Tech start-ups in Hampshire and Surrey are being accelerated to the next level with help from new digital business acceleration hubs in Basingstoke, Farnborough, Guildford and Woking.
Since opening in February, over 114 digital startups in the region have benefited from an award-winning, intensive two-day entrepreneurship programme, specially designed for entrepreneurs with a new idea for a digital technology product or service. The programme covers all elements of starting a business, from identifying a solution to a problem and sizing the market opportunity to building a solid financial plan.
At the end of the course, the entrepreneurs with businesses with the highest growth potential are selected to receive a fully-funded place for up to one year with SETsquared Surrey’s digital business acceleration hubs.
The hubs, which are supported by the University of Surrey via their partnership in the global number one university business incubator SETsquared and are funded by £2.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and are nurturing new talent in the digital sector to turn entrepreneurs into the next British tech success stories.
Across the four hubs 48 high-tech, high growth potential start-ups have been offered support services with SETsquared Surrey, which is part of the enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. The start-ups range from a wearable technology to monitor horse wellbeing, to the UK’s fastest-growing independent character animation studios, a lifestyle robotics and artificial intelligence company and the first ever cross-platform virtual world for gamers.
Caroline Fleming, head of SETsquared Surrey at University of Surrey, said: “The programme has had an incredible start, to have had such a huge uptake and effect in just six months. The calibre of start-ups and entrepreneurs we’ve seen applying for the programme has been very high, showing that there is an enormous amount of technological talent in the region.
“The programme has been specifically designed to meet the needs of digital high-tech entrepreneurs across the M3 region, and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to provide significant support to over 114 start-ups in such a short amount of time.”
In total, more than 360 high-growth digital entrepreneurs will receive backing from the programme over the next three years. In addition to access to experienced mentors, the start-ups will be able to use specialist services connected to the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.
James Mannion, from start-up Leo Care Technologies, said: “I have never experienced a programme like this before, or rubbed shoulders with so many successful people. I have learnt more in two days on the course than I have since I started up my company. The course was extremely educating and massively beneficial.”
James Hill, director at start-up Fudge Productions, which is now supported by SETsquared through its Woking hub, said: “The course was exceptional, and I wish there had been something like this available 10 years ago when I first went into business.”
Jemma Hillyer, from start-up Fixxr Ltd, said: “I really appreciated being accepted on the course. Having access to the amazing bank of SETsquared mentors and angels was the highlight for me. I took 20 pages of notes.”
Through ERDF funding, the programme is funded by the Enterprise M3 LEP and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The programme is also supported by a number of partner organisations and councils, including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, Rushmoor Borough Council, Guildford Borough Council and Tannery Studios Innovation Centre for Creative Industries.