Top Tech Startups in Manchester | 2022

Top Tech Startups in Manchester | 2022

12 May 2022

Share

Over the last few years, it’s become increasingly clear that Manchester tech startups are a force to be reckoned with. In a recent report with Barclays Eagle Labs, we spotlighted Manchester as one of the strongest technology ecosystems in the UK. And today, we’re taking a closer look at the top early-stage tech companies the city has to offer. We also explore why Greater Manchester is such a good place for new businesses to set up shop, from its abundance of startup accelerators to equity investment.

Manchester: the UK’s biggest tech hub (besides London)

Manchester is one of the UK’s top startup hubs, home to nearly 1.5k high-growth companies. It also boasts the country’s biggest tech ecosystem outside of London, with 433 ambitious technology businesses currently headquartered in the county. The city’s greatest startup success stories include e-commerce giant The Hut Group (THG) and eHealth firm Push Doctor, both now exited, alongside numerous spinout companies from the University of Manchester.

Together, private tech startups in Manchester employ an estimated 13.8k people, primarily operating in the software-as-a-service (SaaS), internet platform and mobile apps sectors. And in 2021 alone, Greater Manchester tech companies secured £501m worth of publicly-announced and unannounced equity deals, across 116 funding rounds.

What makes Manchester such a good place for tech startups?

There are several reasons why Manchester’s tech ecosystem is so strong. As already noted, the city is home to the University of Manchester, which offers extensive support to startups and scaleups in the region. The university’s Innovation Factory is driving IP commercialisation, with a focus on creating spinouts within computing, life sciences, engineering and manufacturing, and physical and social sciences. 

The university has also built a biotech centre at the Manchester Incubator Building and offers lab space at its Core Technology Facility. In fact, there are several incubators and accelerator programmes based in Manchester, offering world-class facilities and business support, such as Bruntwood SciTech and Enterprise City’s Exchange scheme for early-stage tech startups. Manchester also offers great transport links to other leading startup ecosystems, easily accessible to London in the South and Leeds in the North. 

Investment is another big driver of Manchester’s burgeoning tech landscape. Indeed, we track several funds that focus specifically on investing in companies headquartered in Manchester and the North. These include Manchester-based angel network GC Angels, which backs innovative businesses in the North West, and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF). NPIF is a collaboration fund between the British Business Bank and 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships across the North of England. It’s supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and has multiple fund managers (most notably, Maven and Mercia Asset Management).

Another very active VC fund in the North is Manchester-based Praetura Ventures. According to the firm’s Managing Director, David Foreman:

“Manchester’s tech sector has been quietly growing for several decades and we’re now at a pivotal point where it’s starting to gain global recognition. That’s thanks to large-scale public companies like The Hut Group, but also newer startups like Matillion and Peak—this next generation of tech businesses are proving that early champions in Manchester were an emerging blueprint for the city.”

Explaining why Manchester is such a great ecosystem for tech startups, Foreman says that “a lot of that is down to the region’s strong sense of community. Unlike in London, we’ve found there’s a greater emphasis on giving back to the startup ecosystem in the North, especially among later-stage investors. That spans the M62 corridor, to both Leeds and Liverpool, with Manchester acting as a focal point. Two-thirds of Praetura’s portfolio are based in the North of England, and we’re actively creating relationships with both seed and later-stage funders that are passionate about playing a role in the ecosystem there.”

We also asked Foreman how he expected the landscape to change in the coming years: “Manchester is known as a hub for fast-growing media and retail companies. But, looking forwards, I expect to see exciting businesses in the city emerging from a broader range of industries. It’s likely too early to say which of these will be the next big thing in Manchester, but the one thing they all have in common is their focus on developing and deploying great tech.”

