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SETsquared Conference 2020

9th January 2020

University of Surrey Vet School



The Surrey DBAH Programme

The DBAH programme at Surrey was the first to test out the effectiveness of the Entrepreneurs Programme as a one to many support tool and a pipeline generator for the incubator. It overcame many challenges to smash our KPIs and support 629 business ideas to develop into at least 57 new innovative products/services. It doubled the number of companies supported at SETsquared Surrey by bringing in 149 new incubation members and enabled the network to expand with new mentors, affiliates, and investors and funds. We supported the incubated companies to raise over £17 million in funding.

We received amazing feedback from participants, continuously ranking us as inspirational.

It was a successful collaboration between the central team and the SETsquared Surrey team, where the central team recruited to, organised, delivered and project managed the EPs and set up two new virtual hubs and the SETsquared Surrey team managed the incubation membership and the delivery at the Guildford and Basingstoke Hubs. There were a lot of staff involved in the delivery and all deserve this recognition.

The programme also allowed a closer relationship to be forged with the borough councils and EM3, leading to new funding opportunities and created a basis for further ERDF programmes to be awarded and bid for.


Incorporated at the SETsquared Bath Centre’s Office Christmas Party in 2011, retail cloud solution provider Zynstra has gone on to raise £19.3m of investment to design and deploy a powerful software suite that virtualizes back and front office store technology. The solution has been so successful that Zynstra was acquired two days before this Christmas for £ 100m by NCR  Corporation (NYSE: NCR).  Zynstra was founded and seed-funded by entrepreneurs in the SETsquared network and so it was not surprising that as a double award winner at this year’s UK IT Industry Awards Zynstra won the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award (as well as the award for Infrastructure Innovation of the Year). In addition to building a great technology business, the Zynstra leadership team, headed by Founder & CEO Nick East, have been generous with their time and wisdom to fellow SETsquared Entrepreneurs and University of Bath students throughout their entrepreneurial journey where, among many acts of ‘giving’ back, Nick was a regular guest speaker on the Bath MBA Entrepreneurship course.

Paul Forster and the BAME Diversity Project

Sponsorship was secured from University of Bristol to invest into carrying out BAME diversity report. Paul has then led on partnering with Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street to execute recommendations mentioned in the research focusing on overcoming barriers for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background entrepreneurs accessing business incubation in the city.

Paul has also partnered with an agency to carry out marketing audit focussed on diversity and inclusion to improve materials and communications.

As part of our Diversity and Inclusion agenda, Paul has also led on the following Diversity and Inclusion initiatives:
• Partnered with Mogul Magazine, Bristol’s first black-led digital magazine, publishing monthly business advice and ‘Digital Business Surgeries’ for readers.
• Implemented a new SETsquared bursary for BAME tech entrepreneurs –be launched 27 February 2019 – fully funded by SETsquared Alumni.
• Ran two #Idea2Pitch events in 2018 – a free biannual community workshop and networking event for aspiring tech founders.
• Published a SETsquared podcast with our member Azir Razzak, Founder of A2Z Technologies, where Paul was a guest speaker too discussing ‘why diversity in business matters’.

Paul is very passionate about Diversity and Inclusion and it would be great to see him recognised for his hard work.

Daniel Oliver and Social Enterprise

SEIP has showcased what the Bath Innovation Centre, University and regional sector partners can deliver together.

SEIP has worked closely with diverse business communities and external organisations across the region to create positive outcomes for startups. It has enabled support to hundreds of new organisations and created new regional partner relationships that will continue to deliver value far beyond the programme’s completion.

The direct delivery of training and incubation support on the SEIP programme has covered a wide range. It has worked with over 300 organisations and has already delivered over £16.2m in economic benefit in the West of England for a total investment of £1.82m of which £912k came from the ERDF an ROI of 890%. It will meet or exceed all its funding agreement targets.

The social impact of SEIP has been hugely impressive, touching the lives of more than 4.2m beneficiaries and supporting a social value of over £200m. It has helped to launch nearly 200 social enterprises which as a group strongly outperform their non-SEIP counterparts.

Now more than ever before impact/social purpose is part of investment decisions; who skilled workers choose to work for; who they buy from; and who they work with. In the West of England, under Dan’s leadership, it is clear SEIP has led the way.

Ben Voysey and the Exeter Foundations Programme

The SETsquared Exeter Foundations Programme has been developed by Ben Voysey since joining the SETsquared Exeter team early in 2019. It provides a structure to the Business Acceleration services that brings together the support available to members from the Entrepreneurs in Residence, the professional service partners and the University.

The Foundations Programme sets clear development targets for the participants and offers the flexibility to deliver support to both Accelerator and Incubator members at the Exeter Science Park Centre.

