Category: Business Support

Minority ethnic tech founders supported by SETsquared Bristol Breakthrough Bursary

Acclaimed technology incubator SETsquared Bristol, led by the University of Bristol, is relaunching its Breakthrough Bursary for the fourth year, continuing its commitment to tech inclusivity. 

The bursary is for UK tech entrepreneurs from a minority ethnic background, providing access to tailored business support at heavily discounted rates. This includes coaching and mentoring, advice clinics, events, skills and training workshops and support to raise investment.

Awardees also benefit from SETsquared’s supportive community and three months free access to desk space in a shared office at Engine Shed.

The initiative is kindly funded by SETsquared Bristol alumni members and the University of Bristol.

Fourteen companies have been recipients of the bursary to date including South West-based startups FluoretiQ, Gritty Talent and LatchAid, and have raised a combined £2.7 million in investment. 

Inclusivity tracking tool Inclued was one of five bursary awardees in 2021. Inclued’s Founder and CEO, Joyann Boyce, who has since been named one of the South-West’s 42 Under 42 by Insider Media and TechSPARK’s Top 50 Rising Star, said:

“My experience of the Breakthrough Bursary has been nothing but positive. As an entrepreneur you often feel like you are out there on your own, but SETsquared Bristol provides a supportive community of founders at all stages. Access to the Entrepreneurs in Residence has been fundamental to mapping out our investment strategy.” 

Another of last year’s bursary recipients, Ali Kazmi Founder of the UK’s first dedicated, ethically compliant investment platform, Ethical Equity, said:

“Being part of SETsquared Bristol via the Breakthrough Bursary has been instrumental to our success. In particular, having access to market/founder insights and SETsquared’s extensive network.” 

 Marty Reid, SETsquared Bristol Director, said:

“Inclusive and sustainable growth is more vital than ever in our current climate. Our ambition is to work towards levelling the playing field for minoritised groups within the tech sector by improving access to support, investment and networks. We look forward to welcoming new awardees with exciting ideas to our community.”

Since SETsquared Bristol launched the Breakthrough Bursary in 2019, companies at the incubator with founders from a minority ethnic background have increased from 14% to 24%. This compares favourably to the UK average where less than 9% of senior tech leaders are from a minority ethnic background. 

Any UK-based entrepreneurs from a minority ethnic background can apply for the Breakthrough Bursary if they are developing a tech startup, or growing an existing company.

Find out more and apply by 7 November 2022.

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Developing a sector strategy for West Sussex

Wired Sussex is collaborating with the University of Chichester and Coastal West Sussex to develop a strategy for the creative digital sector along the coastal corridor between Brighton and Chichester.

The strategy will focus on multiple ways to enhance and connect the existing creative digital growth activity, helping businesses and others benefit from regional collaboration. The aim is to provide an ambitious and coherent plan backed up with strong evidence in order to support applications by regional authorities for funding to support the sector.

Wired Sussex has a strong track record in strategic work that has delivered significant infrastructure investment in their region. In 2016, they conducted a project in Bognor Regis, identifying and supporting digital creative companies in the area, and working out their needs. The result of this work not only helped people come together, build stronger networks and accelerate the creative industries, but also led to the renovation of the Victorian waiting rooms at Bognor Regis station into a new co-working space called The Track.

Visit the Wired Sussex website to find out more about the Coastal West Sussex project.

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Sunderland Software City launches Digital Pathfinders programme

£2m programme will help drive digital transformation in the North East.

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C4DI’s second incubator launches in May

Building on the success of C4DI in Hull, the organisation is set to launch their second incubator next month.

Located in Northallerton, the new facility will be officially opened on 11th May during Hambleton Business Week.

C4DI Northallerton is an exciting new digital hub focused on helping tech companies grow and traditional businesses innovate within the agriculture, food processing and digital sectors.

Unique to C4DI’s model is the way in which traditional business is brought together with fast tech startups and scaleups through custom innovation programmes and startup incubation. This gives the traditional business access to skills and expertise it never knew it needed and gives tech companies unrivalled supply chain and mentor access.

