TEAM SY contributes to the Chambers of Commerce quarterly podcast

TEAM SY contributes to the Chambers of Commerce quarterly podcast

Ecosystem image

TEAM SY contributes to the Chambers of Commerce quarterly podcast

By Laura Bennett

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the latest edition of the ‘South Yorkshire Policy Pod’, a quarterly podcast hosted by the Chambers of Commerce in Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley. The topic at hand was innovation, and I was joined by Steve Foxley, CEO of the AMRC, and Tom Rumboll, CEO of Synetiq.

I was invited to talk about our work at TEAM SY to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Yorkshire. TEAM SY is now working with 16 partners across the region who are running a range of different business support programmes covering everything from Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things to Gaming, Social Good, and MedTech. Understanding how entrepreneurial ecosystems work is also the topic of my PhD which I’m currently writing up at the University of Sheffield.

This blog post summarises some of my responses to the topics we covered in the podcast. For the full discussion, and to hear the contributions from Steve and Tom, you can listen to the podcast via your favourite podcast app here

Innovation in South Yorkshire: attributes and challenges

 

As a region, we are collaborative and genuinely want to see business owners succeed. We have two world class universities spinning out businesses, for example FourJaw who have recently raised £1 million, supported by one of the TEAM SY partners, NorthInvest. I’m excited about the activities that will support these spin-outs further, for example the Northern Gritstone fund which is seeking to raise £500 million to invest in businesses. The Sheffield Incubator and Accelerator Network (SIAN) brings together programmes managers from accelerators and incubators to share knowledge and best practice. This means that entrepreneurs and businesses are well signposted between the various offers. 

We have innovative businesses and people here, but we need our economic landscape to accommodate more of them. This calls for a bolder approach towards taking risks, i.e. for more people to think about turning those innovations into businesses. This doesn’t need to be a risky endeavour per se – with the right support, potential entrepreneurs can be encouraged and supported to take risks and fail fast within a supportive environment. It’s this kind of business support that the TEAM SY programmes (and others in the region) can provide. If our region performed better at innovation (i.e. if more people were supported to take risks) then I think we’d see more businesses start up here, and grow here, creating jobs for local people and for graduates of the two universities.

What can we learn about innovation from elsewhere?

 

South Yorkshire has already learnt a lot from other regions, certainly in terms of entrepreneurship. The TEAM SY approach is based on CASTS, a highly successful entrepreneurial ecosystem support programme that Capital Enterprise ran in London in 2017-2019. Of course, the challenges in South Yorkshire are very different to those in the capital city, but the expertise in working with partners and in entrepreneurial ecosystem support means that we’ve been able to embed a lot of the learning from CASTS. Our 16 partners mostly come from outside the region, and through them we are able to learn more about high quality accelerator programmes as well as bring in specific technical expertise. 

The Super Connector role that myself, Ceri Batchelder and Samantha Deakin fulfil at TEAM SY is based in part on the Scaleup Enabler role that was successfully implemented in Bristol in 2018. The driving idea is that it requires dedicated resources to connect up the entrepreneurial ecosystem, thereby making it easier for entrepreneurs to access the support they need. You can read more about the Bristol experience here, and follow the link on this page to download the Scaleup Enabler Yearbook.

We also shouldn’t overlook the fact that South Yorkshire can act as an exemplar for other places too. For instance Barnsley is leading TechRev, sharing their examples of good practice with six European partners as part of an URBACT network. The good practice from Barnsley is two-fold: first, there’s Enterprising Barnsley which provides tailored business support and investment. Enterprising Barnsley has been successful at leveraging private sector investment too: for every £1 invested by Enterprising Barnsley, they have been able to secure over £5 worth of private sector investment into the local economy. The second part of Barnsley’s good practice is the Digital Media Centre, a hub for digital and creative businesses, which is at 95% occupancy and delivers surplus income to the council through a wide range of activities. 

