University of Bath aims to power new generation of high-growth companies

May 18, 2018

A programme to enable some of the UK’s best tech scale-up companies become the sector giants of tomorrow has been launched by the University of Bath.

The programme, part of a national project, is supported by £5m of government money through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund. It will enable 240 of the most innovative scale-up companies across the UK access support to take them to the next stage of their development.

The university is involved through its membership of the SETsquared Partnership, the world’s No. 1 business incubator, which is also backed by the universities of Bristol, Exeter, Surrey and Southampton.

University of Bath interim head of research and innovation services Alison Evans said: “Since SETsquared started we have helped more than 3,500 businesses which have gone on to create more than 20,000 jobs and raise £1.5bn in investment.

“Our new scale-up programme 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 entire programme is expected to generate more than £25bn by 2030, create an additional 30,000 high-skilled jobs in the tech sector and help improve Britain’s poor investment record in research and development.

Business Secretary Greg Clark added: “The SETsquared Partnership has not only helped nurture and grow British technology businesses, but it has also contributed £8.6bn 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 estimates technology scale-ups are likely to produce 42% more GVA (gross valued added) than traditional scale-ups and generate 16% more jobs.

Ministers have committed to increasing productivity in the UK and increasing spending on research and development (R&D) from 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% to tackle these economic challenges. The UK currently ranks 22nd in a list of developed countries.

Alison Evans said SETsquared member companies tended to invest significantly in R&D.

“With the UK’s ‘R&D gap’, we want to show Parliamentarians how SETsquared can drive innovation in the UK,” she added.

“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 to become successful enterprises as they grow into global leaders in their industrial sectors.”

One Bath SETsquared business that reflects this is approach Verv. COO Maria McKavanagh said: “Verv is a clever home energy assistant that gives you intelligent information about key appliances and electricity usage in your home. 

“Using cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, Verv identifies appliances in your home by their unique energy signatures. It has also developed a peer-to-peer energy trading platform based on its energy monitoring hub that will improve access to affordable, green energy. 

“SETsquared has provided significant help in developing our business plan, preparing pitches and presentations, and generating feedback from local entrepreneurs. We’ve been working with it as part of its scale-up programme, which has also provided invaluable help in getting access to investment, knowledge transfer partnerships and applying for grant funding.”

More than 20 SETsquared member companies recently engaged with Parliamentarians to tell them about the challenges of starting or scaling a tech business in the UK.

Pictured at the launch of the programme, from left: Rosie Bennett of SETsquared Bath, Alison Evans of the University of Bath, and Yi Jean Chow and Scott Broadley from Verv


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