Tuesday 14 March 2017 8:14 am

Innovation never stops: What's next for the tech startups in Bird & Bird's Digital Innovators showcase pushing boundaries?

When Bird & Bird and City A.M. sought to unearth, and then celebrate, the most innovative digital companies shaking up the worlds of finance, health, education, media and security, we knew the collective 20 companies we found were an outstanding demonstration of the UK’s leadership in cutting edge technology.

Now, just four months on, the visionary founders and teams have continued to push the boundaries, attracting top businesses that want in on the future they’re creating, getting award nods left right and centre, and creating even more innovative products, services and features.

We caught up with some of the Digital Innovators to see what they’ve been up to and where they’re going next with an exciting the year ahead.

From loans to savings

SalaryFinance, the inventive loans company which helps people pay off debt by doing it through payroll in the same way as paying tax or student loans, has just signed up the employees of FTSE 100 firm WorldPay to its platform.

And it’s not just managing loans they will help with either: SalaryFinance has a range of money management tools for users such as budgeting and credit reports, and will soon release SalarySaver, to take them “on a clear path from debt to savings”.

$126m of contracts

As cyber security increasingly hits the headlines, Darktrace knows there’s no better time to be in the business of preventing the bad guys from getting into online systems. No wonder, then, that it has landed contracts worth more than $126m (£104m), the latest of which is a top five consumer goods firm.

Its unique Enterprise Immune System uses artificial intelligence to spot threats in real-time and along with its other tools has been deployed over 2,000 times across 60 countries, detecting an astonishing 30,000 threats. Staff now number 370 in 23 locations around the world, doubling in size over the past year.

Beyond the City

ComplyAdvantage had just completed a major round of funding when it found itself parachuted into the Digital Innovators list – and this trajectory has continued.

Making it easier to comply with regulation and asses risk is music to the ears of anyone in the City. It plans to take that technology to the US in 2017 and grow its team even more – it already tripled in size last year, as did its customer base. Meanwhile, beyond purely payments, it’s finding a world of opportunity in insurance, gaming, legal and wealth management.

Eyeing more than one billion in India

Digital identity is one of the hottest areas in tech to be working in right now, as we consider the security and veracity of what we do online more than ever. Yoti is at the heart of that and its app has now gone live, signing up 40,000 people from 55 different nationalities for pre-registration and several businesses giving it a go. Not only that, it’s giving back with a hackathon involving the NSPCC, GoodGym and Centrepoint to help solve the challenge of digital identity.

Next up? A launch in India, where the official national Aadhaar programme has already brought a biometric ID system to almost every single person in the country – more than one billion people, according to government figures.

AR that knows your face

Now, creating augmented reality content is almost as easy as a grab and go shopping experience, after Blippar launched an entire suite of self-service tools to make it easier for anyone to develop AR content. It hasn't stopped there either, with product developments coming fast in the lightspeed fast area of tech. Now the Blippar app has facial recognition functions too.

Immersive storytelling

Virtual reality is also having its year in 2017 and Visualise has upcoming projects with brands from a host of industries, from cars and supermarkets to hotels and charities. After all, what are people going to watch on their new VR headsets?

A project with the Financial Times and Google resulted in a short documentary, Hidden Cities: Dublin in the Dark, The Story of the Emerald Noir, released in December. “Shot in 3D 360 and captured with binaural sound, the piece is a breakthrough in the quality and realism that can be experienced in VR films,” the company said. (Watch a behind the scenes video below).

More immersive storytelling is planned for the year as it expects consumer demand to grow. Visualise has ambitious plans to create a major piece of VR content “to flex our creative muscles”, which may come in the form of a film, documentary, game, or even something else entirely.

While its focus is working with brands, agencies and clients directly – essentially as a VR content agency – it’s also remaining ready to develop alongside its fledgling sector.

“There is no better industry for us to sharpen our VR knives on than the advertising industry – constantly pushing for new approaches and challenges. As we grow with the VR industry we will be looking to spin off our new content creation arm and other VR products using the skills amassed,” said co-founder and chief executive Henry Stuart.

We are developing the skills in our studio to create stunning VR experiences, these could apply to a huge number of industries so we have to be primed to move in any number of different directions as the opportunities arise.

And in the news…

Babylon Health partnered with the NHS in a new trial to see how its AI chatbot might be used instead of the 111 non-emergency number. Read more

Monzo landed a fresh new round of funding from top investor Thrive Capital, which has previously backed Instagram and Spotify, while also embarking on a new crowdfunding campaign to ensure fans could still be a part of the startup's success. Read more.

CurrencyCloud also got the stamp of approval from US venture capital investors, landing cash from GV, formerly known as Google Ventures and parent company Alphabet's VC arm. Read more.