Top 20 Tech Startups in Manchester

Top 20 Tech Startups in Manchester

We’ve used the Beauhurst platform to generate a list of the top tech startups in Manchester, by the amount of equity investment received to date. Each of the businesses in this ranking are headquartered in the Greater Manchester area and currently operating at either the Seed or Venture stages of evolution. We’re only looking at private companies, so our results exclude big names in the region such as the Hut Group that have already undergone IPOs or acquisitions.

Founded:

2016

Sector:

Fintech

Total amount raised:

£30.9m

01. Orka

The first in our list of leading tech businesses in Manchester is Orka, which develops software to allow shift workers access to temporary roles within traditional, regulated industries. Features such as in-app tracking and payment options enable workers to find shifts, manage their schedules, and choose when they’re paid. 

Over 60k people currently use Orka products, which use the latest artificial intelligence and automation to develop simple solutions to complicated tasks, helping both workers and businesses. Since launching in 2016, Orka has attended both the Upscale and PwC Scale accelerators, receiving startup mentoring and support. 

In March 2022, the fintech company announced a new £3.00m equity investment from Praetura Ventures, with a total of £30.9m raised to date. Orka’s other backers include Sonovate and the Future Fund.

Founded:

2006

Sector:

Clinical diagnostics

Total amount raised:

£25.1m

02. Zilico

Zilico is a healthcare tech startup, based in Manchester Science Park. It specialises in the design and manufacturing of early-cancer, real-time medical diagnostics. The clinical diagnostics company was founded in 2006, following a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

The company’s flagship product, ZedScan™, works to tackle cervical cancer. It uses Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) to improve the ability to detect abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix, following an abnormal cervical screening result. The result? Increased diagnostic accuracy. 

As of 2021, its ZedScan technology was being used regularly in 10 hospitals across the UK. Zilico is now expanding its product development into other areas such as oral cancer diagnostics. So far, the healthtech company has received over £120k in innovation grants, alongside £25.1m worth of investment.

Founded:

2015

Sector:

eHealth

Total amount raised:

£24.4m

03. Evergreen Life

Evergreen Life is an eHealth business, based in Salford, Greater Manchester. This B-Corp certified business is enabling people to bring their health information and GP records together in one hassle-free mobile app. Users can book GP appointments, order NHS prescriptions, and access health and wellbeing insights to give people greater control over their health.

The company is an NHS-assured provider of GP services through its app. In early 2020, it won the NHS: Primary Care Award at the Medilink’s Healthcare Business Awards 2020. In late 2021, the digital health startup acquired Salvie Ltd, the creators of the askmyGP online consultation, enabling Evergreen Life to offer a wider scope of operations. The company has raised £24.4m in investment so far, across 14 funding rounds. 

Founded:

2017

Sector:

Pharmaceuticals

Total amount raised:

£21.9m

04. Neophore

Another innovative healthcare startup, Trafford-based NeoPhore develops cancer therapeutics. The healthtech company creates small molecule immuno-oncology therapeutics to target genetic mechanisms that (studies suggest) will promote neoantigen creation, stimulating the immune system to improve outcomes for patients. Essentially, it develops therapies that make cancers more easily recognised for the immune system to destroy.

In March, NeoPhore and St. George’s University of London announced the expansion of their research partnership (which began in 2021) to develop first-in-class therapeutics. NeoPhore’s investors include 3B Future Health Fund, Astellas Venture Management, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund and Claris Ventures. Altogether, it has raised £21.9m in investment, and an innovation grant worth £790k.

Founded:

2018

Sector:

SaaS

Total amount raised:

£17.2m

05. Sourceful

SaaS company Sourceful develops supply chain software to source sustainable packaging. Co-founders Wing Chan and Shiran Zheng started the tech company to help clients reduce their cost and environmental impact, using aggregated logistics. Sourceful enables users to quickly create interactive 3D prototypes, see live data on their carbon footprint, price and delivery, and use an automated inventory management system through an all-in-one platform.

