Interviews

The most innovative companies in the UK

14 min read

20 November 2018

The Amazon Growing Business Awards' innovation category never fails to deliver, let's take a closer look.

The Amazon Growing Business Awards are back. Here’s everything you need to know about 2018’s finalists for one of the most competitive categories: Innovator of the Year.

On 28 November, the finalists for the 2018 Amazon Growing Business Awards will congregate at The Brewery in London, hoping to win one of 18 accolades. Ahead of the big reveal, here’s what you need to know about the innovative businesses that made the shortlist.

2018 Innovator of the Year finalists

Celebrating genuine innovation in all aspects of business.

Agilitas IT Solutions

Agilitas IT provides flexible and scalable inventory solutions.

CEO Shaun Lynn. Image source: LDC

CEO: Shaun Lynn
Growth story: From humble beginnings in 1990 as Computer Parts International Limited and later under the guidance and ownership of Acal plc, the company has grown to become a supplier of inventory management solutions and technical services. It has innovated in the development of its inventory-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, which has been the catalyst for customer numbers increasing by 85%.

“In the traditional model, resellers and IT companies have been forced to purchase enormous inventories of hardware to ensure customers are protected, despite not knowing what spares and new parts they might need. With our IaaS solution, costs are set monthly at a flat rate, and services can easily be scaled.” – Agilitas 

Alcove

Alcove provides personalised packages of assistive technology for older and/or disabled adults who want to live at home.

The Alcove team.

Founders: Hellen Bowey and Alexandra Eavis
Growth story: Founded in 2014, Alcove is a small tech company based in London that helps older and disabled adults remain safe using the internet of things. The company crashed through its first £1 million sales within 18 months – and aims to build sales capacity and fine-tune its insurtech proposition in the next 12 months.

“Our mission is to dismantle the existing telecare market, which is dominated by stigmatising hardwired pull cords and big red buttons that lack interoperability and provide little (if any) data. Alcove is the only system aggregator who has created a complete IoT ecosystem to replace fixed line telecare.” – Alcove

JustPark

Circling the neighbourhood for a parking space contributes 30% to city congestion – a statistic JustPark wants to decrease.

JustPark founder Anthony Eskinazi (right)

Founder: Anthony Eskinazi
Growth story: Founded in 2006, JustPark hopes to decrease C02 emissions by highlighting open car spaces. It does so through an app, which was built upon collected sensor data. Innovative features such as predictive availability have improved retention and drive growth from word of mouth, which it attributes over 50% of new sign-ups to.

“Using machine learning algorithms and sensor data, JustPark have built a pioneering, industry-first system for predicting the future availability of individual parking bays – in collaboration with Westminster City Council.” – JustPark

MATRIX BOOKING

Matrix Booking creates meeting room and desk booking software.

Managing director: Kieron Murphy
Growth story: Over the last 12 months, Matrix Booking has set its sights on helping companies work smartly. Through its software, employees can book meeting rooms and desks any time from anywhere. It provides users with the ability to view and book resources across their entire global estate from a single device – and benefits from the research and development efforts of Keytree Labs.

“With over 100,000 employees using the software in the public sector alone, Matrix Booking is a key component in maximising workplace management efficiency. A pure SaaS resource booking system, open and secure, Matrix Booking is highly flexible, offers solutions for individual organisations, multi-tenant infrastructures and collaboration networks.” – Matrix Booking

Rootwave (Ubiqutek)

Rootwave presents a more cost-effective method of killing weeds.

Founder Robert Diprose.

Founder: Robert Diprose
Growth story: Ubiqutek – branded as RootWave – is in the process of pioneering the use of electricity to kill weeds. Having been awarded £1.4 million in UK and EU grants, the company aims to develop agricultural solutions for cereal, vegetables and fruits and is currently integrating its technology into several agricultural machinery companies.

“The weed control industry is dominated by herbicides, which accounts for the majority of the $31 billion market. This industry is under significant pressure becauseweeds are becoming increasing resistant to herbicides, andregulators are banning their use. Our technology is sustainable and organic using electricity to kill weeds.” – Rootwave

Vizolution

Vizolution is a technology provider that helps enterprises streamline complex customer journeys.

Founders: Bill Safran and Huw Rees
Growth story: The Vizolution suite of omni-channel products was born from a problem affecting complex remote journeys, which typically suffered from high costs and high customer drop-off rates. Today, it is used by 30 global enterprises from the financial services, telecoms and utilities industries, with its patented SaaS solutions typically delivering over 40% increase in sales conversions and 50% reduction in transaction times.

