Earlier this month world number 1 university business incubator SETsquared (pictured, right) announced that Monika Gierszewska has taken on the role of its new Centre Director for Bristol.
With a list of accolades and successful ventures almost too long to list, rising star Monika seems just the ticket to shake up and inspire those with big business ambitions in Bristol.
From creating a student incubator at the University of Westminster, to founding her own startups and even setting up several co-working spaces to name just a few, Monika’s achievements and huge passion for the tech & digital sector mean she’s sure to keep SETsquared coming out on top.
“I couldn’t imagine a better way of immersing myself in the Bristol’s tech cluster, than placing myself in the middle of the world’s number 1 university business incubator”
Excited to find out more about Monika and, of course, any grand plans she has hidden up her sleeves – we caught up with her amidst her first few weeks on the job.
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Monika: My background is in setting up and facilitating innovation ecosystems, including incubators, accelerators and corporate innovation centres.
I’ve worked with big and small companies, public and private; and thanks to that I have a good grasp of how various elements of such ecosystems or clusters work together.
TS: What did you do before being offered this role?
MG: I worked for an innovation consultancy in London, called ENTIQ, building a spinout venture for a leading European financial institution using blockchain technology [a sort of digital ‘ledger’, most widely associated with digital currency Bitcoin, that tracks the true series of events across the digital world].
“It’s been fascinating learning about the history and background of the Bristol’s tech scene and how it evolved over the years”
TS: What attracted you to the role of Centre Director at SETsquared?
MG: I have been fascinated about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster for a while, and quietly observed it from a distance, while working in London. When this role became available, I immediately applied.
I couldn’t imagine a better way of immersing myself in the Bristol’s tech cluster, than placing myself in the middle of the world’s number 1 university business incubator.
TS: How have your first weeks at SETsquared been?
MG: I’ve been spending most of my time getting to know the SETsquared and Engine Shed team, its 65 members businesses, extensive alumni network, the organisations who advise our businesses, as well as wider Bristol & Bath tech ecosystem.
It’s been fascinating learning about the history and background of the Bristol’s tech scene and how it evolved over the years.
“The Bristol and Bath tech startup scene is a perfect combination of high tech and creativity, which is very hard to find”
TS: What are you most excited about in your role?
MG: Meeting inspiring entrepreneurs and seeing innovative technologies every day!
MG: It is such a vibrant space! It truly inspires coincidences and random encounters – even for me after being there for only 3 weeks.
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TS: What interests you most about the Bristol and Bath tech start-up scene?
MG: It’s a perfect combination of high tech and creativity, which is very hard to find. I am intrigued that there are so many successful, serial entrepreneurs on their n-th businesses, yet they are very modest and humble.
“I’d like to focus on building stronger links with the industry, running open innovation programmes by collaborating with corporates and academia on co-innovation”
TS: What inspired you to get involved in running business incubators from early on in your career?
MG: Seeing businesses grow, raise funding, employ more people, move to bigger premises is hugely motivating – this is what got me inspired in the first place and keeps me going today.
TS: What are you hoping to bring to SETsquared in the future?
MG: One of the things I’d like to focus on is to build stronger links with the industry, running open innovation programmes by collaborating with corporates and academia on co-innovation.
TS: What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career working as a mentor, or an investor, for business incubators?
MG: Come and speak to me, I’m sure we can find a way of getting you involved!
Many thanks to Monika for taking time out of her busy first weeks to chat to us. You can stay in touch with Monika on her journey with SETsquared by following her on Twitter: @moni_gi. Or following SETsquared Bristol: @SETsquared_Br.