Bristol Uni innovation incubator among group named as joint best in Europe

July 18, 2013

SETsquared, the innovative business incubator partnership that includes the University of Bristol, has been named as the joint best in Europe at helping fledgling tech firms meet their potential.

The accolade comes from the University Business Incubator (UBI) Index which also made it joint fourth best in the world, behind US institutions. It shares the best-in-Europe title with NDRC LaunchPad in the Republic of Ireland.

The index assessed 150 incubators in 22 countries across three assessment categories, 10 benchmark indexes and more than 50 performance indicators.

The only other British institution in the top 20 was the incubator run by the University of Oxford, at 19.

SETsquared, which includes the universities of Bath, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey as well as Bristol, has helped businesses secure £34m in investment this year alone and one of its businesses, Ubiquisys, was sold to US giant Cisco for $310m (£204m).

Other successful firms from the SETsquared incubator include the first-ever online crowd sourcing website Crowdcube and PrimerDesign, which produced the world’s first swine flu detection kit.

In the decade since its launch it has given birth to some 1,000 hi-tech start-ups.

The Bristol SETsquared centre has successfully supported more than 150 companies which have raised £75m-plus in equity, grant and debt funding.

The centre will soon spearhead a new business and innovation hub at The Engine Shed – an iconic Grade I listed building built by Brunel which previously housed the Empire and Commonwealth Museum at the entrance to Bristol Temple Meads station.

A £1.5m investment will make it a focal point for Bristol’s drive to generate inward investment and encourage a new generation of high growth businesses when it opens later this year.

Bristol SETsquared Centre director Nick Sturge said: “A successful incubator has to be entrepreneurial in how it operates and delivers support to exciting start-up businesses. This award proves that UK universities are as entrepreneurial as anywhere in the world.

“The SETsquared Centre here in Bristol has already won two national awards, so this latest accolade is further testament to all the excellent work being done across the whole partnership.”

SETsquared partnership director Graham Harrison added: “These successes, combined with the UBI Index ranking, are proof that our model works. We have been supporting the UK’s economic growth by championing these innovative start-ups for the last 10 years and, without question, we see the UK’s economy over the next decade being underpinned by the kind of hi-tech, start-up businesses we are nurturing.

“This is further proof that the UK is hot on the heels of the US in the way it is nurturing entrepreneurialism and lean start-ups. We do see the UK’s economic growth coming from the kind of companies within our incubator and this latest survey is evidence that we are going about developing them in the right way.”

SETsquared aims to raise the agenda for wider support for UK tech start-ups at an event in London this year. Its Accelerating Growth event, which marks its 10th anniversary, will provide an opportunity for key figures in UK business incubation to discuss what support UK technology start-ups need to achieve growth. Among those who will speak at the event will be Technology Strategy Board chief executive Iain Gray.

The event, on November 27, will feature live investor pitches and bring together some of SETsquared’s most successful companies over the past 10 years as well as some of its most exciting tech start-ups.


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