB Integrated Care Board.

Prof Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation, NHS England delivered a rousing keynote touching on the importance of medical innovation and his work as national lead for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. 

A panel on the future of the medtech sector heard from Prof Wendy Tindale, Dr Mandy Dixon, entrepreneur in residence Alan Pooley, and Goddess Gaia Ventures founder Priya Oberoi-Cattai. 

P4SY companies exhibiting included: 

  • Holly Health, a digital health and well-being coach that helps users with personalised, habit-forming positive behaviour change for physical and mental health;
  • Gold Standard Phantoms, improving the quality of MRIs through standardisation thereby improving diagnostic confidence;
  • Mint Diagnostics, innovative saliva testing and visualisation providing hormone data intelligence for women’s health and wellbeing;
  • XR Therapeutics, developing a treatment that combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with virtual reality to support people with phobias and anxieties. 

If you are interested in a warm introduction to one of the P4 SY cohort companies, please get in touch with Programme Manager & MedTech Connector Philippa Takhar or P4 SY Programme Coordinator Tamara Moon

Follow P4 SY on LinkedIn for regular updates on our startup support programmes and future accelerator opportunities.

Creating a vibrant startup community

Creating a vibrant startup community

Creating a vibrant startup community

How a full calendar of high quality startup events and meetups increases entrepreneurial activity and strengthens the startup ecosystem.

By Samantha Deakin and Laura Bennett

We want to start this post by announcing the latest addition to the TEAM SY tech startup ecosystem family…

*drumroll please*

📅📅 Enter the South Yorkshire Startup Events Calendar 📅📅

This is the place to find out what’s happening across South Yorkshire’s technology startup scene. Including meetups, startup events, conferences and all manner of startup goodness, never miss another opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs on a similar journey to you.

And why a startup events calendar? Well, in the words of Brad Feld, author of “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City”:

“The startup community must have continual activities that meaningfully engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.”

Let’s break that down a little bit…


What is a Startup Community?

First of all, what do we mean by Startup Community as opposed to entrepreneurial ecosystem? Essentially, what we’re talking about here is entrepreneurs and those who have direct interest in the success of startups – founders, investors, employees. They are the Startup Community. They are the heart of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which also includes universities, local government, accelerators, and other stakeholders who contribute towards creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

Read more about entrepreneurial ecosystems in this previous post.


Why are startup events and meetups important?

An entrepreneur’s network is hugely influential in her business. Having access to a network provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to seek out peer support, learn from others, forge relationships with potential mentors, and meet potential investors. A wide variety of regular events and meetups give entrepreneurs plenty of opportunities to expand their network, and contributes to the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Events and meetups also allow for serendipitous meetings-of-minds: by getting out and meeting people, entrepreneurs are more likely to meet that one individual who knows someone who knows someone else, who can unlock a particular challenge or problem that moves the entrepreneur’s business forward in some way.

When it comes to what’s available for an entrepreneur in a region, continual activities are key. We’re not just talking about one event a month here. We’re talking about several events a month, or even several events a week. There should always be something happening within the next few days and, as an entrepreneur, you should be able to network with other entrepreneurs on a very regular basis. 

Both of us have experience in organising startup meetups and running events for entrepreneurs. It’s a wonderful feeling to bring together like-minded people in a supportive environment, but it isn’t always easy. Two things that we have grappled with in particular are, one: getting bums on seats, and two: how to meaningfully engage the entrepreneurs that attend our events. We’ll look at each of these in turn, to share some of our experiences in the hope that it can help others.


Getting bums on seats

Whenever we (or others) have asked, entrepreneurs have always said that they really enjoy events and meetups, and that they get a lot of value from them. Great! But as any event organiser will tell you, getting people signed up and through the door can be incredibly challenging. Even when there’s a great speaker lined up, even when the topic is something that has been requested, even when previous attendees have said they will definitely come to the next event. This can be very disheartening for events organisers, and is certainly a feeling that we are both familiar with. Allow us to offer a few suggestions which have worked for us in the past:


  • Don’t give up! It can be hard work but also incredibly rewarding. We met each other (and many of our good friends) through startup events.
  • Seek out support. We at TEAM SY can play a cheerleader role here!
  • Look for a co-organiser. We’ve seen it work where two people come together to organise each meetup, and we’ve also seen it work when two people take it in turns to organise an event every other month. Both approaches help ease the burden.
  • Try a different time of day. If after-work meetups are falling flat, what happens if you start them at 4pm? Or does breakfast work better for your target audience?
  • Try having the meetup more or less frequently. If it is an informal get-together, perhaps try weekly. If it is a more formal meetup, perhaps try monthly, or even every other month.
  • Build up your own list of super connectors. Who are the people you know (or know of) who have direct access to your target audience? For a general entrepreneurship event, the list is long and includes managers of incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, and people working within business support functions at the local authorities, just for starters. 
  • Spread the word far and wide. This is where your list of super connectors comes in handy. Send them an email to ask for their help, but make it as easy as possible. Include some suggested tweets and a short paragraph about the event that they can include in a newsletter or email to their networks.
  • Get social media savvy. As a starter for ten: do you have a hashtag and / or a meetup specific social media profile? Which platform has the most reach for your target audience? Which individuals are likely to share your content? Make sure you tag them in your posts!

Run a startup event or meetup?

Add your event to the South Yorkshire Startup Calendar and reach a wider audience.

Meaningfully engaging entrepreneurs at events

There has to always be some kind of value add for attendees – otherwise why would they bother? For a three-day long intensive Startup Weekend, the meaningful engagement may come from the immersion in the startup experience, the practice of developing ideas and pitching, and the benefit of meeting potential collaborators and co-founders. For a regular, monthly startup meetup, the meaningful engagement could be hearing what an insightful speaker has to say or catching up with entrepreneurs who are struggling with similar challenges to you.

