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SETsquared celebrates 20 years of enterprise, innovation, and impact

SETsquared celebrates 20 years of enterprise, innovation, and impact

(From left to right: Marty Reid, SETsquared; Karen Brooks, SETsquared; Natasha Birk, Beauty Switch;  Nnanna Mbila, Afronifty; Dr Zeke Steer, Milbotix Ltd)

SETsquared celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with a bumper edition of its annual investment showcase and an awards celebration night, which recognised member companies which have had a significant social, environmental, or economic impact.

Over 200 investors came together at Church House, Westminster, for the SETsquared@20 annual investment showcase to see the latest crop of SETsquared-backed start-ups, spin-outs and scale-ups pitch for investment to take their innovations to the next level of growth.

The showcase has become the must-attend event in the investment calendar, and this year’s event was bigger and better than ever, with double the number of companies pitching and a lunchtime panel discussion which looked at the landscape for innovation and investment over the next 20 years.

Brianna Bao, Investor, Simsan Ventures, says: “We are an early-stage diversity venture capital fund. We back underrepresented founders and diverse teams developing cutting-edge technologies which are solving vital issues – we invest from pre-seed to Series A. SETsquared provides such a strong ecosystem to nurture start-up talent, and it’s been really exciting to see the mix of innovation here today, from immersive technologies to quantum to fintech. We’re looking to invest in 10 -15 companies in Europe which have the potential to have a global impact and have had some very positive conversations here today, which we will be following up on.”

Seven businesses which are currently supported or have been supported by SETsquared received Impact Awards in recognition of their positive effect on the environment, economy, and society. The SETsquared@20 Impact Award winners were The Washing Machine Project, Ultraleap, MOLE, Binit, TRUEinvivo and Ecomar.

The Showcase and Awards coincided with the launch of Warwick Economic and Development’s independent Impact Report, which estimates that between 2002 – 2022, the total GVA contribution of businesses supported by SETsquared is £15.7bn and that these companies created 15,600 jobs.

Marty Reid, Interim Executive Director, SETsquared said: “The numbers quoted in the Impact Report are a great demonstration of the long-term importance to the UK economy of supporting innovation, but it’s also a demonstration of our continued focus on supporting entrepreneurial talent to reach their potential.”

“From the IKEEP Programme, which helps students start their entrepreneurial journey and ICURe, which helps early career researchers commercialise their research, through to the business acceleration centres and Scale-Up Programme – we’ve developed an end-to-end portfolio of programmes – so founders, irrespective of their background and experience can find support that’s right for them.

“As a partnership of six universities, growing ventures are able to benefit from SETsquared’s scale while also relying on the local, collaborative, place-based approach of each University and SETsquared Centre.”

Investors can find out more about the companies that pitched at this event, plus others, on SETsquared’s Online Investment platform.

View the Impact Report here


More about the Impact Award winners

The Washing Machine Project

The Washing Machine Project has improved nearly 27,000 lives and has worked to solve some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian and development challenges. It has reached low-income communities in six countries around the world, from refugees in Iraq and Lebanon to Ukrainians in refugee shelters in Poland, from orphanages and primary schools in Uganda to homeless shelters in the US, with its Divya Manual Washing Machine. The machine requires no power source and saves up to 50% of the water and 75% of the time compared to manual handwashing.

Ultraleap began as a student start-up and now evolved into a fully-fledged scaling business. This company has become a significant player in the haptics space – which is powering the next wave of human potential and have created the world’s most advanced hand tracking. No controllers. No wearables. No touchscreens. Just natural interaction. They have created the next generation of interfaces with the world’s biggest brands such as PepsiCo, LEGO, Skoda, and Qualcomm.

They have created real economic and social impact by tirelessly pushing the boundaries of technology, whilst continuing to place emphasis on their own corporate social responsibilities, creating a number of highly-skilled jobs for Bristol and its surrounding areas.


MOLE is helping us drive to an all-electric future by developing a fully autonomous, robotic vehicle charging device which will enable electric vehicles to charge without cumbersome wiring. Users simply park over the “MOLE” to connect autonomously to the charger.

They are working with top-tier commercial fleet operators to accelerate their transition to electric mobility – not only will this have a significant positive impact on air quality – but it will also help the UK achieve its net zero ambitions.


Binit is a next-generation tech-led waste and recycling super broker, disrupting the UK’s recycling and waste industry with its customer-focused ethos. Putting the needs of each business together with those of the planet. They are now helping leading brands like Specsavers, Pizza Express, and Dominos manage their waste effectively and sustainably. They are also one of 11,000 employers across the country providing a living wage to their staff.


Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and radiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for cancer patients, but it can have harmful side effects. TRUEinvivo can measure radiation doses directly within patients to make radiotherapy treatment safer, more accurate, and more effective for millions worldwide. DOSEmapper™  is already in use in the NHS and UK private sector.


If all marine vessels currently in operation were a nation-state, they would be the 6th most polluting nation in the world. Ecomar has declared a purpose to remove 10 million tonnes of that pollution in the next 10 years. By creating innovative batteries and hydrogen-electric powertrains, they will drastically cut carbon emissions.

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