A client invested in care-tech Alcove issuing sensors and wearables for vulnerable adults

Date: 04 May 2016

Bumblebee Design

Nick Travis, partner in investment management at Smith & Williamson, says that the UK needs to concentrate more on scaling up its tech start ups.


What do you think of robo-advisers?

They serve a purpose in opening up the investment world to the mass market by simplifying the process of portfolio investing. However, I think that robo-advice lacks in a few areas. For example, many of our clients have large property portfolios or invest in a certain sector because they are business owners or have shares in their company. Unlike robots, a human adviser is able to plot this to avoid investment crossover and make more relevant investment strategies which minimize risk.     

What are the big tech investment projects at the moment?

Software as a service model has long been popular, as has fintech, with companies like Crowdcube and Funding Circle who run the crowd funding model and are changing the availability of finance and set to keep doing so. Other new technologies gathering pace are augmented reality, the internet of things, edtech which is technology to support learning and elderly robo-care.

What was the most successful tech investment deal you’ve advised on recently?

One of our clients invested in an internet of things care tech platform called Alcove which puts sensors and wearables on vulnerable adults.  Essentially Alcove allows older people to stay in their own home for longer utilising the internet of things approach and a centralised tech platform. It aims to replace the red pull cord that you traditionally see in elderly peoples’ homes, care homes and hospitals.  When we met them they were still developing the concept and we were happy to connect them with potential investors.  They are now fully functioning in several housing associations and their model is helping save lives.

What is the difference between the US and UK?

There seems to be a big difference between the UK and US in the funding of new ventures, not just tech. Venture capitalists in the US generally think a lot bigger and invest a lot more money.  The UK is excellent at creating and developing start-ups but we need to concentrate more on scaling up. 


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