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SETsquared partnership ranked as the world’s top business incubator

Press release issued: 23 February 2018

A national university business incubator, with offices in Bristol’s Engine Shed, has been named as the best in the world for its outstanding contribution to developing the next generation of UK tech entrepreneurs.

SETsquared, which is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, was awarded the top accolade by UBI Global at the World Incubation Summit in Toronto, Canada. It nurtures technology-based businesses throughout their lifecycle from idea through to investment and scale-up.

The Bristol SETsquared Centre, based in Engine Shed, is home to around 85 innovative ventures and has created over 1,300 jobs since it opened in 2012. In 2017, its members raised over £119 million of investment and generated more than £75 million in revenue between them.

With bespoke entrepreneur training programmes and unrivalled access to a network of mentors, alumni, investors, corporate partners and the knowledge base of the five universities, SETsquared has helped over 2,500 UK high-tech start-ups raise more than £1.5 billion of investment and contributed over £3.8 billion to the UK economy.

Last year over 880 entrepreneurs participated in SETsquared programmes and it incubated 381 companies which raised a record £218 million investment – the highest ever annual investment raise from the SETsquared portfolio.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: "The SETsquared partnership has not only helped nurture and grow British technology businesses, but it has also contributed nearly £4 billion to the UK economy which is an incredible achievement. Being recognised as one of the world's leading business incubators is fantastic news and testament to the hard work and dedication of the team at SETsquared and the universities they work with.

"Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we're calling on businesses to invest in the latest technology trends, and through our Sector Deals and Grand Challenges, we want the UK to be at the forefront of the technology revolution and make Britain fit for the future."

Emma Thorn, centre director at the Bristol SETsquared Centre, said: "Here at SETsquared Bristol we are thrilled to be ranked as the top university incubator in the world by UBI once again, retaining our number one ranking awarded in 2015.

"We have supported some exceptional spinouts from the University of Bristol including Ultrahaptics, Xmos and Zeetta. We put people at the heart of how we develop and evolve our incubation activities, ensuring we are always responding to what our ventures need."

One of the companies to have benefitted from the SETsquared partnership is Bristol-based Ultrahaptics, which has developed a tech that uses ultrasound to project invisible buttons and dials that people can feel. 

It was founded by University of Bristol alumnus Tom Carter during his PhD studies. He said: "SETsquared is a fantastic environment to start and grow a company rapidly. The services SETsquared helped us with, such as coaching, mentoring and raising investment, have enabled us to go from the three people we were when we started to the 80 people we are now."

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