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Data innovator Rubik Technologies awarded £75,000 grant by Techstart Ventures and Digital Catapult in Smart Nano NI challenge

Posted 16 May 2024



(L-R) Jason Wiggins, Smart Nano NI; Kathleen Garrett, Techstart Ventures; Brendan Lowry, Digital Catapult; Mark Flynn, Rubik Technologies; Camilla Long, Bespoke Communications

Today, Techstart Ventures, an early-stage technology investor, and Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, have announced that Rubik Technologies has been awarded £75,000 in grant funding to further develop its pioneering solution to manufacturing challenges. The award followed a competition that involved eight leading technology companies competing in a pitch to an expert audience in Belfast as part of the Smart Nano NI Manufacturing Innovation Challenge.

Competition winner, Rubik Technologies, helps businesses to leverage the power of digital technology for data-driven business growth. Its winning solution, Data Mule, simplifies access to actionable business intelligence for mid-sized manufacturers to drive better performance. With the £75,000 grant Rubik Technologies plans to use the funds to invest in its solution to build out a minimum viable product (MVP) with a handful of carefully selected manufacturing partners.

Led by Digital Catapult, as part of the Smart Nano NI consortium, the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge programme saw eight small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across Northern Ireland develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges in the manufacturing sector before competing for £75,000 grant funding. The programme culminated yesterday with a showcase event at The MAC Belfast, where participants Aeroblue Software, Badger IoT, Eleveg, Nigma, NUA-VR, Rubik Technologies, WipFusion and Workplus showcased their solutions to an audience of industry leaders, investors and experts.

Mark Flynn, co-founder at Rubik Technologies, explained: “We are absolutely delighted to win the £75,000 proof of concept grant from Techstart. This will help accelerate the development of Data Mule to offer medium-sized manufacturers actionable, impactful business insights to drive their business performance and growth. Throughout the development we’ve had a real focus on ensuring we have a solution-centric approach, rather than mere technological deployment. Without this programme from Digital Catapult, we wouldn’t have access to industry-leading companies from across Northern Ireland, which was invaluable in helping to shape our product.”

The successful showcase and Rubik Technologies triumph is testament to the long-term strategic value of the Smart Nano NI initiative, which has been awarded £42.4m UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund to drive self-sustaining local industry and economic growth through research and innovation.

During the programme, the cohort received support from Digital Catapult’s team of expert technologists, spanning areas such as blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), 5G, photonics and immersive to develop and enhance solutions, ranging from sustainability reporting and agrifood cultivation to utilising immersive (virtual and augmented reality) technologies for product inspections and training. 

Each participant also gained direct access to ten local industry leaders through the programme’s mentorship scheme, facilitating knowledge sharing and an environment to test prototypes in a commercially neutral environment. The cohort also received investment readiness support, with workshops geared towards successful strategy, pitching and business development. 


Manufacturing Innovation Challenge cohort