SETsquared tops Trumps

Aside

SETsquared tops Trumps 

The top Incubator illustrates the range of support that can be offered to young businesses.

Karen Brooks of SETsquared, a partnership of five universities centred on Bristol, recently rated ‘Global Number 1 University Business Incubator’, spoke at a recent ‘Knowledge London’ meeting of leaders of university incubators about the six programmes – at a variety of levels in the innovation pipeline and in various sectors – that SETsquared runs; and added that it was all about a mutual relationship with industry – understanding what business wants; and she commented that SETsquared had no academics on its staff.

The most striking contrast, I suggested at that meeting, between Accelerators most of which are branded ‘pop-ups’ (as c.12 week programmes) and Incubators many of which are in universities, is that the former:

  • are more involved with their businesses
  • provide more input and support,
  • have many more contacts with the business world.

But SETsquared is a leader in all of these respects.

At the Pervasive Media Studio at Wastershed, Bristol – a twelve month home to a dozen young businesses, over lunch together on a Friday everyone has to talk about their progress, about which notes are immediately circulated so that teams can meet up to learn from one another’s experience. Jim Milby, until recently a Director of Barclays Bank, who mentors at Startupbootcamp, insists on a weekly review with his team wherever he is a mentor. Paul Miller, one of the authors of Nesta’s The Startup Factories, and founder of Bethnal Green Ventures – a winner of a major grant from the Cabinet Office’s Social Enterprise Startups programme – holds a review once a week with every team in the Accelerator. At ‘Office Hours’, he asks the same questions of each team “What did you achieve last week, what will you do next week, what is stopping you; and what have you learned”.

Accelerators provide more input and support, especially in the form of mentors, notably with specific advice eg on design, potential customers, fundability etc – often in a ratio of four or five to every team. Techstars, Startupbootcamp and Wayra Lab all have around 150 mentors for each programme, (as does SETsquared,) among whom two or three are regularly attached to each team; and Seedcamp has even more.

As does SETsquared, they have many more external contacts with local practitioners, experts and entrepreneurs in businesses in the sectors in which their young businesses are involved, upon whom they can call for specific help. Moreover their leaders are often entrepreneurs themselves.

Incubators are still essentially providers of office space more than they are facilitators of business development, but it takes little (often only a canteen) to encourage their occupants, who are all on the same growth path, to draw from others’ experience and find the essential help that they often did not know they needed!

John Whatmore, November 2016

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An Accelerator Workshop

Aside

Accelerators – a Discussion Forum                                                                          under Chatham House Rules                                                                               Wednesday,18 June, 2014                                                                                                    at IDEALondon, 69 Wilson Street, London EC2A 2BB

An opportunity to meet up with people involved with early-stage projects – Incubators, Science Parks, Enterprise programmes and Accelerators – to learn about and discuss the experience of those involved with Accelerators.

At IDEALondon, UCL’s new incubator in Tech City (where we will have a tour), two Accelerator leaders and a mentor/investor will tell us about their experience; we will discuss problems and opportunities – in problem-solving mode – and what makes for a successful Accelerator; and a Guru will offer us a picture of what Accelerators might be like in 2020.

To book a place, see below.

AGENDA

9.30 Coffee and registration.

10.00 Introductions: John Whatmore.                                                                         Participants: your role and your interests in Accelerators?

10.30 Jessica Stacey, joint author (with Paul Miller – see below) of Nesta’s recent report Good Incubation, will give a quick overview of the different applications and approaches of Accelerators that we are seeing; and the opportunities they present.

11.15 Coffee

11.35 Paul Miller, Bethnal Green Ventures (and joint author of Nesta’s report Good Incubation, and of Nesta’s earlier report, The Startup Factories), will join Simon Jenner, Oxygen Accelerator, and Stuart Hillston, a multiple mentor and investor, to discuss the best and the worst of their experiences – on topics such as: recruiting good candidates, delivering an effective programme, mentors and mentoring, relationships with funders, and setting up and running an Accelerator.

12.45 Buffet lunch followed by a short tour of UCL’s Incubator

2.00 Kate Stuart-Cox, an expert facilitator in problem-solving will discuss with us ways in which aspiring entrepreneurs (and others involved) might be helped to solve problems.

2.30 Group discussions: what in your experience is best about Accelerators; and what are the downsides.

3.15 Tea

3.30 Group discussions continue: what are your plans for the future (changes, developments, innovations); and what is holding you up?

4.00 Groups report back to a full session.

4.30 Final session: Nektarios Liollios, CEO of Startupbootcamp Fintech, just launching here in London, has run Accelerators in a number of cities throughout the world, and is a leading expert on them. He will speculate about the future of Accelerators: might they become the universal approach to generating innovation; and if so, who will lead their adoption; and how might they differ in different circumstances?

5.00 Finish

Cost: £245+VAT = £294.To reserve a place, (places will be limited)e-mail john.whatmore@btinternet.com. Your place will be confirmed on receipt of payment – either by cheque to the Centre for Leadership in Creativity,

138 Iffley Road, London W6 0PE, or by bank transfer to the Centre’s bank, HSBC, sort code 40-03-21, account no 62065010.