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Ambitious Suffolk And Norfolk Start-ups Selected As Finalists For Venturefest East Fast And Furious Pitch Off

April 21, 2016

Dr Amir Nejadmalayeri - Phoelex250

Phoelex_logo__Innovation-Martlesham (80)

Two ambitious start-up companies from Norfolk and Suffolk have been selected to be finalists for the Venturefest East pitching competition, by New Anglia LEP.

Large internet companies such as Google and Facebook could benefit from a new product being created by Phoelex Ltd.  The company, which is based at Innovation Martlesham on BT’s Adastral Park in Suffolk (and whom is part of  IM’s Business Incubator), will compete in the Fast and Furious Pitch off at Venturefest East on 24 May at Newmarket Racecourse.

Phoelex is creating an Optical Transceiver, which helps transmit information such as big data, analytics, video and collaborative online gaming between computers within a data centre at very high speeds.

The new product offers dramatic cost and power savings for Optical Transceivers.  Compared to current products, there is the potential for a 175% price-performance improvement.

The current cost and power consumption of Optical Transceivers are some of the main obstacles that mega data centre operators are facing.  Phoelex technology could reduce both capital expenditure and operating expenditure in data centres by up to 40%.

Dr Amir Nejadmalayeri, of Phoelex Ltd said: “It’s an honour for Phoelex Ltd to be shortlisted for the pitching competition. The great support of the Innovation Martlesham Incubator Program helped us to reach to this level. This opportunity enables us to take one step further to present our business idea to an all-star panel. We hope to achieve widespread visibility through the process and at the same time to learn through the expert opinion and feedback of the panel.

“Venturefest East is a unique opportunity to immensely expand our network and connections in the investment circles, through which we hope to be able to secure investment for this funding round.”

The other company selected to go forward to the pitching competition is The Pension Counter, based at the Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia, (UEA).  The firm has created an innovative solution which helps payroll bureaux, accountants and employers with new workplace pension legislation.

New legislation has meant that all employers are required to automatically enrol certain employees into a pension scheme. Once a scheme has been set up the onus is on payroll to administer these schemes on an ongoing basis. This can be complex, especially when a chosen pension provider does not integrate well with payroll software. The complexity is increased further for a payroll bureaux or accountants who have numerous different schemes to administer for multiple clients.

The Pension Counter has developed a solution to this challenge. Looking at a problem from a different perspective meant they were able to develop and profitably deliver an online service that leads to increased efficiency at a cost that is around a third of that found in the wider market. Working with payroll bureaux and accountants they can proactively recommend workplace pension schemes to employers that are more efficient for the payroll, require minimal input from employers and are good value for employees.

The Pension Counter also provides payroll bureaux and accountants with software enabling them to track their clients’ automatic enrolment status and progress to ensure all clients are fully complying with the legislation by their specified date.

Daniel Harvey CEO. The Pension Counter

Daniel Harvey (above), Chief Executive Officer of The Pension Counter said: “We have re-engineered an existing process to reflect fundamental marketplace changes as a result of new workplace pension legislation. Looking at a problem from a different perspective meant we were able to develop and profitably deliver an online service that leads to increased efficiency at a cost that is around a third of that found in the wider market.

“We are proud of what we have achieved in a short period of time. We have learned a lot about the challenges of creating a fintech startup, in such a dynamic market it is vital to always be looking at the next phase. The Venturefest East pitching competition will therefore be a great opportunity to introduce what we currently do and our next developments to the panel of entrepreneurs and investors.

“We want to take our business further and we are keen to meet other businesses that may become strategic partners”.

The news comes just days after tech leaders across the region gathered to launch TechEast, providing one voice for the tech sector to champion businesses, encourage investment and drive economic growth.

Phoelex and The Pension Counter will be joined by two further shortlisted companies all of which will receive free entry and an exhibition space.

These are:

Silicon Safe:  which has produced an un-hackable authentication device for the storage of user names and passwords, based at Innovation Martlesham, Suffolk

KTLG Media: which has developed a new type of asset management system for the agricultural sector and farmers in particular, which has integrated technology to manage visible and buried assets.

Phoelex and The Pension Counter will be entered into the Pitch off against other finalists selected by other East of England clusters, where they will face a panel of industry experts and investors headed by David Gill, Managing Director of St John’s Innovation Centre.  The overall winner on the day will receive 1,000 Guineas (just over £1,000), while the two runners up with each receive prizes of 500 Guineas.

Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia LEP said: “Our chosen companies have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and are creating fantastic products which could have a major, positive impact on companies locally, nationally and globally.  Venturefest East will help introduce them to powerful contacts who could offer collaboration, investment and business development opportunities to help grow their business.”

The University of East Anglia (UEA) and BT are lead sponsors of Venturefest East, along with with ENGIE, the French energy company.  Engie will be inviting three pitching companies, relevant to their business, to a big pitch to their board, in London on 10th June, which has access to a 100 million Euro investment fund.

Nicky Daniels, Head of Innovation Martlesham (IM) said “It’s fantastic news that Phoelex will be pitching at VentureFest East. Amir Nejadmalayeri, the founder of Phoelex, has recently been awarded a place in the IM business incubator, having targeted IM as a strong tech cluster with people and processes which would support his start-up company”.

Professor Dave Petley, UEA’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise said: “It is fantastic that The Pension Counter (established by recent UEA Economics graduates) has been given this valuable opportunity to pitch for funding to help to develop and grow their business.

“It is testament to the team’s hard work, energy and entrepreneurial, pioneering spirit that since graduating in 2015 they have established a company that is on course to make over £1 million revenue in its first year. They have accomplished this by disrupting and improving traditional referral methods within the financial sector.

“On behalf of UEA I would like to congratulate The Pension Counter on this brilliant achievement and I wish them success in the pitching competition.”

The brainchild of St John’s Innovation Centre, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Venturefest East (VFE) is part of the Innovate UK series of events and provides opportunities to listen to the region’s innovation gurus.

The event is set to attract 400 businesses, investors and entrepreneurs from across the East and beyond.

Delegates will be attending the Fast and Furious pitches, as well learning from world-class keynote speakers, attending inspirational workshops, visiting the innovation exhibition and networking with individuals and organisations.



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