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Data innovator Rubik Technologies Awarded £75,000 grant by Techstart Ventures and Digital Catapult in Smart Nano NI Challenge

Today, Techstart Ventures, an early-stage technology investor, and Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, have announced that Rubik Technologies has been awarded £75,000 in grant funding to further develop its pioneering solution to manufacturing challenges. The award followed a competition that involved eight leading technology companies competing in a pitch to an expert audience in Belfast as part of the Smart Nano NI Manufacturing Innovation Challenge.

Competition winner, Rubik Technologies, helps businesses to leverage the power of digital technology for data-driven business growth. Its winning solution, Data Mule, simplifies access to actionable business intelligence for mid-sized manufacturers to drive better performance. With the £75,000 grant Rubik Technologies plans to use the funds to invest in its solution to build out a minimum viable product (MVP) with a handful of carefully selected manufacturing partners.

Led by Digital Catapult, as part of the Smart Nano NI consortium, the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge programme saw eight small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across Northern Ireland develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges in the manufacturing sector before competing for £75,000 grant funding. The programme culminated yesterday with a showcase event at The MAC Belfast, where participants Aeroblue Software, Badger IoT, Eleveg, Nigma, NUA-VR, Rubik Technologies, WipFusion and Workplus showcased their solutions to an audience of industry leaders, investors and experts.

Mark Flynn, co-founder at Rubik Technologies, explained: “We are absolutely delighted to win the £75,000 proof of concept grant from Techstart. This will help accelerate the development of Data Mule to offer medium-sized manufacturers actionable, impactful business insights to drive their business performance and growth. Throughout the development we’ve had a real focus on ensuring we have a solution-centric approach, rather than mere technological deployment. Without this programme from Digital Catapult, we wouldn’t have access to industry-leading companies from across Northern Ireland, which was invaluable in helping to shape our product.”

The successful showcase and Rubik Technologies triumph is testament to the long-term strategic value of the Smart Nano NI initiative, which has been awarded £42.4m UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund to drive self-sustaining local industry and economic growth through research and innovation.

During the programme, the cohort received support from Digital Catapult’s team of expert technologists, spanning areas such as blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), 5G, photonics and immersive to develop and enhance solutions, ranging from sustainability reporting and agrifood cultivation to utilising immersive (virtual and augmented reality) technologies for product inspections and training.

Each participant also gained direct access to ten local industry leaders through the programme’s mentorship scheme, facilitating knowledge sharing and an environment to test prototypes in a commercially neutral environment. The cohort also received investment readiness support, with workshops geared towards successful strategy, pitching and business development.

Brendan Lowry, Senior Innovation Partner at Digital Catapult, said: “Technology holds the key to solving some of the manufacturing industry’s most pressing challenges, and the success of the latest cohort is testament to the innovation and expertise that sits within Northern Ireland. Critical to this success is the ongoing collaboration between participants and mentors on the programme, with the latter dedicating their time to develop new solutions that will yield significant gains for Northern Ireland’s manufacturers and drive sustainable long-term growth.”

Kathleen Garrett at Techstart Ventures, said: We were really impressed with the range of propositions, and how the solutions had evolved as a result of the programme. It was fantastic to see that so many of the companies had been able to engage with potential customers and receive some valuable validation. The competition was very strong across all eight companies, and we are delighted to be able to support Rubik Technologies to take their solution to the next level. Data Mule has the potential to not just fill a market void, but transform the SME manufacturing landscape.”

Jason Wiggins at Smart Nano NI added: “Smart Nano NI consortium has developed a truly collaborative culture. This has created effective partnerships leading to cooperation and information sharing which has underpinned the solutions that are being developed. This foundation is of particular importance in addressing challenges in the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland. Evidence of success can be seen in over 30 companies who have now graduated through the Digital Catapult Smart Nano NI programmes and together we look forward to building on these successful collaborations.”