Sourceful’s one-stop-shop packaging supply chain system is now used by leading small businesses such as Floom, Stitched, and Fenton. In total, the tech startup has raised £17.2m in equity funding, with investors such as Index Ventures, EKA Ventures and Venrex Investment Management.

Founded:

2020

Sector:

SaaS

Total amount raised:

£13.4m

06. Raycast

Founded in 2020 and based in Trafford, Raycast has created an app that gives developers quick access to tools and reduces burdensome context switching. The quick, extendable launcher connects with GitHub, Jira, and G Suite (among others) to allow developers to work better and easier, creating bespoke workspace solutions. The vision? To create a platform and developer community around productivity tools, and ultimately improve the developer experience.

Raycast was founded by former Facebook engineers Thomas Paul Mann and Petr Nikolaev, who have a proven track record of building internal tools that are adopted by engineers. In just two years, the software developers have raised over £13m in investment, with Raycast backed by the likes of Accel, Chapter One and Coatue Management.

Founded:

2004

Sector:

Precision medicine

Total amount raised:

£12.9m

07. Cytox

Precision medicine company Cytox is transforming prognostics and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This Manchester-headquartered tech startup collaborates with academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies to develop non-invasive tests, to help efforts for effective dementia treatment. Its mission is to improve how people are screened, new treatments are developed and patient care is handled along the way.

In the 18 years since its founding, the University of Birmingham spinout has secured 11 rounds of funding, amounting to £12.9m in funding. Cytox has also received 14 grants, worth £1.60m in total. The company’s investors include Maven Capital Partners, Wren Capital, and UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund.

Founded:

2010

Sector:

Pharmaceuticals

Total amount raised:

£11.2m

08. Proveca

The next Manchester-based tech startup on our list is Proveca, a pharmaceutical business that develops drugs to tackle chronic medical conditions in children. It was established in 2010 by Dr. Helen Shaw and Dr. Simon Bryson. The co-founders recognised that a large proportion of medicines children take were (and still are) in the wrong format or aren’t licensed for their use. Proveca’s focus is on providing children with vital medicines, in the appropriate format.

Proveca was featured on the Top 100 list of Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses in 2019. The healthtech company has also received more innovation grants than any other startup in this list, with 10 to its name so far, amounting to over £1.11m in funding. Alongside this, Proveca has secured £11.2m in equity investment, backed by Albion Capital and GM&C Life Sciences Fund, among other investors.

Founded:

2012

Sector:

Adtech

Total amount raised:

£10.9m

09. Powerlinks

PowerLinks is an automated advertising technology (adtech) platform that distributes personally and contextually-relevant advertising to audiences. It provides tools that enable brands to deliver dynamic, personalised messaging through ads, with marketers able to reach 1b+ consumers and over 400k sites and apps.

PowerLinks attended the Microsoft for Startups accelerator in 2017 and, after 10 years of operating, the business has grown global, with offices in New York, London, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam. It was entered on The Startups 100 high-growth list in both 2014 and 2018, and has secured five rounds of equity funding to date, worth £10.9m. PowerLinks has garnered backing from the likes of Envestors, Foresight VCT, and GC Ventures, to name a few.

Founded:

2018

Sector:

SaaS

Total amount raised:

£10.5m

10. Pimberly

Pimberly is a subscription-based software developer that manages product data and digital assets for a wide range of businesses. By combining cloud-based technology with smart SaaS software, the Pimberly co-founders have created a powerful product information management platform. The tech startup is backed by investors such as NPIF Equity Finance and NorthEdge Capital, with £10.5m raised in total.

Pimberly credits the Manchester tech hub as part of its heritage, explaining that it’s “proud to have a Northern soul”. The business now helps leading global brands such as Kier, Marshalls, and JD Sports to offer faster, better e-commerce experiences to customers. It is also the second Manchester-based company on our list to attend Tech Nation’s Upscale accelerator.

