Sean Fielding, Director of Reseach and Knowledge Transfer

UK universities partnership the best in Europe at fostering start-ups

SETsquared, a partnership of UK universities including Exeter, is joint first in Europe at successfully incubating businesses, an independent survey has revealed.

The University Business Incubator (UBI) Index has listed the SETsquared incubator as the best in Europe, alongside jointly-placed NDRC LaunchPad in the Republic of Ireland. The ranking puts SETsquared fourth in the world, and joint first outside of the US.

SETsquared, a partnership of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, has given birth to some 1,000 high-tech startups since its inception 10 years ago. In 2013 alone it has helped companies within its incubator raise £34m in investment and this year saw the sale of one of the  businesses it had previously supported, Ubiquisys, to US giant Cisco for $310m. Other successful firms from the SETsquared incubator include the world’s first equity-based crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, and PrimerDesign, which produced the world’s first swine-flu detection kit.

Sean Fielding, Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Exeter said “We knew the Innovation Centre in Exeter was helping to drive an innovation culture throughout the City but it’s great to have this endorsement that we are amongst the best in the world. The Centre is also helping the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. We have already had some great successes including Mod My Pi, a SETsquared Graduate Business of the Year, who have achieved an astonishing £1M turnover in its first year and student entrepreneurs have just won the Microsoft global app challenge in St Petersburg and are now in Atlanta presenting to Microsoft engineers. These knowledge based businesses are the key to the UK’s future growth and competitiveness in the world markets and universities have a huge role to play in providing the right tools to enable them to get off to a flying start.”

Over the past five years the Exeter Innovation Centre and associated Co-Venturing programmes in the region have created 38 new businesses, supported 332 businesses and created 542 jobs using this methodology. We have helped raise over £11m for these businesses and have run over 700 events attended by over 16,000 delegates.

Partnership Director, Graham Harrison, said: “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 high-tech, start-up businesses being nurtured in our centres.”

Date: 19 July 2013

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