Flying radioactive sensor drones developed as a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and a system designed to save London cyclists from being run over by buses.
Just two of more than 50 of the UK’s most exciting tech companies that drew more than 200 investors, 350 delegates and a slew of MPs to the Accelerating Growth event in Westminster today (Nov 27).
A panel of leading industry figures, including Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, met to debate the support required to help UK tech companies emulate the success of their US cousins.
Accelerating Growth was a landmark event to mark the 10th Anniversary of the SETsquared Partnership, Europe’s number one university business incubator. The collaboration between five of the leading UK research universities – Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey – has helped more than 1,000 businesses raise over £1 billion during its ten-year history. SETsquared is designed to develop new businesses from university research and support early-stage technology companies with high growth potential.
Of the 54 companies exhibiting, 21 were pitching for more than £13m of investment to develop their businesses in the UK’s largest investor showcase. These were chosen by a tough selection process that whittled the number down from more than 70 companies that applied. Representatives of investment giants like Intel, Scottish Equity Partners and Qualcomm Ventures Europe attended, attracted by the pre-screened deal flow put together by the five SETsquared incubators.
Other technologies on show included a British designed transceiver that will allow the world’s two billion rural people shut out of mobile phone communications to create cheap open source networks, an all terrain wheelchair that enables wounded soldiers to experience the thrill of hill-climbing and a hugely successful business developing cases for the Raspberry Pi computer.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “There are some really great companies here today. I don’t think anyone can question for a minute the technology side of what these companies are doing. Now what we need to do is make sure these companies can succeed in a business sense and that’s what SETsquared is trying to do and that’s what events like this are trying to do – make sure these companies can convert their ideas into economic wealth.”
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock was among a number of MPs from both sides of the House of Commons attending.
He said: “In the UK in the past we’ve had a history of having great ideas but not necessarily getting them to market but what SETsquared does is takes those ideas and supports people as they turn them into commercial reality and British businesses and that’s what we need much, much more of.”
SETsquared Partnership Director Graham Harrison said: “We said this event would demonstrate our world leading technology and it has delivered in spades. No one who attended can be in any doubt about the strength in depth of our technology base at SETsquared or the quality of the entrepreneurial spirit.
“Companies incubated by SETsquared are today not only making a significant contribution to the UK economy but changing the world for the better. What we have seen here today shows we have a bright future, with this latest crop of companies certain to make a major contribution to the growth of UK PLC and create a significant number of high-value jobs.”