Yesterday, we proudly hosted Liverpool City Region’s Tech Climbers List Reveal for 2023 at Love Lane Brewery in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle - and what an event it turned out to be! Our biggest yet, with the tech community turning out in full force to support the region’s best IP-led tech businesses. From the live music to the buzz of networking, the atmosphere was electric.
Couldn’t make it? No need to worry, as we’ve rounded up the highlights, and pulled out the key talking points from our amazing speaker panels.
About Tech Climbers
For those that are just hearing about us, our Tech Climbers list celebrates the top-performing, IP-rich and product-led technology businesses in the local region, with an additional ‘Ones to Watch’ list that highlights those that are up-and-coming in the community. List entries opened in October and have been judged by an expert panel of advisors within the local region.
Welcome from our host
Once everyone had grabbed a drink and found their seat, Chris Maguire, editor at BusinessCloud welcomed everyone to the event. He explained how fierce the competition had been this year, so if you didn’t make either list, please stay in touch and apply next year, as so much can happen over 12 months.
Ones to Watch list
10 businesses made the ‘Ones to Watch’ list, which was our first announcement of the evening. From women’s health to diagnostic platforms, there was a real mix of businesses that are all set to make a massive impact on the local tech scene.
Speaker panel one
Next up was our first panel of speakers – Chelsea Slater, CEO at Innovate Her, Claire Lewis, CEO at Baltic Ventures, and Emma Jarvis, founder of Parent Promise by Dear Bump.
Chelsea, an associate partner, and 2023 judge, explained that the mission of InnovateHer is to get girls ready for tech, and the industry prepared for girls. As a business, they create learning platforms to educate and interest girls in the tech world, while also supporting businesses in developing ED&I goals and strategies. A key message that came from her Q&A with Chris was that Liverpool’s tech community is slipping behind Manchester in diversity data collection, saying “Manchester released digital skills audit this week, stating that women make up 24% of their region’s industry, which is a 6% drop from last year.” She stressed that this information is crucial to know and should be funded annually, adding “Having the annual data would help us identify the gaps within the community and launch projects to support businesses.”
Next up, Chris welcomed Claire Lewis to the panel, who spoke about the recent launch of Baltic Ventures, announcing the launch of their first cohort of ten pre-seed tech businesses in September. As a business, they’re on a mission to give start-ups a platform to support and accelerate their business growth.
She reflected on her journey, explaining “I founded my company in 2005, I sold my flat and put all my money into it and that was the only option available then. We’re in a period where if you want to access international markets as a tech business, raising funding is really important, meaning it’s key to make sure it’s accessible.” Focussing on businesses at the pre-seed funding stage, Baltic Ventures are trying to level the playing field by showing founders how to speak the language when attempting to secure investment. She also mentioned that the cohort wouldn’t just learn about funding, the programme would also be about supporting start-ups in building a solid, sustainable business.
The final talk on our all-woman panel came from Emma Jarvis from Parent Promise by Dear Bump, which made the ‘Ones to Watch’ list this year. A scientist, Emma set up Parent Promise to help businesses become family friendly. They run an end-to-end policy review consultation to shape an employer’s perks, which can help to attract talent and prevent women from leaving the workplace.
Parent Promise built up a pot of funding through a £40,000 grant from real-world evaluation with NHS Innovation Agency and LCR Health Matters, a £150,000 LCR angel investor, and crowdfunding. The company has also accessed £40,000 from the LCR High Growth Fund which they’re using to collect insights on employee and employer challenges around pregnancy in the workplace. When asked about offering any tips to other businesses looking to raise funding, she said “I went into it blind and had no idea what to expect. The best thing to do would be to prepare beforehand by speaking to others who have done it in the past”
A final comment from Chris was around what it meant for Parent Promise to have made the ‘Ones to Watch’ list, to which Emma replied, “It’s amazing to be recognised and be a part of this community. 81% of funding goes to London, so it’s really important that we come together as a local community and support each other at events like this.”
The main list reveal (part one)
With the Tech Climber’s list celebrating 25 businesses this year (wow), we split the announcement into two. After a celebration of the reveal, we jumped straight into our second panel of speakers who all made it onto the list this year.
