Think of Basingstoke and you may not conjure up images of entrepreneurs creating the next big technological innovations, but with help from the world’s number one university business incubator the area is becoming a tech hub with start-ups from as far away as Italy clamouring to get in on the action.
SETsquared, which was ranked as the global number one university business incubator in November 2015, opened its innovation hub at Basing View at the end of 2014 after receiving £100,000 of support from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
Currently the innovation hub works with 13 high-tech and high growth potential start-up companies, working in sectors ranging from cyber security to transcription services, and provides them with support, mentoring and access to programmes that will help to develop business plans and funding strategies. As well as this, SETsquared’s various programmes put the entrepreneurs in front of real investors in a pitching environment and provides them with the opportunity to exhibit their businesses to corporates looking to adopt new technologies.
A recent success from SETsquared’s Basingstoke hub is the story of RazorSecure, a company which has created a real-time cyber security monitor designed for small-scale networks. RazorSecure is currently working on closing its current investment round and recently had its product trialled in Sweden on the MTR Express, a popular service that runs from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Other companies supported by the innovation hub in Basingstoke include Sherlock – a company from Turin that’s developed a GPS-based anti-theft device that allows cyslists to precisely locate their bicycle at any moment – which is currently following up on a number of partnerships as a result of a SETsquared event, as well as EV Nav, a company that started life as a sat nav app and changed business model thanks to advice and guidance from SETsquared. EV Nav now operates as a data broker for electric vehicle data and recently attended an Open Innovation event with Ford, organised by SETsquared.
SETsquared’s Basingstoke hub is headed up by entrepreneur-in-residence, Adrian Braine, who joined the team a year ago and whose role it is to help turn Basingstoke into a vibrant tech community. Adrian said: “We’ve had some great achievements in the first year and a half, including incubating 13 companies so far and starting a growing series of networking events for tech-minded people in the area. We really want to help build up a buzzing tech scene in the town and along the M3 corridor, and we’re seeing positive signs of that happening with the interest we’ve had in the hub and the results coming from all the activity.”
Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, said: “The Basingstoke innovation hub has gone from strength-to-strength, with some really exciting companies using our services. At SETsquared we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved in regions across the South and West, where the high tech scene is very much alive and kicking, and we’re working hard to instil that atmosphere in Basingstoke. We’re helping to build the next generation of technology companies with the talent pool in the area, which will lead to generating jobs and delivering economic growth.”
SETsquared will be running its highly commended Entrepreneurship Training Programme in Basingstoke on 19th to 21st September. Entrepreneurs who take part will experience an interactive course that covers all essential elements of starting a business, such as routes to market, raising money and perfecting a pitching, how to get a business idea off to a great start and how to get into a position to be ready to test the market. The course is open to any entrepreneurs with an idea for a tech-based product or service as well as more experienced entrepreneurs launching a new product or venture.
On 13th October, the Basingstoke hub will be holding a Google Developers Group event, as well as starting a 5G technology networking group in the autumn. The hub also provides masterclasses for the companies it incubates, on topics such as accountancy and legal matters, including intellectual property and data protection. Adrian is even planning on holding a hack weekend later in the year with a smart cities and retail theme, with the idea of building and running a solution on a real 5G phone.
Adrian said: “Where we’re placed at Basingstoke, we have a number of facilities available to us that mean we can support companies developing products and services using space technology as well as using next generation mobile and 5G. This really opens up what the companies can achieve and places us right at the beginning of the big tech innovations of the future.”
Over the last 14 years SETsquared has helped more than 1,000 businesses raise over £1bn in investment, as well as contributing over £3.8bn in GVA (Gross Value Added) to the UK economy with £8.6bn GVA estimated over the next 10 years – figures that have contributed to it being named by UBI Gobal as the top university business incubator in the world.
People wanting to apply to SETsquared’s Entrepreneurship Training Programme can do so at: www.setsquared.co.uk/enterprise