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Future 50 retrospective: Innovating big for the future

The Future 50 campaign, which aims to shine a spotlight on disruptive businesses that are innovating big up and down the UK, is once again on the horizon.
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The Future 50 campaign, which aims to shine a spotlight on disruptive businesses that are innovating big up and down the UK, is once again on the horizon.

As we eagerly anticipate the next 50 disruptive businesses, we thought now would be a perfect time to remember some gems from years gone by.

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Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

Business: Endomag
Sector: Medicine
Year founded: 2007
Future 50 class: 2012

The demand for better, faster and less expensive cancer treatments is growing, and Endomag is innovating big. It is developing a clinical platform that uses safe magnetic fields to power diagnostic and therapeutic devices, avoiding the safety, workflow and availability concerns of ionising radiation.

“Since 2012, Endomag has developed and launched new products that help simplify treatment for breast cancer patients. In 2013 we received a CE Mark for Sienna, a magnetic fluid used to help surgeons determine if cancer has spread,” said Matthew Stephens, commercial director for Endomag.

“Sienna is a simpler alternative to the current radioactive technique and has been used with 20,000 patients, multiple clinical trials and launched in 30 countries. In 2016 we received FDA clearance for Magseed, a new device for marking impalpable breast lesions – a replacement for the current hook wire procedure that often fails to remove all the cancer in one surgery.”

Business: Optimity
Sector: Telecoms
Year founded: 2003
Future 50 class: 2016

Optimity is a technology services provider, and according to founder and CEO Anthony Impey, the past 12 months have seen big changes for the brand as it has been innovating big.

“During the second half of last year, the team secured significant investment from FPE Capital, enabling the company to offer many more businesses an alternative to BT and Virgin using its pioneering alternative to fibre internet connectivity, that doesn’t have the premium cost or wait,” he said.

“We’ve already seen some major customer wins in the last few months, and have now embarked on a major recruitment drive in order to double our headcount to over 100 people during 2017.”

Business: UK Energy Partners
Sector: Energy
Year founded: 2011
Future 50 class: 2015

UK Energy Partners is also innovating big – it designs, builds, retrofits, maintains and funds affordable solutions to improve energy efficiency. It aims to transform the energy performance of buildings to surpass the net zero standard as often as possible.

“In the two years since we were part of the Future 50 event, I am pleased to confirm that our progress and growth has been rapid. In the intervening period we attracted a major investor in Cabot Square Capital, who have brought rigour and capital to our invention and drive. As an off-site builder to the education sector, we have now completed over 50 projects, all of them radically energy efficient in their designs; the most energy efficient school buildings in the UK,” said Neil Gething, founder and commercial director.

“Three years ago we were a fledgling business with a disruptive, tech-led building idea. Now, we are well on our way to becoming an established and respected supplier to UK schools and the early support we received from Real Business was a welcome confidence boost.”

Business: Jukedeck
Sector: Technology
Year founded: 2012
Future 50 class: 2014

Jukedeck is all about bringing Artificial Intelligence to music composition. The business is training deep neural networks to understand how to compose and adapt music, so it can give people the tools to personalise the music they need.

“Lots has happened since Future 50. We launched our first product – Jukedeck MAKE – and users have made nearly one million tracks on the site,” said co-founder, Patrick Stobs.

“Tens of thousands of YouTube videos have now used our music, from cat videos to massive YouTube stars. Moreover, brands like Coca Cola have used Jukedeck for their music, and we won a Cannes Innovation Lion in the summer of 2016. Finally, we’ve continued our R&D efforts, recently announcing that we’ve created the first song composed and produced entirely by neural networks.”

Business: Movebubble
Sector: Property
Year founded: 2012
Future 50 class: 2014

Movebubble was born out of its founders’ terrible experiences with the London renting market and their subsequent desire to create something better. The platform offers an in-app chat feature where renters can talk directly to agents to ask additional questions and build rapport to secure their home in faster times.

Aidan Rushby, CEO and co-founder of Movebubble, said: “Looking back on the last three years it’s amazing to see how far we have come. When we first started, the property industry was extremely closed minded when it came to any form of innovation; be that implementing technological infrastructure or changing traditional attitudes towards renters. Now, I’m delighted to see such a positive response from negotiators and the wider industry ready to put renters first.

“Since launching in 2014, Movebubble has received $3.42m in investment. This is something that we are incredibly proud of and shows our dedication and passion for delivering the ultimate experience for young professionals looking to rent a home. Our goal now is to expand outside of London, so people across the UK, and overseas, will be able to experience how simple and efficient renting should be.”

Business: Biscuiteers
Sector: Food and drink
Year founded: 2007
Future 50 class: 2011

The Biscuiteers is also innovating big – it makes hand-iced biscuits, and has recently expanded its offering to include cakes and chocolates.

The Biscuiteers has worked with brands like Net a Porter, Gucci, Burberry and Virgin to create bespoke client gifts. From logos to designer dresses, its biscuit icers can copy almost anything.

“Since the award Biscuiteers has gone from strength to strength. We have continued to grow our direct online gifting business but have also moved into multi-channel retail, said Harriet Hastings, co-founder.

“In October 2012 we opened our very first Icing Café in Notting Hill, which is home to the Biscuiteers School of Icing.  A second icing café followed in 2014 on the Northcote Road in Battersea. At the end of 2016 we completed a very successful round of crowdfunding, raising £1.2m to help support the further expansion of the business. The new investment will to help us accelerate growth with increased marketing spend and invest in key manufacturing infrastructure.  We already sell worldwide online and are also looking to expand our international focus.”

Business: Sphere Fluidics
Sector: Research
Year founded: 2010
Future 50 class: 2015

Sphere Fluidics’ analytical instrumentation and collaborative research services enable rapid screening and characterisation of single cells and their biological products helps businesses innovating big in research, biotherapeutic discovery, bioproduction, cell therapy engineering, drug discovery and diagnostics.

“Since March 2015, Sphere Fluidics has been progressing product development and manufacturing. To help, they raised £7m in investment over two funding rounds,” said Frank Craig, CEO.

“This has been spent on developing their novel single cell analysis system (called Cyto-Mine®) for biotherapeutic discovery. The Company has also hired 11 more employees and opened a subsidiary in the US. This has been supplemented with the signing of various distributor agreements in France and Switzerland with Germany, China and Japan now being targeted. Last financial year they generated £2m in income and, in FY2017, they are targeting £5m in income and profitability.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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