MONIKA RADCLYFFE – LEADING THE CITY’S TECH CLUSTER GROWTH
SETsquared Bristol is the Global No.1 University-led Business Incubator working with the University of Bristol. I have been the Centre Director since 2016, working with over 250 companies, including Bristol Pound, Interactive Scientific, Immersive Labs, YellowDog and Zeetta Networks. Bristol is the second largest tech cluster in the UK and the most productive, with two ‘unicorns’ including Graphcore.
We have around 85 members and a strong alumni group of 22 businesses. In 2018, our members raised £80 million in investment, enjoyed a collective revenue of £43.5 million, and employed 1,100 people over 23 high tech industry sectors.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
We are getting it right here in Bristol. The tech sector is thriving, with growing interest from all parts of the global economy to invest, partner or purchase from our members’ businesses. It’s important that we keep developing our city to continually improve and grow our status as a global trading place, securing our position as an exciting tech cluster that delivers commercial success. With this in mind, we are expanding our incubation services through scaling to Engine Shed 2 and working closely with the new Temple Quarter campus so that more start-ups can make their idea a business reality.
Expansion also comes in the form of tech diversification. Our roots are deep tech, and yet Bristol has shown itself to be supportive of new emerging, cool tech sectors. Our members such as Data Cubed, LettUs Grow and Maths with Parents are all pushing boundaries in their tech niches of data science, Agritech and Edtech.
Increasing entrepreneurial diversity is a firm feature of Bristol’s future. With 16% of the city’s population from BAME backgrounds with 92 spoken languages, we are acting on this in a number of ways including our Breakthrough Bursary membership and other access activities. And lastly, we’ve started and are continuing our work proactively maintaining a community of high growth businesses once they leave SETsquared, through our alumni membership which includes known brands such as Blu Wireless, Neighbourly and Micrima. Keeping their involvement in the city economy is important as this provides a strong foundation for future prosperity and positive growth.
To all of those who are thinking about starting up a tech business, my advice to you is to go for it… but only once you have done your research and you are convinced people will buy your product or service. Many successful tech startups have a simple idea or proposition at their centre, but it’s the execution of those ideas that really matter. Build a strong team around you. Then you could be on to a winner.
Any tech businesses interested in joining the incubation programme can contact SETsquared Bristol at www.setsquared-bristol.co.uk.