26 June, 2017 - 22:08 By Tony Quested

More ‘Killers’ on the loose in Cambridge Science and Tech cluster

photorealism Robotae

A new wave of AI and machine learning companies allied to a surging tide of activity in the hi-tech and Life Science sectors has brought fresh dynamism to the region and The Killer 50.

Six new faces grace the fresh list of ‘Killers’ launched today – the 50 hottest businesses in the East of England leveraging cutting edge science, technology and innovation.

Their presence emphasises that this gallery of gamechangers remains a stranger to stasis and a champion of scaleup. Standing still is not an option. That factor is also evident in our list of 126 Ones2Watch – businesses attracting increasing numbers of global customers or winning investment and keeping the Killer50 on their toes.
 
There are 17 newcomers in Ones2Watch so the two lists collectively represent a constantly rolling escalator rather than a set of static stairs.

Four startups are among the six new ‘Killers’ – 8power, FiveAI, SuperX and Z Factor. The other two to break through are machine learning global player Grapeshot and hi-tech sensors manufacturer Zettlex.

Life Science duo SuperX and Z Factor each have profilic BioMedTech entrepreneur Jim Huntington as founder or co-founder and are backed by David Grainger’s Medicxi.

The Huntington-Grainger-Trevor Baglin connection produces an unprecedented hat-trick of successes for this thoroughbred stable as another of their startups – Apcintex – is also a new entry to the Ones2Watch pantheon. Reflecting the importance of Life Science and digital healthcare businesses to the region’s economy and global reputation, there are 18 such companies in The Killer 50 and 45 in Ones2Watch – 36 per cent of the total.

New this time round is the selection of a magnificent seven ‘gazelles’ – companies in the Killer50 that in our view have packed on financial and reputational muscle in the past 12 months to underpin impressive international scaleup.

Our fleet-footed friends, in alphabetical order, are Bango, Congenica, Darktrace, Featurespace, Grapeshot, Horizon Discovery and Owlstone Medical. Their achievements are highlighted in a separate article – ‘Killer Gazelles: predators, not the prey’ – within this feature.

As one would expect in the world’s leading cluster of tech product design companies, Cambridge Consultants and TTP make The Killer50 while Team Consulting and 42T are breathing down their necks as Ones2Watch – as is new ‘kid’ on the consultancy block Robotae.

Cambridge Medical Robotics, which develops next-gen universal robotic system for minimal access surgery also makes the Ones2Watch list. The company aims to make minimal access (keyhole) surgery universally accessible and affordable by significantly expanding the range of procedures that can be performed robotically. CMR successfully completed preliminary cadaveric trials in May 2016, which will inform further cadaveric, animal and first-in-human trials.

Global annual revenues for robot-assisted minimal access surgery are presently approximately $4 billion and are anticipated to reach $20 billion by 2025 ('Industry Forecast, Accuray Research’).

Also in the robotics arena, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge-based Robotae is rapidly making a name for itself where it counts. As befits a company joining such a rich tapestry of businesses, Robotae literally illuminated fabric for a leading digital fashion show.

How to capture the visual texture of fabric for high-end, online retail was the challenge that fashion retail startup Change of Paradigm (Paris and London) and University College London gave Robotae as part of a 12 month Innovate UK-funded project.

Change of Paradigm is developing a B2C e-commerce platform offering exclusive capsule collections from independent womenswear designers. They aim to provide luxury fashion to ‘digital native’ millennial women at an affordable price, by selling exclusively from photorealistic 3D-simulated garments before they’re produced, eliminating over-production.

In this early stage of the programme, Robotae has designed a gonioreflectometer to take images of textile samples from different angles, illuminated from many directions to measure their reflectance.

By gathering these visual properties, the eventual 3D rendered images will display accurate texture and movement of the materials. Robotae’s director, Dr Kevin Rathbone, designed and built the device at Robotae’s offices in St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge, including construction of a purpose-built darkroom to house the system.

The client said they were looking for “a unicorn” – and Robotae has been highly praised for coming up with a legendary solution!

Robotae has also provided expertise for a number of entrepreneurial products, including sleep sensing headphones ‘Kokoon’ and digital ski coach wearable ‘Carv’. 

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The gonioreflectometer, developed by Robotae to enable higher levels of photorealism

The Killer 50

* Indicates new to The Killer 50
8power *
Abcam
Abzena
ARM
AstraZeneca
AVEVA
Avita Medical
Bango
Bicycle Therapeutics
Bromium
Cambridge Consultants
Cambridge Intelligence
CCS
Congenica
CRFS
CyanConnode *
Darktrace
DefiniGEN
DisplayLink
Domino
Endomag
FiveAI *
F-star
Featurespace
FlexEnable
Frontier Developments
GeoSpock
Grapeshot *
Healx
Horizon Discovery
Inivata
Kymab
Mission Therapeutics
Owlstone Medical
PlayFusion
PragmatIC Printing
PROWLER.io *
Raspberry Pi
RealVNC
Sepura
Simprints
Speechmatics
Storm Therapeutics
SuperX *
TTP
Ubisense
Undo Software
Xaar
Zettlex *
Z Factor *

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