It has provided the structure around which relationships have been built with local professional services firms who engage as “Advisers in Residence”, delivering both drop-in surgeries and workshop style sessions.

Although only working with its first cohort of clients the Foundations Programme is proving popular with members and support providers, offering an action learning environment that stimulates thought and discussion in the workshops and leads to greater and more focused discussion with the Entrepreneurs in Residence.

The Foundations Programme was also at the heart of the successful University of Exeter Enterprise Zone (UEEZ) bid which will help to fund enhancements to the incubation space and help SETsquared Exeter to deliver Business Acceleration services to businesses based across the region.

The Foundations Programme really provides the firm basis on which the growing SETsquared Exeter support activities can be built.

Matt Morley, Tickbox and Savvy

Matt Morley studied at Exeter where the SETsquared Exeter Student Start Up team help him to launch the voter advice platform, Tickbox, for the 2015 General Election. Tickbox was one of the first student-led ventures ever to pitch at the Investor Showcase and Matt was named as “One to Watch” in the Top 50 in 15 celebrations.

Matt has continued drive young voter engagement in the UK, in the Referendum in 2016, and the 2017 and 2019 General Elections, engaging with more than 4 million users on his platforms.

Matt was also able to develop a start-up called Savvy, which was accepted into Y-Combinator in 2018 and is now based in San Francisco translating the experience gained in helping people decide who to vote for, into support businesses in accessing answers from varied sources of information.

In 2019 Matt contacted the Student Startup Team asking how they could make best use of his experience and connections Working together we created “S4” – the Savvy Student Startup Scheme – which will select the best of Exeter’s Student Start-Ups to receive mentoring from Matt, the opportunity to bid for grant funding and a funded visit to Silicon Valley to connect with the Savvy network and understand what it takes to build a start-up in San Francisco.

This unique opportunity for Exeter students stems from the relationship developed with Matt while he was a student and highlights the value of Student StartUp activity in developing the entrepreneurs of the future

James Symes, The Bike Club

Whilst studying at Exeter, James and a friend, George Taylor, founded Taylor Symes Ltd., a bicycle parts business. They won the University of Exeter’s Smart Solutions award for Student Entrepreneurship in 2010. George Taylor, also an Exeter graduate, has continued to run the company, growing it to over £1.5 million turnover and employing 15 people with no external investment.

More recently, James Co-Founded, the Bike Club. This financial technology company provides pay-monthly kids bikes which you exchange as your children grow.

With thousands of members nationwide, the Bike Club is bringing the subscription model to bicycle ownership. Members simply subscribe to a bike and then can choose to exchange, own or return it. This form of subscription lending offers a sustainable alternative to purchasing high-quality goods and is the first financial service to target the circular economy.

James has recently pitched at the 2019 AGIS.

Kalkidan Lagesse, Sancho’s Shop

Kalkidan Lagesse runs Sancho’s Shop, an ethical clothing store focusing on fairtrade and sustainable products and processes.

The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world it is paramount to Kalkidan that her business and its peers challenges the status quo and provides an alternative to the industry. They have many things in the pipeline, including the opening a second shop in Exeter.

Sanchos was recently a runner-up in the post-revenue category of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. They received a £15,000 grant, £3,000 internship sponsorship, mentorship, a Microsoft laptop and web development support.

As Kalkidan’s business grows, she has returned to the University to complete an MBA, and has just been awarded funds to develop new business which will be linked to SETsquared Exeter.

Immersive Labs

Member company Immersive Labs closed their $40m Series B with ongoing participation of Goldman Sachs – read more here:

They have been a member with us for two years, joining as a newly founded company and we’ve supported them through this period of hyper growth to now being more than 100 employees.

The Breakthrough Bursary Scheme

In 2019 SETsquared Bristol introduced the Breakthrough Bursary Scheme – a 75% funded SETsquared membership for founders from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Three new companies joined the centre and the scheme will re-run again in 2020. It was funded directly from our Alumni membership fees – helping us engage our Alumni community in giving back to the ecosystem in a way that’s truly impactful for the diversity of our community.

Serena Giaminardi and the Events Team

Serena Giaminardi and her team have been nominated for all the work they did on the first Graduate Acceleration Showcase that we ran in June 2019. Serena’s drive, determination, persistence and creative problem solving ensured that this day went ahead and was a resounding success. I am always impressed with Serena’s work – and that of her closely-knit team – but she excelled herself for this event. She has an amazing ability to present a calm and upbeat persona whilst shielding the rest of us from some major mishap that she is currently magically sorting out – you only get to find out what when wrong when she and the team have fixed it.

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