How can we promote more business innovation in the region?

 

We are lucky in South Yorkshire to have Sheffield Technology Parks and the Barnsley Digital Media Centre, both of which provide high quality support for early-stage ventures. What STP and the DMC provide goes beyond traditional business support: they provide a supportive community for entrepreneurs; highlight success stories which can inspire others; and support entrepreneurs in gaining the skills they need for their business to succeed. Both centres provide that opportunity to “fail fast” and we’d love to see similar tech-focussed support and incubation facilities in Rotherham and Doncaster too

At TEAM SY, we’ve long advocated for a public sector led co-investment fund in South Yorkshire. A co-investment fund leverages public sector and private sector funding to provide startups with the cash flow to cover a 12-18 month period. It’s a clever way to double a public sector funding pot, as half is offered by the co-investment fund and half by market investors. It also attracts private investment to the region and showcases the ventures we have here. Our TEAM SY partner programmes are supporting a large number of early-stage ventures which have the ambition to raise investment. We are creating a strong pipeline and we don’t want to lose that to investors from outside the region, when we could be de-risking their growth and enabling them to stay in the region. Enabling startups operating in high growth sectors to make the crucial transition from the startup to the growth phase means those companies will have the potential to create high-value jobs. Furthermore, startups gravitate towards geographies where funding is available. By requiring them to maintain a presence in the region, a South Yorkshire co-investment fund would encourage businesses to stay in the region

Closing thoughts…

Innovation can feel like a buzzword. The focus of most business owners and entrepreneurs on a day-to-day basis is to keep their business going, to increase sales, and to keep evolving so as to respond to market demands, and / or to make the world a better place. A lot of businesses are innovating all the time, but they might not see it that way. A tweak to some internal processes or a new way to bring on board clients, are both ways to innovate for example. Our regional policymakers already recognise the value of entrepreneurs and business leaders, and at TEAM SY we would strongly encourage policymakers to continue to put those entrepreneurial individuals at the heart of policy design.

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Food and AgriTech @ The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Food and AgriTech @ The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Food and AgriTech @ The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University

By Lauren Shale, Programme Coordinator, IoT Engine

Members of the Internet of Things (IoT) community came together at the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) for the latest South Yorkshire IoT Meetup on Tuesday 28th June. The theme was ‘IoT in Food and AgriTech’, with speakers focussing on the opportunity that IoT provides to monitor the food growing and manufacturing environments, and the solutions it offers to ensure that food production becomes more efficient and less wasteful.

Mark Davies, CEO and Co-founder of Sheffield-based cybersecurity company Ioetec, hosted the evening, welcoming guests to the NCEFE and introducing the theme of Food and Agritech.  Mark showed a video from Vodafone whose IoT technologies supported the production and delivery of strawberries to Wimbledon.

Deputy Director of NCEFE, Dr Hongwei Zhang, welcomed guests to the centre, sharing an overview of their key research themes and highlighting the work being done to apply and develop digital technologies including IoT, AI, and automation robotic solutions to accelerate the breakthrough of research in the region and beyond. 

Our first speaker was Ken Brockbank, Sector Manager for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. Ken spoke about Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in North and West Yorkshire, which has been recognised as a High Potential Opportunity for foreign investment, and promoted as a significant market opportunity to embassies and consulate offices around the world. CEA provides solutions to global supply chain and labour shortage problems, and the sector is looking to collaborate with IoT and tech companies to deploy sensors and make use of data analysis at an early stage in the supply chain.

Next to speak was Alec Anderson, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Koolmill Systems, who are working to provide a disruptive and sustainable processing solution for rice and other cereals. Rice is a $550 billion global industry and feeds 3.5 billion people daily, but current methods are  antiquated and wasteful, with enough rice to feed 600 million people being lost each year. Koolmill is developing the third generation of rice milling technology, introducing digitalisation, automation and IoT to optimise data capture and output, and create value. Their digital twinning technology further assists machine performance, enabling over 90% of power to be saved.

