• 10 companies have been awarded a total of up to £100k
  • Up to half of cohort in the process of laying down roots in Sunderland

The 10 startups making up the first cohort of the Sunderland Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G Accelerator have revealed why they were drawn to Sunderland and how the smart city is supporting their business growth for 2023 and beyond.

From the six-week programme (which ran from late October to December 2022), the 10 participating companies have benefitted not only from the expertise of Sunderland’s world leading tech partners, but they’ve also gained invaluable peer-to-peer support from likeminded trailblazers in the group. Furthermore, over half of the cohort have now set roots in the city by securing business premises to continue their growth journey.

Launched by Sunderland City Council, in partnership with global communications infrastructure provider BAI Communications (BAI) and leading tech sector support organisation Sunderland Software City (SSC), the programme represented a unique opportunity for the 10 chosen startups to benefit from IoT domain expertise and guidance from internationally renowned partners, as well as the chance to access up to £10k each in grant funding.

The inaugural cohort consists of: Awaretag, which specialises in providing smart tech for healthy homes; cyber solutions provider Cystel; better healthcare enabler Digimonk; NHS technological solutions provider, FloKi Health; Krellian, creator of smart building solutions; industrial IoT disruptor Manulytica; intelligent and sustainable heritage management startup Roxid; smart city transportation management firm Simplifai; tech-forward startup in the Web3 space, Trigan; and real-time data facilitator, Urban Data Collective. Find out more about each organisation in this short video.

Mark Gardner, Startup Growth Manager at Sunderland Software City, said: “The programme delivered above and beyond our expectations. The ambition and capabilities of the talented group of businesses involved was palpable, and their thirst for knowledge was refreshing to see as they truly embraced all that the workshops, mentoring and training had to offer.”

Claire Venners, General Manager at BAI North, said: “The success of the programme’s first cohort highlights Sunderland’s growing reputation as a forward-thinking smart city, driving innovative businesses and use cases as a result of growing technical proficiency, prolific partnerships and city-wide digital transformation.”

Naomi Hutchinson, chief innovation officer at Sunderland City Council, said: “Our city-wide investment in next generation infrastructure is laying the foundations for many homegrown businesses and inward investors to evolve and grow, right here in Sunderland.

“Accelerating the progress of this cohort of innovative businesses has been an honour and a fantastic opportunity to experience first-hand the scale of innovation and progress happening in our smart city.

“And now, following the completion of the first accelerator programme, is where the hard work really begins. We are committed to continuing to support these companies to achieve their desired success in Sunderland.”

One of the cohort’s participants now choosing Sunderland as their base, is FloKi Health, a technological solutions provider to the NHS, empowering NHS Trusts to make better informed decisions, save time and increase equipment uptime via their tech-fuelled app.

Fenwick Smith, chief executive at FloKi Health, said: “The fact that Sunderland has created this infrastructure and has a vision, is absolutely tremendous. The development around the city, the infrastructure and the partners – they’re all an attractive environment to come to and to hopefully develop working relationships and potentially more revenue.”

Krellian creates smart building solutions to help businesses to meet their net zero targets and have a more positive impact on the environment, whilst saving money. Ben Francis is the founder of Krellian and is looking forward to his business’ future in Sunderland.

Ben Francis said: “Sunderland has set itself some pretty ambitious net zero targets and I’d like to help them to meet those targets. Being part of this smart community of other founders who are working in a similar area, has meant we could learn from and support each other. Also, the networking and mentorship from the experts in the field has certainly propelled my business growth plans and the future of the company in the city.”

Recognising Sunderland’s leading role in the automotive and advanced manufacturing sector, Manulytica was drawn to Sunderland over a number of other 5G and IoT programme opportunities to advance their business plans.

William Fish, founder and managing director at Manulytica, explained: “We’re building a partnership with Sunderland Software City, BAI Communications and Sunderland City Council to help push forward our 5G connectivity plans. We’re still exploring possibilities with it, as we are working on the very boundaries of what 5G can deliver for our business and the manufacturing base here in Sunderland.

“We’re pushing the industrial arena to move to a smart factory and smart machinery that relies heavily on data communications, which is where the facilities offered to us via the IoT and 5G Accelerator, and Sunderland’s rich industrial heritage are a perfect pairing.

William Fish continued: “There are a number of 5G incubator and testbeds across the country, but to me Sunderland stood out. As a North Yorkshire-based startup, we immediately saw the benefit of working in partnership with Sunderland, not least because of its close proximity, but because of the symmetry between the city’s ambitions and our own.”

Keen to open opportunities for other aspiring startups to benefit from Sunderland’s IoT and 5G Accelerator, there are plans to run more programmes in the future.