Growth hubs are a great way for businesses to tap into relevant business support or guidance. The Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) is a pioneering hub funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) offering support to SMEs operating in low carbon innovation.
STBAH launched its programme at the early part of 2018 and has already received over 50 applicants from various companies in the region. Once an application has been approved, individual diagnostic meetings take place to discuss specific requirements and a tailored support package is drawn up where the business receives 12 hours of free support. Depending on the business need this can either be with a dedicated consultant, an academic or researcher from the University of Bath or joining a workshops - generally a combination of these.
The first business approved and accepted onto the programme, was bath based Architecture and Design firm, Hewitt Studios, who have now completed the programme, with a number of other organisations near the completion stage.
Hewitt Studios signed up to the STBAH with a specific project - their K:Port concept - a modular Electric Vehicle Charging Hub (EVCH), designed to offer safe and sustainable EV charging at scale in urban settings. Hewitt Studios were looking for support with their business strategy, licensing models and agreements as well as marketing and sales material. Hewitt Studios were assigned a business consultant with expertise in the areas identified. As the relationship progressed between Hewitt and STBAH further ongoing research collaboration opportunities were also identified.
Following completion of the programme, John Hewitt, Partner at Hewitt Studios, talks about the benefits they have received from being part of the STBAH programme,
“It’s nothing but positive feedback from us! The advice and that from Steve Edwards, our assigned Business Consultant, has been first class, guiding us towards a more focussed business case for the K: Port product and quite separate from the core practice. Steve has been insightful and challenges in a uniquely non-confrontational way, which gets the best out of us, STBAH has brought focus, new perspective and a more targeted focus to our thinking and development plans.”
John Hewitt, goes on to say,
“The research links with Professor Furong Li, Director, Centre for Sustainable Power Distribution at the University of Bath have been excellent, opening up new joint opportunities which we have since explored in a joint Innovate UK bid for an energy hub in the region.
We had not initially recognised the extent of the differences, to be addressed, between designing K:Port ‘the product’ and delivering ‘one-off’ prototype buildings with which we are familiar. Our eyes have been opened and our development work accelerated as hoped as a result.
K:Port is about to become its own clearly defined business with a great deal more potential and value than it would otherwise have had - exciting times to come, as we have won our first tender outside of the region which should elevate the prominence of our solution as a result. This certainly confirms the market interest in K: Port as a required product. Understanding the critical short term better was one of the significant differences to our more familiar architectural practice activity, which unfolds often over many years.
Our current status is that we are preparing a proposal - excellently guided by Steve Edwards - intended to evaluate routes to market, develop model business plans and better evaluate options/consequences open to us.”
A final note from John Hewitt,
“I would recommend any SME or business seeing growth to apply for the STBAH programme - the benefits have been enormous for us. To receive free support of this nature has been invaluable and the research links with the University of Bath was of real benefit to a business of our size and is something we would otherwise not have gained access to.”
Pete Keevill, Entrepreneur in Residence for the STBAH goes onto say,
“Starting or growing a business is very challenging, so it’s natural for entrepreneurs to tap into all the help they can find. There are a vast number of support initiatives available to businesses and it can be confusing. The STBAH is for businesses in low carbon innovation in areas such as renewable energy products or services, sustainable built environment, smart city infrastructure or services, circular economy, sustainable chemical technology, low carbon products or services.
The STBAH programme is capable of facilitating introductions for businesses to collaborate with experts from the University of Bath - as research partners or through consultants and is able to create bespoke business support. Hewitt Studios came to us with a great business concept, they’ve been a delight to work with and its been inspiring to see the processes put in place to help get the K:Port to market. The K:Port EV charging hub could change the way our cities operate - as they say, watch this space.”
For further information and to make an application visit the STBAH website: https://www.stbah.org/
Watch and listen to John Hewitt as he explains what being on the programme has meant to Hewitt Studios: