Date: 28th March 2014
England, UK, 28th March 2014 – A European research initiative has warned that university business incubators in the UK are in danger of becoming ‘sausage factories’.
UBI Index, which has just published a 70-page dossier, analysing the top global performing university incubators, says the industry is leaning towards a prescriptive approach that could limit the chances of promising start-ups.
Creating a fertile breeding ground within areas of technological innovation and cutting-edge research is the best way for university incubators to foster a future fleet of successful start-ups, it adds.
Dhruv Bhatli, Co-Founder, UBI Index, said: “Sadly the industry is leaning towards a ‘sausage factory’ approach. Incubation is undergoing tremendous change and only entrepreneur-centric incubation programmes are going to survive. Unless incubators understand that each startup is different and has distinct requirements, they will never be able to help start-ups achieve their full potential.”
He highlights SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, as an incubator that is pushing back against the prescriptive approach.
He said: “That’s where SETsquared is different – it adapts its offer to fit the entrepreneurs, which is unique and the only way to avoid the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.”
SETsquared’s incubator, which is ranked as the joint best in the UK and the fourth best globally in the UBI Index, is featured as a best practice model in UBI’s new report.
Dhruv Bhatli continued: “Other incubators could learn from the absolute focus of SETsquared on its clients and its commitment to providing value to its startups. That single-minded focus on the entrepreneur is what makes a champion incubation programme, one that SETsquared clearly is. Another lesson to take from SETsquared is to engage with research-intensive universities. This is something that contributes to the quantity and quality of deal flow, which is the heart of an incubation programme.”
SETsquared was formed in 2002 and runs business incubation centres at the five universities, from which high tech start ups have access to intense business mentoring, networking opportunities and flexible office space.
Over the last 11 years it has helped over 1,000 high tech start ups attract some £1.2 billion in investment. It offers its network of around 150 investors access to only the highest potential tech start-ups. With around 100 applications to join the incubator programme every year, only 50% make the cut, highlighting the calibre of businesses under the SETsquared umbrella.
Karen Brooks, Project Director at SETsquared, says she believes the key to the incubator’s success has been the way it treats each of its clients as unique.
She said: “At SETsquared we are not prescriptive with any of our companies, since all of them have very different needs and are in different situations. Our job is to identify those needs and build a customised program to provide them maximum assistance.”
Simon Bond, Director of SETsquared’s centre in Bath, added: “A close association with research-intensive universities that puts us at the heart of a lot of technology innovation, and in the middle of a cluster of talented engineers, scientists and technologists has been core to our success. This in itself creates a well of activities that bring entrepreneurs close to us.”
The Best Practices at Top University Business Incubators report provides timely and vital information on how to streamline and optimise university business incubators as it reviews the best university incubators in the market and explains how they achieved their success
UBI Index is a European research initiative established to assist incubators around the world to become more efficient and competitive. Based in Stockholm with an international research team, UBI Index has successfully released the first benchmark study of the best university business incubation program around the world. In the Global Benchmark of 2013, 150 incubators from 22 countries participated in the research.
Full copies of the report are available on request.
For more information, images or interviews please contact:
Laura Downton at Carswell Gould
T: 023 80 238001
SETsquared is a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey which partners in enterprise activities and collectively supports the growth and success of new business opportunities through spin-outs, licensing, incubation and education. The partnership also works with industry through research collaboration and consultancy.
The University Business Incubator (UBI) Index has listed the SETsquared incubator as the best in Europe, alongside jointly-placed NDRC LaunchPad in the Republic of Ireland. The ranking puts SETsquared fourth in the world, with the only other higher ranking counterparts hailing from the US.
In 2013 SETsquared was hailed as a ‘best practice’ model for business incubation in a paper presented at the first International Entrepreneurship Research Exemplars Conference. The document, Management, Strategy and Policy suggestions for European academic incubators: the Creation of a Start-ups’ Ecosystem in the South West England, was authored by Angelo Miglietta and Dario Peirone and copies are available via Carswell Gould on the details below.
Find out more at www.setsquared.co.uk