“While other technology providers may provide a single-trick solution to solve problems within a journey, e.g. signing contracts or verifying identity electronically, Vizolution is unique as it offers a truly end-to-end platform that streamlines a journey from the first purchase or service enquiry, through to resolution.” – Vizolution

ZapGo

ZapGo technology reduces a mobile phone’s charging time from eight hours to five minutes.

Founder: Stephen Voller
Growth story: ZapGo was founded in 2013 with technology from the University of Oxford in the UK, with the vision to produce much better batteries for the modern world. The company has raised $20 million to date and is raising a further $30 million to produce the next generation of patented technology.

“The goal is mobile phones that charge in seconds, cordless appliances like cleaners, drills and hair straighteners that perform as if they were plugged in – and electric vehicles that charge in the same time it takes to fill a tank with fuel today. We are also enabling the national grid to cope with the increasing demands of fast charging electric vehicles.” – ZapGo

2017 Innovator of the Year finalists

Celaton

Celaton pioneered the application of machine learning as a platform, enabling organisations to achieve efficiencies that were previously out of reach.

Delivered as a service, inSTREAM™ applies machine learning to streamline labour intensive clerical tasks and decision-making to transform the way organisations process the plethora of unstructured information received from customers, suppliers and employees every day by post, paper, fax, email, social media and many other electronic data streams.

It’s machine learning, but to our customers it’s the best knowledge worker ever hired.

Complete Utilities

We have developed a game-changing new technology which will help deliver the next generation of ultrafast, full fibre broadband to homes in rural areas of the UK.

Thanks to our innovation, the new broadband network will be constructed 30 per cent quicker and will cost 30 per cent less, resulting in fewer disruptions for local communities and cost efficiencies for our clients, the ISPs that provide the broadband service.

We are the only company in the UK to use the technology within carriageways, on a large scale, making it a genuine first and positioning us as a true innovator in our field.

GUARDHOG

Having worked in the home-sharing market and understood how the lack of insurance was slowing growth within the sharing economy, we innovated and have pioneered not just a whole new way of consuming insurance, but a completely new, the world’s first, insurance product.

We combine modern technology, big data and AI to create efficient and accessible insurance, all for a brand new and rapidly growing economy.

On top of this, Airbnb, probably the biggest sharing economy game-changer in the 21st century so far, has called us “game-changers”. If anything underlines real innovation, cutting-edge ground-breaking innovation then that is it!

Revolut

Users can sign up for an app-based current account in just 60 seconds.

Users can hold, exchange and transfer with 26 currencies within the app with interbank rates. They can also get access to instant credit in their account that is 50 per cent cheaper than the big banks.

Revolut is launching an investment product that will allow users to invest their “spare change” from transactions into company stocks and bonds, and will soon allow users to buy, spend, hold, exchange and transfer cryptocurrencies within the app.

SeedLegals

We have transformed a legal process that used to take months into a few days and clicks.

Since launching just five months ago, SeedLegals now helps more startups complete funding rounds than any single law firm in the UK.

WeSwap

In just two and a half years, WeSwap has brought a whole new digital and operational model to a stale and traditional industry, already establishing itself as a leading, much loved provider in the space – despite operating in one of the most competitive markets for travel money in the world.

The business has consistently shown a commitment to finding innovative solutions to its users’ problems, alongside a commitment to building a sustainable long term business.

As a result, WeSwap had one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history, has seen remarkable, consistent growth, and is rapidly disrupting the industry.

Wine Picker

The app has been doing well, with 20 per cent new weekly downloads. Following that success we are moving towards the trade.

There are about 0.5m wines on the planet (not counting vintages), most wine distributors still provide 1,000 wines catalogues. Using printed portfolios to make a wine list is outdated, in a world were efficiency matters, digitalisation is going to be the key.

We are shaping this future, building a solution where you will be able to seamlessly create a wine lists and convey the changes to all your staff and electronic supports in a single click.

ZoneFox

While Machine Learning has been used to combat other cyber security threats, ZoneFox AI is the first time such an advanced level of the technology has been used to hunt threats and battle insider threats.

Driven by Machine Learning, ZoneFox AI is able to harness specially developed User Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA) to spot abnormal user behaviours and patterns.

This truly expedites threat hunting and investigation, resulting in rapid detection and valuable, actionable security insights, thus reducing the burden on the already stretched security operations team.

The Amazon Growing Business Awards is headlined by Amazon and sponsored by Santander, Bridges Fund Management and ECI Partners. It is supported by CBI, the Department of International Trade and Real Business. This year, the awards partnered with Beanstalk, a charity that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to provide consistent, one-to-one literacy support to children aged 3 to 13.

Interested in attending the Amazon Growing Business Awards?
Get your ticket or book a table here.