Finally, we were joined by David Dixon and Gabrielė Barteškaitė from Future Greens, a Sheffield-based indoor farm growing salad and microgreens in an innovative way that is good for people and the planet. They shared how their failed attempts to grow their own food during lockdown led to the discovery of indoor farming, which not only helped to overcome their own issues with poor soil, pests, and unpredictable weather, but also poses a solution to global supply chain issues. Future Greens now produces leafy greens at their indoor farm, using 95% less water and no pesticides. The pair are designing an automated system to reduce manual labour, and have developed a growing substrate that gives a clean crop, ready to eat. With machine vision and farm management software, they can apply IoT solutions to control climate and nutrient levels to optimise growing conditions.

All three talks stimulated discussion and questioning from the audience, before they were given the chance to take to the floor themselves to share any relevant IoT activity across the region. We heard from Advancing Digital at Sheffield Hallam University, offering training in key digital skills, as well as representatives from TEAM SY, who run various programmes of support from investment readiness to developing entrepreneurial mindset. One of these programmes is the IoT Engine, based at Barnsley DMC, which supports SMEs across the region to adopt, develop and integrate IoT products and solutions.

The evening finished with further networking opportunities over beer, pie and peas – which went down a treat!

Resources and Staying in Touch:

Link to the event recording: IoT Food – 28 June 22.mp4 – Google Drive 

To join the regional IoT community, please sign up to the South Yorkshire IoT Meetup newsletter, which will keep you up to date on IoT news and activity. SY IoT Meetup (list-manage.com) 

Acknowledgements: Thanks to the brilliant team at NCEFE for their support in hosting the event, Barnsley DMC and TEAM SY for sponsoring and You & Us Events for managing all the logistics.

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Space

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Space

SY IoT Meetup

IoT in Space @ Barnsley DMC

By Ceri Batchelder

“I THOUGHT THE PROGRAMME WAS EXCELLENT… LOOKING AT HOW THINGS WERE APPROACHED BY PEOPLE IN THE ROOM HAS HELPED ME THINK ABOUT TRADITIONAL TELCO PROBLEMS IN A NEW WAY.” – ANDY DAVIDSON, GROUP CTO & PRODUCT DIRECTOR @ ASK4

THE LATEST SOUTH YORKSHIRE IOT MEETUP AT BARNSLEY DIGITAL MEDIA CENTRE (DMC) ON 5 APRIL, BROUGHT TOGETHER MEMBERS OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) COMMUNITY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE GETTING CONNECTED EVENT IN NOVEMBER.

 

Welcoming everyone, Tracey Johnson, Barnsley DMC, emphasised that IoT is a big area of interest for Barnsley and there’s an ambition to create a home for opportunities around the technology. TEAM SY’s IoT Engine programme with Connexin is currently running from the DMC 02 Maker Lab and the DMC has hosted several cycles of IoT Tribe, the global accelerator for IoT startups and scaleups.  

 

About the Author
Ceri Batchelder

Ceri Batchelder

TEAM Super Connector

The evening was hosted by Mark Davies, CEO and Co-founder at Sheffield-based cybersecurity company Ioetec. Mark shared how the meetups are designed to help foster the IoT ecosystem in South Yorkshire, and each one is themed. Choosing the space theme was easy – Mark has been hooked on space since the age of 8 when he watched a rocket taking off at Cape Canaveral, and was later gripped when watching the Apollo moon landings.

Tracey Johnson, Barnsley DMC and Mark Davies, Ioetec

Our first speaker was Steve Clarke, Chief Operating Officer of Wyld Networks, a NASDAQ First North listed startup with the goal of providing connectivity in hard to reach places. They carry out the ground-based communication for satellite company and partner, Eutelsat. On the earth’s surface, there are large gaps in cellular coverage for physical assets. Wyld solves this issue by enabling data services from sensors on the ground via satellites for sectors such as agriculture, maritime and transportation – achieving 100% global coverage for low power direct sensor-to-satellite IoT connectivity. One of the early applications is for soil moisture monitoring for farming, improving yield whilst optimising use of a precious resource like water.

