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5 UK startups supporting next-gen automobiles

Publication Date: 25 Nov 2019 - By Manika Premsingh By Manika P.

Thematic Equity UK Global Automotive


The global automotive sector’s big changes are being driven by sweeping modernisations in automobiles and also the dynamics of the auto-marketplace. The big boys are no longer in charge like they once were.

Will all this going on, there are a number of startups behind the scenes that are sharpening particular aspects of technology that ultimately go into making these next-generation automobiles. The past few years have seen a number of startups being founded in the UK itself, supporting the automotive industry which contributed £18.6bn in value added to the economy in 2018. 

Here are the five promising auto-tech startups in the UK to watch out for:

#1. Pod Point: With environmental consciousness on the rise and the desire to reduce dependence on hydro-carbons, electric vehicles (EVs) could well become the technology of the future powering cars, even though less than 1% of all vehicles on British roads are run on electricity today. But what of the supporting infrastructure required so that automobiles can indeed transition smoothly to being run on electricity? That is where companies like Pod Point come in. Founded in 2009, it provides EV charging points across the UK. The potential is evident, from the fact that state backed French energy company EDF is in talks to acquire it. The company has 1,700 charging points across the country at places like airports and train stations, where it estimates a vehicle is charged once every 42 seconds on average. It has raised £12.3m in funding so far from seven investors that include Q Ventures and Barclays and has also gone down the crowdfunding route.

#2. Oxbotica: If EVs are one example of the car of the future, autonomous vehicles – or a combination of both – is another one. Startups are creating the requisite technologies to power self-driving cars, case in point being Oxbotica. The company’s technology powers Ford Mondeos, which had a trial run on public roads in London in October 2019. The Oxford headquartered company was founded in 2014 and claims that its internal system is dynamic and robust enough to be independent of third-party infrastructure like GPS and also that is gets smarter overtime. So far it has raised £22.6m in four rounds that includes funding from private investors, an Innovate UK grant and the initial funding from Oxford University Innovation. Its founders are Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner, both of whom are at the University of Oxford, from where Oxbotica was initially spun-out.

#3. DriverNet: The smartphone app is geared to creating efficiencies in logistics, specifically helping drivers navigate to spots, This is designed particularly for deliveries as well as other features such as providing safety alerts for lone workers, information on journeys, client profiles and vehicle safety. Started by Ant Chisnall, who spent 16 years working in logistics before taking the plunge, the company recently won the Merseyside Innovation Award, which also comes with a prize of £10,000. DriverNet has also received funding to the tune of £100,000 from Innovate UK, the DfT as well as angel investment. The company, which actually started out as an app to enable easier passage aged and disabled at St Helen’s council, a local authority in Merseyside, won the Sat Nav innovation award in 2017. More recently, it was a finalist for the TRANSTech Awards 2019, which according DriverNet said “recognises our innovative approach to safeguarding society’s most vulnerable passengers” through its solutions.

#4. Synaptiv: The company is a provider of a data analytics platform gathers data from sensors attached to current and next generation vehicles. Founded in 2016, it analyses a range of data like acceleration and breaks, fuel and tyres among others. Inmotion Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jaguar Land Rover is an investor in the company and has invested in a host of mobility startups which support both EVs and autonomous vehicles, which include the likes of Lyft, the US’s fastest growing ride-share company, Arc, which has developed the first fully-electric motorcycle and Zeelo, a pop-up coach service. Synaptiv has also raised £256k in three rounds from W2 Labs, which is an incubator of Wincanton, Britain’s largest logistics provider.

#5. Immense simulations: Based in Milton Keynes, this company was started in 2016 as a provider of ‘intelligent mobility solutions’. Initially, it was part of the UK government’s technology catapult for transport systems and is supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. Immense has raised $4.6m in three rounds of Series A funding from Japan’s 31 Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners – one of Europe’s most active investors in artificial intelligence, and Global Bain Corporation – one of Japan’s largest technology VCs. The company’s software is geared towards supporting autonomous vehicles by using mobile and public transport data and is working with companies like Ford (NYSE: F), Jaguar Land Rover (NSE: TATAMOTORS) and Bosch (BOSCHLTD.NS) to deliver solutions. The company’s solutions promise to both increase the level of efficiency on the roads as well as reduce costs. Immense Simulations is led by Robin North, who is also one of the four co-founders and Lead Technologist for the company.


I have no positions in any of the securities referenced in the contribution

I do not use any non-public, material information in this contribution

To the best of my knowledge, the views expressed in this contribution comply with UK law

I agree with the terms and conditions of ReachX

This contribution is for informational purpose and does not constitute investment advice nor is it an offer to sell or buy, nor is it a recommendation for any security.

Manika P.


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