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Universities team up to create new programme which helps to power high-growth UK companies

Pictured (L-R): Emma Thorn - SETsquared Bristol, Heather Macdonald Tait - Ultrahaptics, Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah - University of Bristol, Peter Blenkinsopp - Ultrahaptics

Press release issued: 18 May 2018

The University of Bristol in collaboration with the universities of Bath, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey have launched Scale-up; a new programme to enable the UK’s best tech SMEs to access university expertise and resources.

Part of the SETsquared Partnership, an enterprise collaboration between the five universities, the new programme aims to improve Britain’s investment record in research and development and benefit SME’s, accelerating innovation and growth and in turn providing a boost to the UK economy. 

It is hoped that the programme will enable scale-up companies to become the sector giants of tomorrow and is expected to generate over £25bn by 2030, creating an additional 30,000 high-skilled jobs in the tech sector.

SETsquared’s new scale-up programme has been supported by £5m of government funding through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, which will enable 240 of the most innovative scale-up companies to access support.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol said: “Since SETsquared started, we have helped over 3,500 businesses who have gone on to create over 20,000 jobs and raise £1.5bn in investment. Today we are launching our new scale-up programme which will help hundreds of SMEs over the coming years access the knowledge and resources of our five Universities to accelerate their innovation and growth. This will benefit the UK economy in a major way.”

The Rt. Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy added: “The SETsquared Partnership has not only helped nurture and grow British technology businesses, but it has also contributed £8.6 billion to the UK economy, which is an incredible achievement.

“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.”

The scale-up programme tackles the issue of how to ensure more UK tech start-ups develop to become major forces in their field. Warwick Economics estimate technology scale-ups are likely to produce 42% more GVA than traditional scale-ups and generate 16% more jobs.

Ministers have committed to increasing productivity in the UK and increasing spending on Research & Development from 1.7 percent of GDP to 2.4 percent to tackle these economic challenges. The UK currently ranks 22nd in a list of OECD developed countries.

Commenting on the impact that SETsquared’s member companies have on R&D, Professor Canagarajah added: “With the UK’s ‘R&D gap’, we want to show parliamentarians how SETsquared can drive innovation in the UK. Utilising our proven track record of supporting early stage tech companies to raise investment and building R&D partnerships with the Universities we can support these SMEs to become successful enterprises as they grow into global leaders in their industrial sectors.”

SETsquared has already undertaken a successful pilot programme with a Bristol-based company. William Hartley, Managing Director at hofer powertrain UK Ltd, said: "The SETsquared Scale-up Programme enabled hofer powertrain to work with the University of Bristol for the first time, this added a new research dimension to a £40 million automotive project that will be at the heart of hofer’s UK growth plans.”

Over 20 member companies from SETsquared were on hand at the launch to engage with parliamentarians and tell them about the challenges of starting or scaling a tech business in the UK.

Further information

About SETsquared

SETsquared is a long-standing partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey which specialises in growing high-tech start-ups through its incubation programme and other business acceleration services. SETsquared provides mentoring, access to investors and corporate innovators and a wide range of industry experts through its network and training programmes.

Its business incubation programme is ranked by the University Business Incubator Index as the best in the world and has helped over 3,500 high-tech start-ups to develop and raise more than a £1.5bn of investment.

Independent research carried out by Warwick Economics estimates the economic impact of SETsquared member companies to be £8.6bn to date, with the creation of 20,000 jobs.

The predicted £25bn GVA and 30,000 jobs created have been estimated based on the number of scale-up and start-up companies that SETsquared is expected to support over the next three years using its existing programmes. This figure is likely to grow as SETsquared supports an increasing amount of companies over time.

SETsquared is the Global No. 1 business incubator and findings from Warwick Economics show that SETsquared is already creating a cumulative GVA of £8.6bn for the UK from its support for tech startups.



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