1 Jan 2018 Our ‘Winners in 2018 List’ is published
5 Feb 2018 New client: University of Chester
3 March 2018 Gibson Index sponsors study: ‘Value of Manufacturing SMEs’ with Cambridge University

The Gibson Index contains profiles on some 70,000 early stage start-ups, University spinouts, SME veterans, technology-led consultancies and business partnerships. It forms the world’s first comprehensive national small company database of any major nation.

The index is the result of an intensive research project by the writer and author Marcus Gibson, a prolific contributor to The Financial Times newspaper, and his team of researchers and correspondents from around the UK – in a project started more than 10 years ago.

It seeks to highlight the UK’s unique treasure store of small technology companies - which is one of the most important but least understood ‘Crown Jewels’ of the British economy.

Subscribers to the database include UK Government organizations, blue chip British companies, academic institutions, finance houses and economic development organizations keen to keep in touch with the fast moving world of technology and small SME in the UK.



January 2018 – 10 SMEs to consider in 2018:


With another 5,000 new companies added to the Index in 2017, we argued long and hard over the final 10 companies to be chosen for our ‘Winners in 2018 List’. Some but not all have made an appearance in our regular newsletter over the past 12 months. Our particular criteria, part based on sales performance and management qualities, plus our ability to meet so many CEOs over the past 12 months may just give us an edge over other tipsters. Of the 4,300 top rated companies the database only five have gone bust in the past 14 years since we started. Here is our pick of the 2017 crop.

10) VividQ Ltd

If it succeeds in becoming the new software standard for realistic displays, VividQ will help to upgrade significantly the VR/AR experience, enabling mixed reality applications, and possibly driving the next revolution in the £130bn display industry. With its technology development team based in Cambridge, VividQ has its management based in the Innovation Warehouse in London.

9) Carbon Air Ltd

In 2017 this Salford University materials spinout is researching innovative acoustic materials that can be used for, among other things, loudspeakers. It uses a porous material named active carbon, or activated charcoal, to create mini speakers and very thin sound insulation. The team are experts in acoustic materials, noise control, audio and air suspension including noise absorbers and barriers, acoustic panels and sound deadening materials for vehicles and buildings, and these could in future be manufactured in the UK and licensed worldwide.

8) Hurricane Energy PLC

This is certainly not the best-run company in Britain but its bravery in forging ahead with exploration of virgin oil & gas prospects to the west of the Shetland Isles of Scotland merits its inclusion. While it has raised a huge sum $530m it is banking on the potential of the Lancaster field, where reserves are thought to amount to 523m barrels - currently the largest undeveloped oil resource in the UK. It has a successful track record of finding new fields – although past performance is no measure of the future, of course. While the UK’s Dept of Business continues to highlight renewable energy and decarbonisation the Hurricane Energy story is just one example of how the traditional oil & gas industry is vastly greater, more dependable - and 20x the number of pensionable jobs.

7) Voxpopme Ltd

Based in the West Midlands Voxpopme has already worked with Microsoft, Tesco, Verizon and Clorox. Its platform delivers end-to-end video research via software energises the process of capturing, analysing and sharing content, making working with video fast and easy. As a result it removes the ‘pain points’ typically associated with video insight - making video fast, easy and instant for market researchers and customer experience professionals.

Voxpopme currently employs 30 people, and its turnover has more than doubled year-on-year, since 2015. It is also backed by the UK’s No.1 canny investment house, Mercia Ventures, located in Birmingham.

6) Traydstream Ltd

Based in London, Traydstream is one of the few fintech companies that could have a long-term, stable role to play in the City of London. Very usefully, its IT digitalises trade documents and automates regulatory compliance screening using optical character recognition techniques.

Traydstream’s solution consists of three key modules: an OCR engine, which uses AI to read, scan and instantly structure and store paper-based information digitally; a rule-checking function; and a compliance engine that utilises machine learning algorithms to verify and scrutinise for compliance with international trading rules and regulations.

5) Planet Computers Ltd

Could this become the next Psion PDA company, the next iPad that is anything but a closed system, and makes phone calls, and takes email? In 2018 Planet Computers will exhibit at International CES in Las Vegas in early January, where it will launch Gemini, a dual Android/Linux electronic PDA. Linked to the Web by 4G and Wi-Fi, Gemini resembles popular PDA products from the 1990s, especially the Psion 5 machine. It is a ‘clamshell’ mobile device with a physical keyboard and a large (5.99 inch) multi-touch colour display. Gemini enables users to type emails, blogs and social media posts easily on the go. Congratulations go mainly to industrial designer Martin Riddiford and his team at Therefore Design for their work. Is Martin the new Sir Jonathan Ive?

4) Nemaura Pharma Ltd

While the scale-up potential of most UK University spinouts has rapidly diminished in recent years – one or two stand out. And one is Nemaura, which has developed a pain-relief system for sufferers of acute arthritis. Based on Loughborough University’s science and enterprise park, the company has put together two new gels which, in laboratory, trials achieve ‘up to three-times faster drug penetration rate and faster onset of action’. If its skin patch delivery system, Memspatch, can do the trick it could grab a sizeable market – from sufferers who may require its patches for several decades – a profitable niche for Nemaura.

3) Pragma UK Ltd

This is a solid engineering company – run by solid engineering veterans. By focusing on a particular niche it knows inside-out, selling Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson’s equipment, the firm is likely to continue its solid growth, ‘Steady Eddie’ model. It grew 271% during the past four years to 2016. Pragma was founded in 2012 as a channel-only provider to support resellers and Ericsson-LG in bringing iPECS unified communications to the UK market.

2) Vision Modular Systems UK Ltd

While there are a handful of building firms leading the charge of ‘offsite construction’, which could save the industry billions in future – little Tide Construction Ltd delivers projects using its accredited system - Vision Modular Systems UK Ltd. Construction takes 60% less time than traditional build methods. Croydon planners agreed a twin-tower scheme of build-to-rent flats that will become the world’s tallest offsite scheme – if all goes ahead. The husband and wife team of Chris and Christy Hayes have been backed by cerebral investor Greystar, in what may be a trailblazer for modular construction methods. Presently, the tallest prefabricated building in the world is a 32-storey block in New York.

1) Osler Diagnostics Ltd

In 2017 Prof Jason Davis, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University’s Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, was the founder of this spinout with exceptional promise.

The company is commercialising Davis’ research with the aim of producing a simple, cheap yet effective handheld disease diagnostics device that is as easy to use as its famous cousin, the blood glucose monitoring test. In much the same way that diabetics test their glucose levels using a pinprick of blood in the morning, people would be able to find out whether there is trouble on the horizon over breakfast, and take steps to treat the condition before it gets out of hand. They expect the device to soon cover many other ailments through the rapid identification of proteins which act as markers of diseases. Davis believes they can catch a number of conditions - including oncological, cardiovascular and neurological diseases - years before they happen. If he’s right Oxford Innovation has got a winner on its hands.

back to top