BEST OF THE WEST: FRESH RANGE, BBT, REACH ROBOTICS

Welcome to the latest instalment of our Best of the West feature. Since its launch back in January, we’ve celebrated the successes of over 20 South West-based businesses, and we’re not slowing down just yet.

This month’s featured companies all have technology at their heart, but in very different ways…

FRESH RANGE

Fresh Range sources fresh, local and sustainably produced food and delivers it to customers across Bristol and Bath.

The company was launched in 2014 by Lee Butler and brothers Rich and Steve Osborn. It’s a tech platform as much as a grocery service. Fresh Range’s bespoke ‘dynamic ordering’ software means the carrots you’ve just ordered may still be growing when you click on the Buy button, allowing you to get them truly fresh from the ground.

If Best of the West had existed last year, we may well have featured Rich after he was named a BBC Local Food Hero for 2016.

Thankfully, even more good news has emerged with the announcement that the company recently smashed its £300,000 crowdfunding target.

So let’s raise a freshly produced organic Somerset cider to Fresh Range, and wish them the very best of luck in scaling up the business beyond its South West roots.

BBT

Bristol Braille Technology (BBT) is a not-for-profit company doing wonderful work in the field of braille.

They’ve spent the last six years developing a revolutionary product called the Canute. Not only is it the world’s first multi-line braille e-reader, but it has been constructed in a way that makes it more affordable than most braille readers on the market.

On announcing the launch of the Canute last month, BBT’s managing director Ed Rodgers said, “Canute offers potential Braille users a better chance of education and employment in their life by learning and using Braille in a radically affordable way.

“We are starting a quiet evolution in Braille literacy here in Bristol and we look forward [to making sure] it spreads around the country and abroad.”

Here’s hoping the Canute contributes to many changed lives in Bristol and far beyond.

REACH ROBOTICS

Keeping the tech theme well and truly alive are Reach Robotics, a Bristol-based firm that merges the fields of robotics, gaming and augmented reality into one immersive experience.

Their MekaMon product is a robot which, when controlled through Bluetooth and the camera on a smartphone, enters an augmented reality universe of mazes, battles and adventures.

Its UWE graduate founders have worked tirelessly over the last few years to develop the first MekaMon products. Now they have secured an additional £5.8m in funding that will allow the first 500 to be taken to market and the team to grow.

This TechCrunch video shows how the wonderfully agile robots spring to life in the physical and digital worlds.

If this is a glimpse into the future of gaming, we’re in. Bring on the MekaMon!