Founded:

2011

Sector:

Cleantech

Total amount raised:

£9.49m

11. Evergreen Energy

Also on our list of top Manchester startups is cleantech company Evergreen Energy. The renewable energy firm and consultancy business was set up by social entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Stephen Critchlow to provide sustainable energy sources. It’s built multiple commercial wind farms and also offers renewable energy system design and installations.

In 2017, Evergreen Energy ranked in the Top 100 – Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses list. The Salford-based startup has also secured a £184k Innovate UK grant, alongside six equity fundraisings, totalling £9.49m worth of cleantech investment.

Founded:

2007

Sector:

Medical instrumentation

Total amount raised:

£8.98m

12. Imagen Therapeutics

Another fast-growing healthcare business in Manchester is Imagen Therapeutics. The biotech company is focused on improving the outcomes of cancer patients by accelerating the development of new treatments and drug discoveries. Since being founded in 2007, Imagen has reached a number of significant milestones, launching its diagnostics platform, developing machine learning capabilities, and undergoing clinical collaborations.

Imagen has secured eight rounds of equity funding so far, worth £8.98m in total, and awarded over £320k in innovation grants. The company is backed by crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, as well as Envestors and Gateley, to name a few.

Founded:

2012

Sector:

Cleantech

Total amount raised:

£7.74m

13. Steamaco

Founded in 2012, Steamaco is a Manchester-based cleantech company, developing Internet of Things (IoT) smart metre technology for emerging markets. The tech startup’s goal is to create and facilitate electricity markets in emerging economies, while helping utilities to detect theft, win trust and boost revenue.

Steamaco’s successes have been recognised by the 100 SmartTech Innovators 2020 high-growth list, as well as a Finance for the Future Innovative Project 2020 award. It has received over £1.50m in grants and £7.74m in investment. Its backers include Praetura Ventures, Shell Ventures, and GReeN investor group.

Founded:

2011

Sector:

Recruitment

Total amount raised:

£7.63m

14. Careerpass Network

The next tech startup on our list is graduate recruitment company Careerpass Network. The talent solutions business combines owned media, creative and employment services with internet platform technology.

The Manchester startup has gone from being the most followed student and graduate careers platform in the UK (under the name GradTouch.com back in 2017) to acquiring Kaampus and merging with SRS (rebranding as Careerpass Network in 2020). The company has since acquired Gradcore and Graduate-jobs.com as well, proving it could overcome the significant hurdles thrown at the recruitment industry by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Careerpass has secured £7.63m in equity investment so far, backed by the likes of Maven VCT, Mercia Fund Managers and the Future Fund.

Founded:

2019

Sector:

eHealth

Total amount raised:

£7.50m

15. Prevayl

eHealth startup Prevayl operates a smart sportswear brand centred around wearable technology. Its products offer consumers next-gen biometric data, accessible via the Prevayl app, to enhance their athletic performance. It works by combining SmartWear® clothing, a sensor that’s designed to blend into the garment, and a mobile app to capture over a million data points each workout.

Prevayl was founded by former personal trainer Adam Crofts and serial entrepreneur David Newns. Since launching in 2019, the company has quickly gathered momentum on social media, and now counts athletes Declan Rice, Kadeena Cox, and Josh Denzel among its supporters.

Overall, Prevayl has secured £7.50m in investment, from a single round with digital-first consumer brand investment firm Stonebridge (and other undisclosed investors).

Founded:

2017

Sector:

Telecomms

Total amount raised:

£6.30m

16. Invosys

Invosys is a Manchester-based tech startup that provides telecommunications services. It is working to push the boundaries of communications, claiming to offer transformative solutions to businesses, helping them run their phone systems more easily. According to Invosys, the company has so far supported over 50k global users, managing more than 1b minutes.

Working with a variety of businesses, from financial institutions to marketing agencies, Invosys was recognised for its work in 2018, when it was featured in The Northern Tech 100 high-growth list. The business counts Santander Corporate & Commercial as one of its investors, and has raised a total of £6.30m so far, via one funding round.