The entire entrepreneurial stack is unlikely to be catered for in one event, hence the need for that full calendar of continual activities. The entire entrepreneurial stack includes founders at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey whether startup, scaleup or established company. But it also includes those who may have ideas, passion or are dipping their toes into the startup pool. They may not have launched a product or startup yet, but they’re the entrepreneurs of the future, the next generation of startup employees, and events that meaningfully engage them let them know that entrepreneurship is a route they can take. That it’s possible for them to have ideas and solve problems they’re passionate about.


See you soon?

Check out what’s on the agenda for entrepreneurs in South Yorkshire this month. We’re particularly looking forward to Blue Lake’s Raising First Funds workshop and the Sheffield Startup Meetup / After Work Drinks so come hang out with us. We can’t wait to meet you.

What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Ecosystem image

What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

By Laura Bennett

Entrepreneurship – the creation of new businesses through innovative products or services – is essential for economic development, no matter what sector, vertical, or geography. To twist the famous phrase, “no man is an island”, let’s make the bold claim that “no entrepreneur is his or her business alone”. There is often a degree of hero worship around entrepreneurs – and certainly they deserve to be lauded, it is a bold move to set up your own business and shoulder that responsibility. But there are a host of other factors that contribute to the success of new entrepreneurial endeavours, and those should not be overlooked.


Entrepreneurs – those intrepid individuals who create those new innovative businesses – access support from a range of institutions, organisations, and individuals. Institutions such as local universities, funding bodies, incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces are the more tangible aspects of an entrepreneurial ecosystem – they are often the elements you will find mapped out on an ecosystem map. There are two such examples in Sheffield, one created by my colleague Samantha Deakin, and the other created by the Synergy Project, led by my other colleague Ceri Batchelder along with Mel Kanarek who is one of the Directors of Sheffield Digital (link will be updated once this resource is online).


But new businesses also emerge from (and are dependent upon) the conditions of a place – spatial, social, cultural. To take an extreme example: a new business starting up in Gaza City will be very different from one starting up in Sheffield. It would serve different markets, would have access to different resources, and would be influenced by the culture in which its founders operate. An example closer to home: a startup in an urban Northern UK city may well be quite different to one in a rural South East town, operating under differing local government structures with varying levels of funding and political buy-in. These cultural, societal, and political influences are the less tangible aspects of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, but they are just as important as the more tangible ones mentioned above.


So, an entrepreneurial ecosystem encompasses both the components that support entrepreneurs and the conditions within which entrepreneurship is embedded. Like any concept, there are varying definitions, but broadly, it is agreed that an entrepreneurial ecosystem comprises the following components:


  • talent & workforce; 
  • large companies; 
  • sources of funding; 
  • markets; 
  • support services & mentors; 
  • incubation & education for founders; 
  • universities; 
  • entrepreneur’s informal networks, 


… that sit within the following conditions:


  • Physical infrastructure of a place
  • Cultural and societal norms
  • Government policy


This list of features of an entrepreneurial ecosystem have been identified as commonalities between places that enjoy a high level of successful entrepreneurship. But this clean list of bullet points belies the fact that each place will have its own specific mix of cultural norms, societal expectations, historical industry strengths, physical infrastructure, political support, not to mention different tangible aspects such as co-working spaces or business support programmes. 


The trap that it is easy to fall into is to assume that this list is like the ingredients of a cake – put them all together and the next Google will emerge from the oven. It is an attractive idea: create the ecosystem and entrepreneurship will surely follow, bringing economic growth, talent, jobs and innovation. But it is not as simple as “copy and paste”: for any entrepreneurial ecosystem to be successful, it must be rooted firmly in its locality, drawing its strengths and identity from the characteristics of the place


That being said, where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, it makes sense to address them. It was in this spirit that the TEAM SY project was initially conceived, responding to challenges and barriers that are specific to South Yorkshire, and building on several years of supporting and stimulating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in London. You can read more about the TEAM SY approach in this LinkedIn article by Darren Balcombe, Deputy CEO of Capital Enterprise. Of course, London is a different beast entirely to South Yorkshire, so from the beginning there was no attempt to directly copy and paste the approach. Rather, the Capital Enterprise team worked with stakeholders in the region to identify where the TEAM SY project could most add value. You can read more about our approach to our ecosystem work in this blog post about the role of the TEAM SY Super Connectors.


So, the answer to the question “what is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?” is not as straight-forward as we might hope – as with any big concept, behind a seemingly simple phrase lies entire realms of discussion and debate, and not just in academic circles, but also amongst policymakers and practitioners. It can be all too easy to speak in jargon and throw buzzwords around like confetti. Like many big concepts, the more you think about an entrepreneurial ecosystem, the more questions arise. But, if we are to be concise (and if you are looking for a go-to definition), we can sum it up as the following: “An entrepreneurial ecosystem is the supportive environment in which entrepreneurship can flourish”. For a bit more depth, we can add that a range of different institutions make up that supportive environment, for example, public sector bodies, universites, and business support programmes. To take it further, let’s throw in the societal, geographical, and cultural aspects, i.e. “context matters”. 


With a more thorough understanding of the phrase “entrepreneurial ecosystem” it is easier for us to recognise all the often unseen support that goes into any successful venture. Whilst the entrepreneur might shoulder the risk, they do not need to carry this alone. Ensuring that entrepreneurs are able to access the support and resources that they need from the environment in which they are based increases the chances of success for those bold individuals.