teenager on a computer, gaming, cyber security

Linda Smith, CEO of tech accelerator BetaDen, gives the low down on some of exciting emerging tech stories coming from the Shires.

Well known for Royal Worcester porcelain, gloves, the Kays catalogue and Worcestershire Sauce, few people think of Worcestershire as one of the UK’s most successful tech hubs. Yet, Malvern – just seven miles south west of the cathedral city of Worcester – has a rich history of developing revolutionary technology dating back to WWII, with potentially world-changing technologies and solutions also being launched from the area throughout 2021.

Malvern Hills Science Park was established over 20 years ago, adjacent to one of Britain’s largest defence and security firms, QinetiQ (Malvern). Spin-out companies eager to exploit QinetiQ’s lead in defence and security-focused technologies, and an exciting cluster of technology start-ups, are now situated at Malvern Hills Science Park (MHSP) – the heart of Malvern’s Cyber Valley.

Accelerators and testbeds

MHSP is also home to one of the UK’s first government-funded 5G testbeds. Following the completion of its successful 5G Testbeds and Trials programme, it now offers Testbed as a Service to UK manufacturers through the nexGworx brand.

These 5G testing facilities are just one reason an impressive number of emerging technology companies are now based at the park. BetaDen – an independent, commercial tech accelerator – is just one of these, supporting ambitious technology-driven businesses to commercialise their offers and producing some great UK tech success stories of its own:

Cyber security

One such company making a cyber breakthrough from the current cohort is Wembley Partners, which this month launched a one-stop-shop cyber incident management platform called ORNA.

Based at tech accelerator BetaDen, and with offices in Cheltenham, Delaware and Toronto, its ORNA platform fully encapsulates every aspect of the SANS incident response process, which includes automatic report generation, accelerators, analytics, team and task management and KPI tracking.

ORNA is set to  disrupt the entire current cyber incident management sector by automating every step of the process, replacing paper-based plans, manual reports and inefficient tracking with a fully automated platform that offers step-by-step guidance at a price point that is affordable for small businesses.

PCR test delivery by drone

DronePrep is another BetaDen alumni making waves with world changing technology. The company, which is creating the world’s first map of commercial drone airspace, has been trialing drone delivery of medical supplies to remote areas of the UK during the pandemic.

Despite being just two years old, it has achieved some pretty innovative and pioneering milestones already, including leading the first medical drone airbridge to the Isle of Wight, trialing a second medical airbridge to the Isles of Scilly and partnering with Skyports, what3words, and Royal Mail to become the first UK parcel carrier to use a drone to deliver a parcel.

Several exciting projects are in the pipeline for this year too, including a project to explore the viability of using drones to deliver to rural communities.  DronePrep is backed by HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Esri, Microsoft for Startups and BetaDen.

Construction safety and distancing technology

Innovation in small firms is an important initiator for wider technical change.

BetaDen start-up PLINX has been based at Malvern Hills Science Park since completing the 9-month accelerator in 2020. In May, it was awarded the contract to provide 1,500 helmet-mounted devices to be used by site workers on the HS2 project. These devices, worn on the helmets of workmen, use wireless technology to monitor how close staff members are to each other and potential hazards. When they get within two metres, the devices beep, vibrate and flash, advising them to stay apart.

As well as improving construction site safety in normal times, the technology can also be configured to encourage social distancing between workers, reducing  potential illness outbreaks and time lost to close-contact Covid-19 isolation requirements.

5G at sea

Other successful start-ups coming out of BetaDen include JET Engineering (JET) which has developed the world’s first self-powered, floating 5G buoy to monitor sea-state safety and provide real-time data on sea conditions.

JET is also known for its 5G at Sea solution, a novel use of 5G in littoral and open water domains.  This is part of JET’s rapid development path to a full 5G mesh communications network capability that will be deployable in any maritime environment and deliver high bandwidth connectivity to multiple platforms running an array of sensors.

This capability is critical to enabling Industry 4.0 and IoT systems to operate at sea (and in other remote locations) and will benefit multiple industries including green shipping, renewable energy generation, safety, security, and recreation, as well as  supporting research into climate change.

UK Innovation

Worcestershire is just one of several diverse pockets of innovation around the country, where small agile tech start-ups are partnering and securing contracts with established British firms to deliver nimble technology solutions to the world’s problems.

According to Tech Nation, in the space of a single year, the UK has shattered all records, with technology investment soaring by 44 per cent to over £10 billion – more than France and Germany combined – and becoming number one in Europe for developing emerging technologies.

Supporting and illuminating the work of our tech hubs in the Shires, which make a huge contribution to the UK’s success in tech, can only be a good thing.

Applications to join Cohort 5 of BetaDen open in October. For further details visit www.beta-den.com

Linda SmithAbout the author

Founder and CEO of commercial technology accelerator BetaDen, Linda Smith is an experienced commercial director with a demonstrated history of working within the security technologies sector. Previously director of Insight Vision Systems, a design and manufacturing company that specialised in covert surveillance and thermal imaging camera systems, she developed the export business to represent 75% of turnover, selling into 38 locations worldwide. She also spent five years as director for International Trade at the DIT, supporting growth and developing international opportunities for businesses across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.