Next, Thomas Hutchinson, Space Development Manager at Space Hub Yorkshire, extolled the exciting space-related opportunities for businesses in Yorkshire, which is well-equipped to succeed in the sector thanks to its expertise in manufacturing, data analytics and AI, in addition to its strong and diverse talent pipeline. He encouraged participants to join the Space Hub Yorkshire network to keep in touch.

Thomas Hutchinson, Space HubYorkshire

Barnaby Atkinson joined us from Inmarsat, which provides satellite communication services globally for aviation, maritime, land enterprises and over 80 governments, through its own capabilities and its partners. Barnaby mentioned that there is significant expertise and talent in Yorkshire and the North that Inmarsat draws on. The company operates a geostationary satellite network – 3 satellites to cover the globe, each the size of a doubledecker bus! It has live IoT services in the rail industry, agriculture and utilities – for example autonomous trains running across Australia via satellite, irrigation system control and water/gas pipeline monitoring. Sensors are being used to bring efficiencies, such as remote evaluations of river levels, but in doing so, they also have the potential to save lives from flooding and landslides.

 

Barnaby Atkinson, Inmarsat

Rikki Coles, Programme Lead of IoT Engine, provided his take on the need for IoT checks before launching into space – very important for remote deployments. He shared a cautionary tale about the use of watchdog timers that can be used to protect against system lockups that could make code inoperable in IoT systems. There’s a need to remember to have them in play, but to carefully manage their activity. With a grin, he reminded everyone that they could avoid some of these problems by joining IoT Engine!

Lauren Shale outlined the opportunity for businesses in IoT product and service development with the IoT Engine programme. Startups and SMEs from a range of industries have engaged with Lauren and Rikki to explore the use of sensors and data, and to initiate some prototyping. It’s exciting to see IoT innovation happening first hand in South Yorkshire!

 Lauren Shale, IoT Engine

The event closed with a live demo of the PiKon telescope, an astro-cam that replaces the conventional eye-piece of a Newtonian reflecting telescope with a Raspberry Pi camera (with the lens removed). Inventor Mark Wrigley has utilised various platforms – from Thingiverse to Instructables – to get his product into the hands of stargazers worldwide. Mark took the audience through its workings and then offered demonstrations to give everyone a closer look.

Mark Wrigley, Elektric-Works

Resources and Staying in Touch

Link to event recording: https://purplewaveav.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/CurrentProjects/Eds1ewdh_JlJhjSOSyowIvgBm9oYsNxiJKT4LPtAg4T_qA?e=dRTSkc

Link to event video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LI7rOVnUcdtLqwQiAt7mZ9xDyxI-80Dr/view

To join the regional IoT community, please sign up to the South Yorkshire (SY) IoT Meetup which will keep you up to date on IoT news and activity.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Space Hub Yorkshire for sponsoring the meetup, Kane Fulton for the event video and photography and to You & Us Events for managing all the logistics

The GovTech Academy Showcase

The GovTech Academy Showcase

The GovTech Academy Showcase

Pitching Public Sector Innovations

By Laura Bennett

On 30th March 2022, the GovTech Academy (GTA) held a Showcase event to mark the end of their first cohort, and celebrate the successes of the participants. Since November 2021, eleven ambitious companies took part in regular learning and mentoring sessions with Tim Barnes, Programme Director of GTA, and a whole host of external speakers, all experts in different areas of public sector innovation.

The audience filled the room, and it was great to see representatives from the four local authorities as well as from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. We were joined by Lee Strafford, founder of Plusnet and one of Sheffield’s foremost entrepreneurs, who gave a welcome address. His was a somewhat cautionary tale about the importance of looking after one’s mental and physical health while building a startup – wise words for all of us.  

