SETsquared, Southampton University’s Business Incubation programme based at Southampton Science Park, along with its university partners at Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Surrey, has been recognised as one of the top four most influential university business incubators globally, by the recent UBI index report, and the number one incubation programme outside of the United States.
This follows a string of successes from the organisation, which has devoted considerable time and effort over the past few years to providing an increasingly valuable resource to southern start-ups.
Alan Scrase, a successful entrepreneur in his own right, was recruited as centre manager to fulfil SETsquared’s primary objective; of achieving success with its existing and growing portfolio of start-ups, allowing David Bream, director of the SETsquared programme at Southampton, to focus on continued development of the SETsquared concept. This winning partnership has been an outstanding success, with some great results emerging for the incubation centre itself, as well as the companies it supports.
The Global Benchmark survey gathered data from 150 business incubators across the globe. Their performance was judged on an assessment framework which focused on three key areas: value to ecosystem, value to customers, and attractiveness. The overall findings from the survey were very much in line with SETsquared’s own business principles which support the need for inspiring, entrepreneurial mentors and coaches, the importance of an active community, and the ability to attract not just innovative start-ups, but also the sources of funding to facilitate their success.
SETsquared Southampton’s simple formula focuses on the development of a viable business plan for its members, combined with mentoring and coaching to help them build the best management team possible, and supporting them throughout the process of obtaining funding.
Over the past 10 years SETsquared has refined its service and is now developing four areas of focus: intellectual property, open innovation, internationalisation, and equity funds.
The organisation has also been heavily engaged in developing its international agenda to help its existing group of start-ups address global markets and be international from day one. The team are working very closely with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), and with international business incubators, including two which also featured in the top ten European incubators in the UBI index. Hong Kong and the Far East are in their sights next, with trips planned in October.
David Bream comments: “I am extremely pleased with the success we have achieved this year and the continued development in our strategy. I attribute a good portion of the success we’re enjoying to the support we have received from Peter Birkett, CEO of Southampton Science Park, and the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of the vibrant Science Park community. Peter has always invested in nurturing start-ups in the local area, and he’s been an invaluable support to us. We are delighted to have our base at the Science Park, and to enjoy the additional benefits of a community of like-minded people.”
Despite its recent success, SETsquared will not be resting on its laurels. The eternal quest for new ways to add value to the service will see it focus next on developing a fund that can be invested directly in start-ups, removing some of the middle-man element and speeding up the process of getting new businesses to market.