Bristol, Exeter and Southampton - Turning innovation into real world impact

The universities of Bristol, Exeter and Southampton have partnered with the universities of Bath and Surrey to create the SETsquared Partnership which has won numerous accolades for being the world’s leading university business incubator.

Since 2002, more than 4,000 entrepreneurs have received wrap-around business development and support that has helped their science and tech-based ventures to raise over £2.7bn of investment. Ziylo, a University of Bristol life sciences business supported by SETsquared, was sold for £623 million in 2018.

Independent analysis shows companies supported by SETsquared delivered £8.6bn of economic impact and created 20,000 jobs across the UK. By 2030, the economic impact of businesses supported by SETsquared is forecast to grow to £26.9bn.

However, SETsquared’s real dividend has been to accelerate the working relationships between the universities’ research and innovation offices which have pooled resources across the partnership to create a very large ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors. This has led to numerous innovation interventions in strategically important growth sectors for the UK economy, such as advanced engineering, digital technology, and health sciences.

One such intervention is the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe). Initially funded by Research England and Innovate UK, this programme enables early career researchers to rapidly test and determine whether there is a market to commercialise their research, science or technology, either as a spin-out or licence. ICURe provides researchers with up to £30,000 to validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace and access the SETsquared ecosystem for investment and partnerships.

SETsquared also runs the Scale-Up Programme, a £8m+ Research England Connecting Capability Fund project which, with support from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, also includes Cardiff University. To date the programme has worked with some 300 fast growing companies to help them secure over £80m funding for R&D projects they lead in collaboration with one of more of the partner universities.

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