Deloitte Technology Fast 50 2020 reveals five companies from across the region

Pictured: VoCoVo product

Levelling up? There’s still a way to go for UK tech companies if the latest Deloitte technology Fast 50, the well-established UK technology awards programme, is to be believed.

Just five companies from across our region are included in the 50-strong list. 39 are based in London, with just four in the North West and the rest scattered across the country.

On the bright side, there are more companies from our region than last year, when just three were named on the list.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50, now in its 23rd year, celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship.

This year the following companies based across our region made the list.

Highest up the list is Vocovo listed at 11. This business sells its wireless headset technology to retailers such as Asda, Halfords and Wickes. Based in leafy Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, the company, which appears in the Fast50 for the second year running (last year it was down at number 34), offers voice-enabled products for all kinds of retailers.

Founder Rob Gamlin said: “Among this year’s new features, we have voice-enabled self-checkout interventions, allowing colleagues to boost throughput while observing social distancing. We also allow head office colleagues to send messages using DM tools such as Teams and Slack, which we voice enable for teams on the shop floor.”

The company has expanded into Europe, where it is in 21 countries, and is now making inroads into North America.

At 24 in the listing, is Reading-based consumer insights and analytics company Qmee. New this year to the list, Qmee was founded by former Goldman Sachs trader Jonathan Knight and serial entrepreneur Nick Sutton in 2012. The business collects data, insights and opinions from the public on behalf of brands and polling organisations in exchange for cash and other benefits, using a sophisticated tech platform powered by machine learning.

The uncertainty in 2020 prompted many brands to up their engagement with Qmee. Jonathan said: “Businesses wanted to know what users were thinking because everything was changing so fast. We have grown really strongly over the last few months.”

The company likes being in Reading, thanks to the number of tech skilled people. Jonathan said: “There is a lot of talent here.”

At 25 in the listing is Seeker Digital, like Qmee appearing for the first time. Bristol-based Seeker Digital is an independent agency that specialises in outreach, link building, onsite content, and technical SEO. It says it works with all brands but especially likes working on Software as a Service (SaaS).

Oxford-based synthetic biology company Oxgene, which also appeared last year (at 48), is at 39 this year.

Oxgene, based in Oxford, is a biotechnology company specialising in gene therapy, gene editing and antibody discovery. It has delivered a third consecutive year of 100 per cent plus revenue growth, more than doubling revenues in its financial year ended 30 April 2020. This continued growth has been fuelled by a combination of strategic licensing agreements and service delivery projects, including a strategic partnership with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. The company’s continued growth has been recognised recently by The Sunday Times’ Fastest Growing Tech 100 at position 19. At 41 is Edgbaston, Birmingham-based CrowdProperty, an online direct peer-to-peer lending business.

The fast-growth firm has now lent £100 million to property professionals through 230 loans across 170 residential projects. Co-founder Michael Bristow, said: “We selected that £100 million of lending from £3.8 billion-worth of project applications. We are very picky.” Even the COVID crisis couldn’t dent growth: “We have funded 65 projects since lockdown,” He said: “Those projects sold out in less than a minute on average after listing them on our platform.”

Last year Oxford Nanopore made the Deloitte technology Fast 50, but doesn’t appear this year, despite playing a major role in the UK’s response to Covid-19 and raising more than £84 million in new capital in October.