One of the best things about the C4DI is the community of talented people it creates. From designers to hardware specialists, technologists, marketeers and developers, everyone works together to help businesses become more successful.

It is based on the district council’s new Treadmills development where the former Northallerton prison is being redeveloped into a centre for retail, business and leisure.

Read more about C4DI Northallerton.

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Tech East launches Digital Innovation Programme for SMEs

Tech East is partnering with Amazon Web Services to bring two weeks of digital innovation support to the region’s small businesses.

The first week, April 29th – 6th of May, focuses of the “art of the possible for SMEs”. It will provide inspiration and practical examples highlighting how SMEs in the UK are leveraging cloud capabilities to transform and differentiate their businesses. The aim is to help businesses realise opportunities to drive growth, reduce costs and improve customer experience. The types of session include interactive webinars, fireside chats with SMEs and drop-in support sessions.

The second week, starting 24th of May, focuses on a five day, 9 hour “invent with Amazon program” where businesses will be able to get hands-on help from AWS to define a new product, service or experience that will delight customers. Participants will “work backwards” from their customers, using tried and tested Amazon methods, and then be supported to bring their new digital offering to life and test it with their customers.

Watch Tech East COO Tim Robinson explain more about the programme here.

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Roundtable 3 – Digital Technology as an Enabler

Digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery. However, digital skills are broad, wide ranging and dispersed. COVID-19 gives an opportunity to reflect and change outmoded structures and ensure the workforce has the chance to have the right skills at the right time through a robust data-driven approach.

Something that we’re touching on is also the impact of having a diverse group with different backgrounds and different experiences. Having a diverse group leads to the most fruitful economy, collaborations and creativity. It brings new ideas to the table. And it’s something that I think we really need to be striving towards as we respond to this crisis.

Georgina Phillipson, Enterprise Support Coordinator, Oxford Brookes University

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s third roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, MD TechSPARK, Director UK Tech Cluster Group
  2. Katie Gallagher, Managing Director, Manchester Digital, UKTCG Steering Board
  3. Johnathan Williamson, Director, TechnologyOne
  4. Andy Salmon, PVC, Bath Spa University
  5. Diane Milne, Senior Funding Officer, Dundee City Council
  6. Alastair Irons, Dean of Computing, University of Sunderland
  7. Ben Atha, CEO, The Developer Academy
  8. Michelle Gordon, Corporate Manager, Economy & Business, Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils
  9. Mick Westman, Founder at Digital Innovators Ltd & Vice President at the Solihull Chamber of Commerce
  10. Georgina Phillipson, Enterprise Support Coordinator, Oxford Brookes University
  11. Rob Passmore, North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

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Roundtable 2 – Building New Forms of Collaboration

Connecting start ups and large organisations is nothing new – for many years it has been recognised as something that can be a great way to drive diverse new ideas, projects and ways of thinking. But what are the key facets that make for successful collaboration?

The value of collaboration

Connecting start ups and large organisations is nothing new – for many years it has been recognised as something that can be a great way to drive diverse new ideas, projects and ways of thinking. But what are the key facets that make for successful collaboration?

One size doesn’t fit all

Building successful relationships with organisations is  not something that can be established through the same approach every time. Different organisations and start ups have varied needs, cultures and ways of working, which means successful collaboration requires a level of tailoring to achieve the best results.

Each larger organisation has its own culture, needs, and ways of doing things. And, of course, the SME community, is not a generic community. So, inevitably, you have to bespoke relationships if you want to see something that works.

Nick Sturge, MBE, Adviser – Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s second roundtable event, speakers with experience in everything from corporate transformation, to world- class accelerators and bleeding-edge start ups discuss practical ways to build systems that allow companies to work together and how COVID-19 has changed their approach.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, Managing Director TechSPARK, UKTCG Steering Board
  2. Mark John, Founder, TramShed Tech, UKTCG Steering Board
  3. Nick Gibson, Industry Director – Education, TechnologyOne
  4. David Henderson, Head of Transformation, Hargreaves Lansdown
  5. Nick Sturge, Adviser – Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council
  6. Penny Day, Innovation Specialist, Sunderland Software City
  7. Matt Cooling, Head of Innovation, Manchester Science Park

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Roundtable 1 – Building Technology Test Beds Across the UK

Testbeds have traditionally been important in driving innovation and allow for risk mitigation in developing new technologies and products. They also serve as a useful connector between corporate, public sector, university and innovative SME organisations.

