According to Forbes magazine, 90% of startups fail in the first year, yet the Bristol & Bath tech cluster has been proven to be the most productive in the whole of the UK. So what is the South West doing to nurture startup businesses and turn the statistic on its head?
Helping startups grow and succeed is the aim of the University of Bath Innovation Centre (UBIC). It’s for high-growth potential businesses and entrepreneurs, and is Bath’s home to SETsquared – the university business incubator named as the best in the world.
With statistics showing that in the last 3 years companies associated with UBIC have created 751 jobs and raised over £40 million in investment, we caught up with Entrepreneur-in-Residence Rosie Bennett to find out how they are hacking the system and fueling growth in the tech sphere.
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She starts by explaining what the University of Bath Innovation Centre is: “We are a membership organisation and workspace for tech startups and high-growth businesses in Bath. We are at the south end of town near the station – part of the area that is fast becoming the Innovation Quay!
“The centre has become an important hub for entrepreneurship offering workshops, courses, startup incubation, internships and student enterprise activities”
“The centre has become an important hub for entrepreneurship, offering workshops, courses, startup incubation, internships and student enterprise activities. We have around 60 companies as members at any one time; around half of which have direct links through the founding team with the University. Our network of alumni companies expands as ventures evolve into successful businesses and outgrow the centre.”
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Set for success
Being part of SETsquared means that members have wide access to industry specialists, investors and corporates as well as a fantastic local network of mentors.
“Last year we were named the Global Number 1 University Business Incubator”
Rosie says, “As part of the SETsquared Partnership we can support member companies with world-class incubation business support. I can say this with confidence as last year we were named the Global Number 1 University Business Incubator! This was a great endorsement for the programmes, events and investment network that SETsquared has developed as a collaboration between five research-intensive universities.”
Keeping good company
The link with a leading research university combined with a thriving local tech scene means that UBIC boasts an impressively diverse group of businesses. All are tech companies in a broad sense but range from revolutionary chip design company Smart Antennae to consumer rewards app platform Memberoo, to smart meter innovators Green Running. Headline-grabbing members also include local hybrid cloud platform heroes Zynstra and small cell maker Ubiquisys which was acquired by Cisco in 2013.
“Know your market, build a great team, find good mentors… Join the Innovation Centre!”
Rosie adds, “We are currently supporting some hugely exciting new ventures; food pre-ordering platform Ordoo and early years childcare and education reporting software Kinderley have both recently secured investment to grow their teams and scale beyond the Bristol & Bath area. 2016 SPARKies winners adaptive learning specialists EZ Education are consistently the number 1 maths download in the app store and currently working on expanding to other territories.”
Rosie has some advice for those looking to achieve similar success, “Know your market, build a great team, find good mentors… Join the Innovation Centre!”
Bath-based events and extras
Being a centre of activity, the central location helps bring together the activities and the community. Rosie explains, “This thriving tech community is closely networked and highly mutually supportive which creates fertile ground for new tech startups and entrepreneurs.
“Bath is notable for its community-driven tech networks; if you had the time you could fill your calendar up”
“As well as the great quality of life, good rail links and the endorsement of being part of one of the country’s fastest growing tech clusters, Bath is notable for its community-driven tech networks; if you had the time you could fill your calendar up with meetups and events. Look out for TechSPARK’s BathSPARK Meetups and Techie Brekkies that happen in Bristol too, Bath:Hacked, BathCamp, ITGirls Collaborative, Flag & Bell IT Pub Crawl, and Bath Marketing Network.” [You can check out TechSPARK’s event calendar, where we pull in all of the South West’s techie events and meetups that we know of.]
Alongside UBIC’s student and member-only events they often open the doors to the public, “We run entrepreneurship courses which are usually sector specific and regularly host workshops and talks through SparkUP school which is run in association with TechSPARK. We also have a networking event on the first Tuesday of every month at midday which is open to anyone looking to find out more about us or member companies.”
With all of this on offer, Rosie concludes that, “We would especially like to hear about projects with big economic impact, innovations in sustainable tech and from social enterprises.”
Do you have a tech venture and would like to be considered for membership? You can apply using the online application form on the SETsquared website. If you are still in the formative stage of a venture or would just like to chat about an idea you can drop in on a Wednesday morning to their open session or email Rosie at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a slot. Keep up with news from the hub on Twitter @Bath_Innovation.