The Somerset start-ups that have nailed 2021

High performing local businesses on the Somerset Catalyst Programme have seen spectacular growth since they began their journey on the bespoke business support programme a year ago. During a turbulent year both nationally and globally, they have launched new ventures, landed six figure contracts, raised thousands of pounds of finance from angel investors and communities, and created valuable job opportunities for people in the region.  

The 2020/21 cohort1 included a diverse range of businesses, from pre-start-ups to a 90- year-old 3rd generation family business. They were from a variety of sectors that included food and drink, beauty, biotech laboratory automation, augmented reality, circular economy, and social enterprises.  

Peter Birkett, Somerset Catalyst Programme Lead and Mentor, said: “What a year it has been. When we first thought about launching this programme in Somerset we had no idea what 2020 would bring us, but it has been a real privilege to work with a cohort of passionate and resilient entrepreneurs who have not only survived the last year but emerged stronger than ever.”  

IN Reality  

IN Reality is a virtual reality business that specialises in rail operator training. Since joining the Somerset Catalyst programme they have secured a six-figure contract with a major international rail operator, and on top of that have landed a £400,000 grant from Innovate UK for a football AI project.  

Working with Bournemouth University, IN Reality is developing a VR simulation that has never been seen before. Using a combination of deep learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, dedicated Motion Capture (MoCap) datasets and positional tracking data of real events, it will enable major clubs to replay an entire match while immersed on the pitch. Every tiny detail such as speed, gait and techniques of players will be captured so they can analyse games and gain a competitive edge. In the future these powerful VR simulations could then be applied to numerous training applications including other professional sports, crowd simulation, military and security. 

Chris Jones, founder and CEO of IN Reality, said, “We are really excited by the progress we have made and the contracts we have secured since joining the Catalyst programme last year. As a huge football fan our new grant is particularly exciting, and I can’t wait to develop the tech and see where the next year takes us.”  


Since joining the Somerset Catalyst programme, Yumello, the Atlas Mountains-inspired nut butter brand, has gone from a team of two to six full-time staff with three job openings currently available. The team has seen a 350% YOY revenue growth and secured two investments, each worth over £100,000. They are on track to raise a further £500,000 by the end of the year.  

Esther Lopez, Co-Founder of Yumello, said, “Since we joined the programme, we have grown very fast and are not the same company we were even 6 months ago. Despite the global challenges of the last year, we have been able to not only survive, but thrive. It has been an incredible journey so far, and only the beginning for us.” 

InShare SMART Risk 

InShare SMART Risk creates cost effective and efficient insurance schemes for groups of companies and individuals, as well as large group companies. Within its digital ecosystem commercial entities can join together as communities to share, manage, reduce and transfer risk. After securing €1 million investment and launching two live communities in 2021, they have plans to grow their team from five to eighteen in the next year.  

Co-Founder Gareth Eggle said, “I think it goes without saying that the last year has seen so many challenges for all industries, but by working closely with our Client-Communities, we have been able to launch our first Risk Sharing Communities, secure transformative investment, and start to grow our business and our team. This is thanks in no small part to the excellent advice and support from the Catalyst team. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who’s interested in starting an innovative business to consider the Somerset Catalyst programme to point them firmly in the right direction.”  

Funded by the Somerset councils, Somerset Catalyst is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county. Its goal is to create the necessary positive culture, support system and infrastructure to create economic growth that will ripple across all its communities and put Somerset on the innovation map of the UK.  

The six-month programme saw each entrepreneur receive 1-2-1 coaching, take part in weekly peer group workshops, and present their developed business plans to carefully selected experts with in-depth knowledge and skills relevant to their industry.  

Sign up to find out more about the Somerset Catalyst programme and how to apply for the 2021/22 cohort.

The Somerset start-ups that have nailed 2021