About the Author
Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett

TEAM Super Connector

He also waxed lyrical about why South Yorkshire was such a great place to build a business: not only is it a great place to live, but it is easy to make the connections you need for your business to success – whether that’s seeking out business support or connecting with a potential client – the willingness of South Yorkshire people to help others out is a big benefit to startups.

Seven of the cohort had volunteered to present their companies, and each provided an overview of their innovative products and services. There was a fantastic variety of businesses covering different aspects of public sector innovation – from improving the provision of childcare services (Famiio), and easy-to-publish content management services for community groups (Townbase), alongside urban tree management (Mapscape), and using AI and data to improve public sector procurement (Spend Network and Hivatic). We also heard from Doncaster-based Knowledge Pool, who provide digital capability training to communities, and Legal-Pythia, an AI-powered service which helps lawyers to keep on top of casework documentation. The audience was engaged and asked great questions, and there are a few follow-up conversations that are ongoing.

The sheer variety of companies and solutions just goes to show the breadth and depth of what we refer to when we say “public sector innovation”. Tim had opened the Showcase by telling us that Government was the biggest industry on earth, with 16% of global GDP and 15% of all employment – and that’s not including state-funded healthcare and education. The sector is ripe for innovation and presents a huge market opportunity for startups.

Reflecting on the 5 month programme, the GovTech Academy participants said that they particularly valued the sense of community that came from being part of a cohort. This is despite the majority of the sessions being run virtually. It proves the value in bringing together companies who share similar challenges. Gary Todd, founder of Famiio, summed up the experience of taking part in the GovTech Academy as follows:

“The GovTech Academy is a great opportunity to share, discuss and hopefully solve the range of challenges that face GovTech founders. During the various sessions, I was surprised at how many founders have or were going through similar issues, and there was usually someone on hand to share how they tackled and overcame these difficulties. Founding a startup is harder than it looks, and particularly in GovTech. The Academy has been a great experience to meet fellow entrepreneurs and equip us for the future.”

Claire Renwick, Programme Manager for the GovTech Academy said,

“The quality of companies taking part in this first cohort was exceptionally high. Our instincts were correct that there is appetite for this type of programme outside of London, and we’re very excited to do it all again with cohort two later on this year.”

 

Here at TEAM SY we are also very excited to see who will join the GovTech Academy on their next cohort. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when applications go live.

Q&A with Pedro Teixeira of Kinetikos Health

Q&A with Pedro Teixeira of Kinetikos Health

Q&A with Pedro Teixeira of Kinetikos Health

Spotlight on MedTech in South Yorkshire

By Philippa Hedley-Takhar

On Monday 20 June, Kinetikos Health, one of the companies currently on our P4SY Accelerator Programme, will present their research into improving management of Parkinson’s at the Neurology Academy, Sheffield. Full details of the event are available here.

Ahead of the event, we sat down with Pedro Teixeira from Kinetikos Health to understand what the company hopes to accomplish. 

Q. Tell us about the company and its goals. 

A. Kinetikos Health is a digital health company on a mission to revolutionise the standard of care for people with Parkinson’s. We exist to help healthcare providers, businesses and patients make patient monitoring more efficient and meaningful, towards improving the individual’s quality of life. We do this by combining research with technology to tackle the number one cause of years lived with a disability. The company was established in 2015 and has its headquarters in Portugal, with operations in Sheffield, UK.

 

About the Author
Philippa Hedley-Takhar

Philippa Hedley-Takhar

P4 SY Programme Manager

Q. How does your platform help patients and clinicians?

A. Our technology combines a medical-grade platform for healthcare providers and a Parkinson’s phone app for patients. The latter provide continuous monitoring of movement, symptomatology, and medication adherence in the patients waking hours. This helps clinicians to better manage their patients, individuals their own condition, and institutions their resources, leading to increased healthcare efficiency and improvements to the patient’s quality of life. 