Founded:

2020

Sector:

Internet and networking hardware

Total amount raised:

£6.00m

17. Freedom Fibre

Founded in 2020, Freedom Fibre is one of the youngest tech startups on this list. The fibre network provider has a vision to create an affordable, optical fibre network that will last for generations. It wants to ensure that everyone can access full fibre, high-speed broadband, and works with internet service providers to optimise the UK’s network.

Freedom Fibre’s investors are undisclosed to date, but we can see from the company’s active social media accounts that it’s working hard in the North West and beyond to spread the word about full-fibre. The Salford-based company has raised £6.00m in equity investment so far, in just one fundraising.

Founded:

2017

Sector:

Pharmaceuticals

Total amount raised:

£5.87m

18. Utility Therapeutics

Utility Therapeutics is an innovative pharmaceuticals firm that’s on the front line of the fight against antibiotic resistance. The healthtech company is focused on developing and commercialising two European-approved antibiotics in the US (pivmecillinam and mecillinam) for the treatment of urinary tract infections and other drug-resistant bacterial infections.

Founded in 2017, Utility Therapeutics is currently headquartered in Trafford, Greater Manchester. While the tech startup has secured £5.87m in investment to date, across two funding rounds, its investors are currently undisclosed.

Founded:

2018

Sector:

Research tools/reagents

Total amount raised:

£5.83m

19. Holiferm

Holiferm is a technology development company that’s using sustainable, fermentation-derived ingredients for industrial and consumer products. Its proprietary technology was developed by its co-founders at the University of Manchester. Since spinning-out of the university, Holiferm has used this technology to develop a low-cost production process for a selection of lipid products.

Holiferm’s pioneering work was recognised this year as they won the Innovation Award at the Chemicals Northwest Awards. It has also already attended two accelerators, the SME Leaders Programme and Enterprise Fellowships. At the time of writing, the tech startup has received over £1.9m via innovation grants and raised a total of £5.83m worth of equity investment. Holiferm’s investors include Rhapsody Venture Partners and Clean Growth Fund.

Founded:

2017

Sector:

Artificial intelligence

Total amount raised:

£5.63m

20. Mindtrace

The final tech startup on our list is Mindtrace. Founded in 2017, the Manchester-based venture delivers artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that enable clients to reduce costs and increase their product and service capabilities. Its Brain-Sense™ technology is part of Mindtrace’s wider vision to deliver ‘AI brains’ that can perceive, understand and learn, closely resembling human brains.

Mindtrace’s next-generation AI system has garnered a lot of press over the past few years, for what looks set to be the next step in machine learning: ‘unsupervised learning’. The tech company has a large number of investors already, including Accelerated Digital Ventures, Mercia Asset Management and Skylake Capital. It has raised £5.63m in investment, across five funding rounds, alongside a £68.7k innovation grant.

Discover all of the UK’s top tech startups

Get access to unrivalled data on all the companies you need to know about, so you can approach the right leads, at the right time.

Book a 40 minute demo today to see the key features of the Beauhurst platform, as well as the depth and breadth of data available.

An associate will work with you to build a sophisticated search, returning a dynamic list of organisations matching your ideal client profile.

“It’s taken us an eternity to find the same companies that Beauhurst listed in just minutes!”

Sign up today to get a free demo where you can access the platform.

We’ll help you navigate the platform, so you can:

Everything will be customised around your business and needs, so you can explore relevant data and get the most out of the platform.

Did you know? Beauhurst is the only provider of unannounced fundraisings data—which account for 70% of all fundraisings. Don’t miss out! Sign up now.

Enter your info now to try Beauhurst:

Beauhurst is a single source of truth on the UK’s high-growth economy – it truly is our guiding light in finding the right businesses to approach.

Propel.svg
BGF.svg
BGF.svg