Speaker panel two
First up to speak was Antony Shimmin from MyCardium AI. MyCardium use AI and sophisticated algorithms to improve the measurements of heart function. Antony explained how the technology makes more accurate decisions, “Humans are prone to error, and our AI technology removes this. The precision of AI has a significant impact on treatment decision making – just a single % change could dictate a treatment decision, and some of these are life or death.”
When asked about his investment journey, Antony gave a shoutout to LYVA Labs for their support around the business' growth, and Tilson Ventures for supporting the financial modelling that informed their investment strategy.
Dr Adam Sykes, founder and CEO of Swiftcase, was next to speak on the panel. He explained that Swiftcase is a solution that empowers businesses to build their own software without any code. This allows people to improve their business and get the most out of their data at a click of a mouse. The business is completely bootstrapped and grown organically, with remote working saving costs.
When asked about how it felt to make this year’s Tech Climbers list, Adam said “We’ve had our heads down for the best part of ten years, and it’s been amazing to come here today to see there is such a large tech scene in the area. It’s great to be recognised as a part of that.”
Churning his way through the panel, Chris moved on to Jen Fenner, co-founder and Managing Director at DefProc Engineering. DefProc Engineering is an innovation partner for a wide variety of businesses – from Northern Gas Networks and environment agencies to small start-ups that are trying to get their products to market. Jen spoke about one of her most recent innovation projects – creating a domestic hydrogen sensor to enable gas companies plan to roll out hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas. Northern Gas and Wales and West Utilities have created a hydrogen village, with DefProc brought in to create a blueprint for a domestic hydrogen sensor that can be taken to manufacturers and implemented at a cost-effective price.
DefProc made our ‘Ones to Watch ‘ list back in 2021. When asked about making it onto the main list this year, Jen said, “It’s brilliant! To be part of this whole ecosystem of people, and to have that recognition that we’ve grown and taken a step forward by moving onto the main list”
The final speaker of the panel was Adam Triantis, co-founder of DCYPHER, which uses AI technology to scan a person’s face and manufactures a unique foundation shade to perfectly match the skin tone. The conversation centred around the business’ investment journey, with Adam sharing that they’ve raised funding through both local and international investors. He highlighted the importance of events like Tech Climbers saying “With investment, it’s often who you know. The investors we’ve ended up with found us, which comes from having these networks”.
The list reveal (part two)
To round off the speakers, we announced the second half of businesses that made this year’s list. As you can tell from the panel, there was a mixed bag of recognised businesses this year, but every single one that entered is making a difference to the lives of those inside our region, and around the world.
Our Liverpool City Region Tech Climbers for 2023
Check out the official list to find out a bit about each company.
At the event, businesses could vote for their favourite business that made the list. There were twenty-five worth winners, but only one could come out on top - and we can now announce that the winner was DCYPHER. I think we can all agree from Adam’s talk that it’s a ground-breaking piece of technology for the cosmetic world.
Closing words from Anna and Frankie
To end the event, Active Profile’s Anna Heyes, and Frankie Hutton, said a few closing words. Anna started, “The idea behind Tech Climbers was always to showcase and celebrate our region’s tech businesses, which is what tonight has been all about, but it’s also about creating the list and showcasing stories to investors so we can fill the funding gaps within the industry.”
Frankie added around the prize packages that we’ve included for the first time this year, “Our partners have kindly offered prize packages for those that made the list this year, including IP, investment readiness, EDI health check and internet connectivity.”
After a big round of applause for all our entrants and shoutouts to our supportive associates and partners, the space was cleared for an evening of networking, with drinks provided by ReCulture Recruitment, and plenty of Pizza sponsored by Rathbones. It was great to work our way around the room and chat to all of you!
As our latest Liverpool campaign ends, the focus shifts to our Yorkshire launch, with Anna also announcing that we’ll be launching in a third region later this year. Keep your eyes peeled for news on that.
A massive thank you to all the partners - Avison Young, BDO, Marks & Clerk, and Brabners - as well as all of our associates (Gather, Growth Platform, Innovate Her, LCR Connect, LYVA Labs, Rathbones, ReCulture, Startup Grind, Tech Nation, UKRI, & Zut Media) that have helped us throughout the city region campaign, we hope you join us again next year. Finally, a big shout out to Love Lane Brewery for providing an amazing venue, and our speakers for sharing their journey.