The benefits are significant, from early detection of deterioration in a patient’s condition to the ability to track whether patients are taking their medication. It gives individuals more control and visibility into the management of their condition and lets clinicians prioritise patients for follow-up, which is an important part of how we can help healthcare providers allocate resources more efficiently. We believe that by enabling better shared decision making between clinicians and the individuals they treat, we can improve outcomes. 

Q. What are the big challenges to getting this tech adopted?

A. The biggest challenge to getting this technology adopted is engaging with clinicians and multi-disciplinary teams, often due to their workload pressure, and engage with people living with Parkinson’s and their families. However, it’s really critical that we develop these relationships, as well as with the wider Parkinson’s community and charities, as all these stakeholders are an important part of the adoption process – particularly to understand context and pathways of care. We believe our technology will help clinicians reduce unnecessary outpatient visits and avoidable hospitalisations, through improved communication with people living with Parkinson’s.

Q. Final question, where do you see the company in five years?

A. We are on a journey to evolve from a digital management tool for a pure movement disorder like Parkinson’s to address other conditions where mobility is relevant, like lower-back pain, depression, and obesity. The goal in five years is to start serving the US market. By addressing conditions like the ones we mention above, this represents a $600 million TAM and corresponds to a burden in excess of $850 billion burden which we can minimise.

Thanks to Pedro for chatting with us. If you would like to attend this presentation in partnership with the Neurology Academy in Sheffield, you can register to attend here.

P4 SY is a MedTech-focused accelerator based in South Yorkshire and a part of TEAM SY.

TEAM SY is an ERDF part-funded project delivered by Capital Enterprise and Barnsley Council. 

SY IoT Meetup – IoT in Space

TEAM SY Going Global

TEAM SY Going Global

By Ceri Batchelder 

 

As the name suggests, TEAM SY is a South Yorkshire-based project with the goal of stimulating the technology startup ecosystem in our region. Whilst South Yorkshire businesses are our main focus, we know that ecosystems function best when they are diverse and connected. So from the outset, we wanted TEAM SY programmes to benefit startups from anywhere in the UK, and even the rest of the world! 

Our first Get Funding Fit investment readiness programme in autumn 2021 attracted a number of international founders who had come through the Kollider startup visa programme – including a drone delivery business from Turkey, a regulatory compliance company from the Middle East and a Dutch speciality drinks business. By making South Yorkshire the launchpad for these companies in the UK market, our region is benefiting from their local spend, networks and recruitment. 

P4SY is a medtech accelerator, providing bespoke support for startups to integrate with the healthcare sector in South Yorkshire, providing a gateway to further market development across the North of England. The cohort is full of cutting-edge startups, applying technologies like Artificial Intelligence, gene therapy and new imaging approaches to clinical practice. Programme leads, Philippa Hedley-Takhar and Tamara Moon, are actively working with international businesses from Ireland, Portugal, Israel and Boston, USA.

An exciting new programme joining the TEAM SY stable is Blue Lake VC, an accelerator launched by two Ukrainians, that is focused on supporting international startups. The team has already created a presence in Sheffield Hallam University’s iLab for entrepreneurship, and is bringing their experience to enable local founders.

About the Author
Ceri Batchelder

Ceri Batchelder

TEAM Super Connector

Encouraged by this, through my Super Connector activity, I have been looking outside South Yorkshire to identify additional founders to join one of TEAM SY’s 16 programmes. I have recently connected with 5 startups in medtech, sportstech and property tech in the North West and North East of the UK, and from Romania on a recent trip, and am now exploring the best fit for them.

Attracting innovative startups to South Yorkshire is bringing an added dimension to our tech ecosystem and creating the potential for significant inward investment and job creation. This could be the start of something special!