Innovative businesses awarded major funding

  • Date

    Thu 23 Jan 20

University of Essex staff and graduates have been awarded large grants for their ground-breaking business ideas.

Three businesses were awarded grants, from £30,000 to over £50,000 from the Knowledge Gateway Seedcorn Fund, established by the University of Essex.

Each business had five minutes to make their pitch, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session in front of a panel of judges.

Liberrex – An online tool to improve customer experience

Achraf Ammar, a graduate in Computer Systems Engineering has been awarded £30,000 for his start-up, Liberrex.

Liberrex is a Software as a Service (SaaS) that helps service providers manage their customers through automated systems.

The software enables companies to increase productivity by freeing up time usually spend on bookings and administration, optimize calendars to accommodate more customers and collect data about customer visits and feedback.

Liberrex also provides a mobile app and web platform to allow customers to check the nearest service providers with the shortest waiting time, join queues, book appointments online and track the progress of the queue.

WYSPR – Real data through social media

Essex Business School graduates Eliot Wood and Ollie Bourne have been granted £30,000 for WYSPR, a social media marketing tool aimed at disrupting the influencer marketplace.

Instead of using influencers to promote products and services, WYSPR uses regular social media users to recommend brands to their friends online.

These ‘Friendvertisers’ can post polls and quizzes on their Instagram stories in order to gauge their friend's true opinions on products. As a result, WYSPR can get the best consumer survey data possible.

Metrarc – Improving online security

Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering has been awarded £51,000 for Metrarc.

Metrarc is a spin-out company from the University of Essex and the University of Kent in the field of Cybersecurity.

The company is developing ICMetrics, a new technology for developing secure and unique encryption keys for Internet of Things (IOT) devices.

ICMetrics enables secure communication from mobile and networked devices and ensures no encryption keys or data is stored, which presents a significant barrier to an attacker.

MoD, BT and Innovate UK have helped build the technology which is protected with four patents. The company is now working on technical development of ICMetrics with focus on a commercial outreach.

Andy Mew, Head of Startup Support, EIRA Director Dr Kirstie Cochrane, Honorary Graduate and Business Angel Phil O’Donovan and business entrepreneur Peter Wood formed the judging panel.

Andy Mew said: “The standard of pitches today was absolutely phenomenal and the panel were impressed with the range of businesses on show today. The presenters were asked some tough questions and demonstrated that they know their business, and their market sectors, inside out.

The University of Essex is committed to supporting our students, graduates, and members of the Knowledge Gateway, through access to business support, new networks, and funding opportunities, and I look forward to seeing how these companies develop over the coming years.”

In total, £123,000 was awarded to the continued development of seven businesses, including four micro-grants for businesses from current students, graduates and staff.