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Two Northern Irish Tech scaleups selected in Top 10 UK Rising Stars

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, today announces the 10 early-stage scaleup winners of its nationwide competition, Rising Stars. These companies have been selected because they are at the forefront of UK technology, across a range of subsectors, providing solutions such as digitally connecting healthcare workers with communities, digital recruitment for schools, and tools for online content creators.


Two Northern Irish companies have been selected, data analytics & business intelligence company Budibase and Healthtech business Elemental



Founded in 2019, Belfast

Building custom software for your business in minutes, without coding, Budibase is an open source, nocode platform used for building web applications, to digitise your business. Small to medium sized businesses and digital consultants use Budibase to build and host apps, or for supporting their self-hosted deployments.


Mike Shanks, CEO, Budibase, comments: “We are very proud to be a Rising Stars winner! Thank you, Tech Nation, for giving us a platform to showcase our vision for the future of software development.”



Founded in 2013, Derry

Elemental is an award-winning tech for good company with the purpose of empowering and enabling individuals, families and their carers to better connect into community-based programmes, services and interventions that make a positive impact on their lives. Through an innovative digital platform, it provides teams with the technical connectivity they need for multi-sector partnership working, leadership, and the measurement of mobilisation of support where needed.


Jennifer Neff, CEO and Co-founder, Elemental, comments: “This is massive for us, it’s absolutely amazing and really shows all the hard work we’ve put into Elemental. It recognises our fantastic team, it recognises our amazing platform and also all the support and mentoring we’ve had over the years to really show that we are one the Rising Stars winners. It also puts Derry on the map as a great place to start a business and grow a business.”



Many have adapted their products and solutions during the pandemic, and have continued to make new hires. Some companies have doubled in size over the past year, as the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of the economy, especially in sectors such as HRtech, healthtech and edtech.


The announcement comes as new data reveals the resilience of the early-stage UK tech sector over the past year. Pre-Series A investments have grown by 10%, up to $481mn in 2020, with healthtech and fintech raising the most money by subsector at pre-series A. Investment into pre-Series A fintech increased by 58% to $70mn, while investment in early stage edtech companies boomed, reaching $28mn last year. London, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Nottingham were locations which raised the most pre-Series A investment in 2020.


The pre-Series A landscape across Europe has been mixed. The French early-stage ecosystem demonstrated growth, with a 35% increase in pre-series A in 2020 to $282mm, whilst Germany saw a decrease of 79% to $125mn.


The Rising Stars competition is the only national early-stage tech scaleup competition in the UK, designed to showcase the most exciting companies at Seed to pre-Series A from all areas of the country. The ten winners have been selected as Rising Stars through a rigorous competition process, with more than 330 applications received.


On average the Rising Stars winners go on to raise £352k after the competition, and grow their workforce by 70%. The Rising Stars, all founded between 2013 and 2019, follow in the footsteps of some of the most successful companies emerging in the UK tech ecosystem. 2019 winners Tickr went on to raise £1m through Seedrs, and SeedLegals, went on to raise Series A funding of over £3m led by SeedCamp and Kima Ventures. 


The virtual nature of the competition this year has meant that taking part is accessible to founders from every corner of the UK. The virtual nature of the competition has also been credited with increasing access for women founders. The 2020 Rising Stars winners are the most diverse cohort yet, with 50% of the winning companies having women founders and co-founders, up from 40% in 2019, while 80% of the winners are from outside London.

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