The new ‘Tech Nation’ report by Tech City shows that the UK’s digital ecosystem is thriving and what’s more, it’s breaking away from its ‘London-centric’ mindset with 74 per cent of digital companies now based outside the capital.
SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, is cited in the report as one of the organisations helping to support a ‘hotbed for future technologies’.
Nick Sturge, director at SETsquared’s centre in Bristol, says the report highlights a growing trend for digital and technological innovation in regions outside the capital.
“What’s interesting about the report is that it has identified that regional clusters vary greatly in expertise and that a focus on certain capabilities by local education institutions has led to sector specialisms in certain clusters,” he says.
“This is something we have seen first-hand at our five sites across the South. Take for example Bristol and Bath, where we have high volumes of silicon, embedded, enterprise and mobile software development, data management and analytics and EdTech entrepreneurs.
“Meanwhile in Southampton, with its university excelling in health and engineering research, we have seen a trend of specialism in health technology and renewable energy. Similarly Surrey, with its university investing heavily in its 5G centre, we have an explosion of mobile technology and the Exeter centre’s proximity to the MET Office means a higher proportion of climate change technologies.”
According to the report, 79 per cent of respondents Bristol & Bath say they have a network of entrepreneurs with whom they can share experience and ideas. Nick says this highlights the importance of partnerships such as SETsquared, which give digital and technology start-ups access to a huge pool of like-minded people and seasoned mentors.
He says: “The beauty of SETsquared is that it stretches across the whole of the South so entrepreneurs in Exeter, for example, can connect with peers in Surrey. This ‘wide net’ network is so important because, as the report states, each cluster has its own specialism and speaking to entrepreneurs with other specialisms can really benefit a business and help them identify new markets.”
Bristol and Bath, where SETsquared has two centres, are listed in the report as two of the areas with the highest levels of digital employment in the UK. There 61,653 are employed in the sector, coming second only to inner London where 251,590 are employed.
Nick says: “Companies based at our centres in Bristol and Bath and indeed our alumni companies there are seeing huge growth so these figures reflect what we’re seeing on the ground. The latest Bristol SETsquared member to graduate to alumni membership, after raising $12m, is planning to double its headcount as soon as it can.
SETsquared is a community supporter of TechNation and works closely with TechCity to share its 12 years of expertise in growing high tech start-ups. Since its inception SETsquared has supported over 1000 start-ups and helped them to raise over £1bn in investment. By 2025 SETsquared companies are expected to have added over £11bn to the UK GVA.
SETsquared is a long-standing partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey which specialises in growing high-tech start-ups through its incubation programme and other business acceleration services. SETsquared provides mentoring, access to investors and corporate innovators and a wide range of industry experts through its network and training programmes.
Its business incubation programme is ranked by the University Business Incubator Index as the best in Europe and second in the world and over the last decade it has helped over 1,000 high-tech start-ups to develop and raise more than a £1bn of investment.
Independent research carried out by Warwick Economics estimates the economic impact of SETsquared member companies to be £3.8bn over this period, with the creation of 9,000 jobs and that these companies will go on to deliver a further £7.3bn of impact to the UK economy in the decade ahead.