NEWS25 September 2023

SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme members set to contribute £1.3bn to UK economy

SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme members

A new independent report published yesterday by Warwick Economics and Development at SETsquared’s Future of the Economy event in Bristol estimates that companies supported by its Scale-Up Programme will contribute £1.3bn GVA to the UK economy between 2018 and 2030.

Established in 2018, SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme supports innovative, growing businesses to raise public and private investment to collaborate on research and development (R&D) with its six partner universities (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey).

For the University of Surrey, the programme has played a key role in creating additional business and academic collaborations, helping to broaden the impact of the University’s world-leading research. Specifically, the Scale-Up Programme has supported 13 new funded projects with the University as the lead with an SME partner, generating £1.6m of collaborative research and development funding.

The report also estimates that the Scale-Up Programme has helped:

Funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, the Programme grew a membership base of 450+ UK-wide innovation-led companies across key sectors, including digital innovation, health and wellbeing, advanced engineering and manufacturing and environment, sustainability, marine and maritime. For every £1 of funding, the Scale-Up Programme’s return on investment is £7.50.

Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England says: “Leveraging their collective capabilities, SETsquared’s Scale-Up programme has demonstrated how significant commercial outcomes can be achieved by universities working together as a cluster, building a concentration of opportunity and activity. The project has provided one of the models of leading-edge commercialisation collaborative practice supported by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, and its insights will contribute to our development of national policy evidence and institutional best practice materials.”

The report draws on a survey conducted with member companies, which has revealed that between 2018 and 2023, member companies have secured £713m private investment, with 4 in 10 businesses reporting that the Scale-Up Programme has helped them secure investment. This rises to 6 in 10 businesses within the environmental sustainability sector.

The survey also indicates that the programme has made a substantial contribution to employment growth among member businesses participating in the Programme. The total number of employees across businesses supported by the Programme has more than doubled, with an increase of 260% between 2018 and 2023.

Anthony Bennett, Chief Operating Officer of Ecomar Propulsion, a Scale-Up member, said: “The Scale-Up Programme has moved us on probably five years beyond where we dreamed we would be at this stage. We now have 15 people in our workshops, producing one-megawatt internal ship systems for large vessels, whereas three years ago, it was two men in a tent on the driveway. Ecomar Propulsion could not be the company it is today without the work of SETsquared and the university collaboration.”

Karen Brooks, Head of Scale-Up, SETsquared says: “The Scale-Up Programme has proven to be a highly successful model to facilitate university and harder-to-engage SME R&D collaborations. It has created a dynamic market where researchers and companies can find the right partner to work with, greatly benefiting both parties. Academics need to demonstrate the impact of their research, and companies need university-grade research to continually develop and verify their cutting-edge innovations.”

“The stats, however, only tell one side of the story. Behind the figures lie many examples of world-leading innovations that will one day transform how we live and work, access healthcare, and significantly contribute to meeting NetZero targets. I’m incredibly proud of our part in setting them on this growth trajectory. Securing investment and improved business performance now is highly likely to have longer-term impacts on their business growth terms in creating further jobs and GVA within the economy.”

SETsquared continues its strong support for deep tech, science, and innovation-led businesses in multiple sectors, including health & wellbeing, NetZero and next-generation digital. These opportunities and more can be accessed via SETsquared’s Innovation Platform, a dynamic online community for start-ups, scale-up and spin outs, and all innovation-led companies to get connected and access funding, investment, and support opportunities.

Download the full Scale-Up Impact Report