The University of Bath-backed SETsquared Partnership, the world’s No 1 business incubator, is forecast to contribute nearly £27bn to the UK economy and create more than 22,000 jobs over the next 12 years.
According to independent research by Warwick Economics and Development (WECD), SETsquared has already boosted the economy by £5.8bn since its launch by a group of leading research-intensive universities in 2002.
Over that period it has also helped more than 3,600 businesses. The level of employment supported by these businesses is estimated at 10,900 jobs in 2017. This is projected to rise to 22,200 by 2030.
In the past two years alone it has supported 965 businesses, including a number based at its base in the University of Bath’s Innovation Centre on Broad Quay. Last year businesses assisted by the partnership employed or supported nearly 11,000 people.
But WECD’s research shows SETsquared’s economic impact will increase significantly by 2030, with the number of companies it supports reaching 6,650 with a Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution of £12.4bn.
Adding an estimate of the impact of their combined supply chains, the total contribution rises to a total of £26.9bn.
SETsquared Bath centre director, Rosie Bennett, said: “The findings from the report show the important role incubators, such as SETsquared, play in nurturing new businesses, entrepreneurship and innovation in the UK, as well as the positive impact this has on the UK economy through job creation and GVA contribution.
“With the expansion of SETsquared’s support to scale-up companies, and the significant growth we have seen in the number of start-ups we are supporting, we hope to exceed the projections outlined by the WECD in its latest report.”
Among SETsquared Bath’s success stories is Ubiquisys, which was established in 2004 as a developer of ‘small cells’ – devices that help mobile operators to increase capacity and provide high-quality coverage in their wireless networks.
After the successful growth of the business, during which it attracted investment of $86m (£66m), it was acquired in May 2013 by US tech giant Cisco for $310m (£238m).
Ubiquisys co-founder and VP engineering Pete Keevill is full of praised for the role SETsquared Bath played in its growth.
“The co-founders all came from a large company background, so one of the biggest worries for our investors was the transition from a big corporate to being self-sufficient entrepreneurs and our openness building the right management team,” he said.
“We had to prove we could make this change, and SETsquared helped us position ourselves successfully to achieve it.”
SETsquared has twice been named as the best business incubator in the world. The accolade, won in 2015 and this year, was awarded for its outstanding contribution to developing the next generation of UK tech entrepreneurs and was a result of the world’s most extensive benchmark study of university-linked business incubators and accelerators, conducted by UBI Global.
The Bath SETsquared Innovation Centre offers virtual and residential memberships as well as business acceleration support programmes that align with the University of Bath’s research strengths, which include advanced engineering, digital innovation, health and sustainable technology.
The SETsquared Partnership is also backed by the universities of Southampton, Bristol, Exeter and Surrey.