Murray Reed is bringing experience in Silicon Valley to his role as Innovation Manager for SETsquared Exeter.

From Silicon Valley to the Devonshire Valleys

Murray Reed has recently joined SETsquared Exeter as its new Innovation Manager where he will be supporting SETsquared Exeter members to grow and develop their businesses, together with delivering a new Scaleup Programme to help innovative growth companies to access University R&D, investment, corporate partners and new talent.

Murray is a New Zealander who, after getting a PhD building advanced lasers for semiconductor lithography at Stanford University, stayed in Silicon Valley for another 25 years.  He has worked in engineering and business management roles for multiple high-tech companies developing products for major international corporate customers including Intel, Apple, ASML, Samsung & Osram.

Murray explained how different conducting business is in the Silicon Valley: “I think the major difference is that the pace of change in San Francisco is significantly faster, with big companies rising and falling in quick succession, so a ‘question authority’ attitude is just assumed, and it is expected that serious disruptions are coming to every business.  In the UK, the pace of change still remains a bit slower, which is not entirely a bad thing of course, rapid change can destroy things very much worth sustaining, and the real challenge is to find the right balance.”

However, can UK business really benefit from a more dynamic approach? Murray believes that there are lessons to be learnt: “I think what UK businesses can learn from California businesses is to be more proactive in predicting and preparing for change. Starting and sustaining a business requires both constant re-evaluation and rapid reaction, so you need to understand and anticipate how all the capital and decisions that affect you, your customers and your competitors are going to shift. It is of course very difficult to look far ahead and plan long term when you have immediate urgent business, this is the well-known ‘innovators dilemma’ that all incumbents suffer, and the solution is to separate out that job into a network of more nimble start-ups. It is great to see the UK has embraced this idea and an entrepreneurial culture is getting well established.”

There are also many similarities between UK and US business and both have a shared understanding that success needs to be built from an effective support network. Murray revealed: “Being able to tap into a pool of talented, experienced people you trust and connect them with like-minded business partners around the world is what allows entrepreneurs to become serial successes and gather the resources and credibility to access the larger amounts of venture capital needed for bigger plays.”

Murray continued: “Business networks in Silicon Valley are much more dynamic than the traditional UK versions, being based on recent achievements and talent rather than inheritance and upbringing. It is great to see that this expansion in networking is happening all across the UK too, LinkedIn seems to be as popular here as anywhere, and we need to keep building this momentum by getting new talent and money into the right networks.”

Having moved from his home in New Zealand to San Francisco, Murray has now put down roots in Devon working with the SETsquared Exeter team. Murray explained: “When you come from New Zealand you are brought up to realise that your home is part of much bigger community. The natural complement to planning for long term consequences is thinking and acting on a global scale. When you’re scaling a company you need to find all the new customers you can, and today competition is global and supply chains have to be global. You also can’t just sell one thing in isolation, you have to offer a whole solution and modern systems are becoming increasingly complex and interdependent– you have become part of a bigger pool. This is where I can bring my international experience and network to bear, in helping SETsquared companies find international partners at speed.”

Murray continued: “I was drawn to Devon because it’s a beautiful part of the UK, a bit less rain and a bit more sun and it could be New Zealand, but right on the doorstep to Europe. I was drawn to SETsquared because it offers the perfect network for entrepreneurs and growth businesses to flourish. Universities offer a totally unique environment for developing new talent and ideas. Stanford University is very much at the heart of the Silicon Valley and is the starting point and catalyst for many of the tech ventures based there. SETsquared is a partnership of five outstanding research intensive universities, a really powerful combination. It acts as a magnet for innovation, investment and talent and that’s why we’re seeing so many successful businesses graduating from the SETsquared stable.”

Commenting on his role in delivering the new SETsquared Scaleup Programme Murray explained: “I am very much looking forward to expanding my own UK network through SETsquared and would strongly encourage everyone interested in creating a disruptive enterprise to come and join us.”

For more information on Murray visit his LinkedIn profile.
For more information on the SETsquared Scaleup Programme visit the website.

Date: 25 April 2018

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