News from our London office

Tech attention turns to Northern England

Technology clusters in the U.K. tend to be primarily in the south of the country ranging from Cambridge in the east via ‘silicon roundabout’ in London out along the M4 Corridor via Oxford to Bristol in the west. With a high proportion of startups and scale-ups in these regions, considerable time is spent by the FCEDA’s U.K. office in speaking at conferences and working with those local companies.

Recently, however, there has been a proliferation of tech companies in what the U.K. government terms the “Northern Powerhouse”: towns and cities that traditionally have been involved in much heavier industry such as steel manufacture, shipbuilding and automotive. Some of the startups are based in incubators that have found homes in refurbished Victorian-era factories.

On June 5 and 6, the FCEDA was invited to speak at conferences about doing business in the U.S. in the city of Newcastle and town of Rotherham in northeast England.  The FCEDA met with about 25 technology companies at each event, many working from those former mills and linking a proud industrial heritage with exciting visions for the future. Those visions, for many, could well include a presence in Fairfax County.

The new AMP Technology Centre at Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. (Photo, AMP)

U.S. expansion makes sense for aerospace firms

For the third year, Ian Metcalf, director of the FCEDA’s U.K. office, attended and met with presenting companies at the National Aerospace Tech Programme. This year’s event, held in May, took place at the Old Thorns Country Club in Surrey.

Many of the attendees view expansion to the U.S. as the next logical step in their growth. Several were looking for partners in the U.S., particularly in the composites field which currently has funding available to promote transatlantic cooperation. The research team at FCEDA headquarters in Tysons was able to quickly identify potential local partners, further encouraging U.S. ambitions.

About 20 companies presented their ground-breaking technology advancements, ranging from robotic manufacture of complex composites to novel techniques for localizing and neutralizing GPS jammers that can disrupt navigation and the safe operation of airports.

The NATEP, sponsored by the government of the U.K., encourages companies to team with supply chain partners and potential end-users of technology. Supporting the event, representatives from both Boeing and Airbus (each with a presence in Fairfax County) gave keynote speeches.

New Work with Newable

Newable, which provides finance, consulting, and property services for start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses in the U.K., launched a program to help growing companies make the first steps into the U.S. by minimizing set-up costs and the complexity of making and retaining its first hires.

Newable is holding a series of conferences with SMEs and scale-ups, and invited FCEDA U.K. director Ian Metcalf to speak on the role of economic development authorities and the support they can provide to companies interested in a U.S. presence.

On May 13, Metcalf attended a glitzy launch, hosted by Justin Webb, former chief U.S. correspondent for the BBC, now with the “Today” radio program. Members of Parliament and the House of Lords were well represented, as was the Department for International Trade.

Umbrella policy for a Fairfax County firm

AppTek, developer of an AI and machine learning-based speech recognition and machine translation platform that is based in the McLean area of Fairfax County, formed a systems integration partnership with U.K.-based yellaUmbrella. The U.K. company will integrate AppTek’s automatic speech-recognition and translation technology with its Nebula and Stellar media processing systems.

Inova and Dublin’s Deciphex seek to accelerate

Deciphex Ltd., a Dublin, Ireland-based company that uses artificial intelligence to review lab samples more quickly and more accurately, accepted a $25,000 investment to sign on with the Inova Personalized Health Accelerator.

Deciphex helps pathologists and microbiologists quickly spot abnormalities in specimens. The company, which expects Inova to help it gain access to samples for clinical trials as it readies its product for market, recently raised $2.5 million.