However, there have been challenges with testbeds in the past. They can suffer from a lack of clear objectives, or unstable funding which can result in ‘Orphaned’ testbeds. To add value they are going to have to develop and adapt to support the tech and digital sector in facing the unique challenges presented by Brexit and COVID-19.

We want to see new, federated testbeds connected through industry verticals within a common infrastructure.

Paul Wilson, Founder, UK5G

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s first roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how giving tech businesses more opportunities to test, trial and showcase their ideas will provide a gateway to help the public and higher education sector innovate quicker.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, MD TechSPARK, Director UK Tech Cluster Group
  2. David Dunn, CEO Sunderland Software City, Chair UK Tech Cluster Group
  3. Vish Mathur, Global Head of Engagement, Telecoms Infra Project
  4. Nick Sturge MBE, Adviser to Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council
  5. Paul Willson, Co- Founder, UK5G
  6. Martin Reid, CEO, Engine Shed
  7. Anwen Robinson, TechnologyOne

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Accelerating Regional Recovery

As a collective group of individual organisations, the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) assembled over a year ago to connect, share and grow the communities we serve. While we regularly meet to discuss regional technology issues and share opportunities, the impact of COVID-19 on the UK tech sector has seen us work even more closely together. As the established voice of grassroots tech, we are prioritising efforts to accelerate the rate of regional recovery following widespread economic disruption caused by the pandemic.  

An independent voice 

The UKTCG represents geographical clusters of technology and digital businesses across the UK. Independent from government and self-financing, our member organisations include the entire spectrum of businesses that make up the UK’s tech economy – not just the big players. Despite the prominence of a few large corporations and so called “unicorns”, the UK’s tech economy is in fact largely skewed towards small businesses. This ecosystem naturally revolves around local clusters, usually with one or more universities involved as well. These regional ecosystems need to be understood and nurtured at a regional level.  

UKTCG’s member organisations are focused on the entirety of their local tech ecosystems, not just start-ups, scale-ups or specific vertical sectors. We support regional economic growth in both the tech sector and the wider economy. 

The organisations that make up the UKTCG are all firmly rooted in their communities and are uniquely placed to provide in-depth, granular local and regional intelligence in a way that is impossible (or very time consuming and expensive) to do at a national level. 

The UKTCG member organisations are all run by people who have years of experience of working within their local tech economy – we understand the economic and political landscape of our regions and in turn we are extremely well connected and are trusted as intermediaries. 

The group has grown out of a natural tendency of the existing regional cluster organisations to collaborate and share information and resources. Together, our robust and trusted network has an extensive reach across the UK which we believe can be harnessed to accelerate ecosystem recovery following the disruption caused by COVID-19.  

Regional intelligence and regional response 

Since early March the group has been gathering intelligence in our respective regions to understand how both companies and our regional ecosystems have been affected by COVID-19. As well as consulting with government on how to strategically combat sector pain points at large, we have been working at a grassroots level day in, day out to provide companies with immediate relief to individual problems.  

We are uniquely placed to best solve the challenges the sector faces at regional level, given our unrivalled local knowledge, current business support activity and connections across regional ecosystems.  

We therefore hope we can work with the government as a key delivery partner to quickly bring relief to our UK regions. Only by prioritising regional recovery will we see our much-coveted tech sector bounce back at large from the pandemic.  

The UK Tech Cluster Group is in a unique position to provide the voice of the industry at a truly national level and to advise the Government on providing the right support, at the right time to our industry to both survive and thrive moving forward.  

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How has your tech business been impacted by events in 2020?

Share your insights in the national Digital Skills Audit

The UK Tech Cluster Group is undertaking a national Digital Skills Audit in partnership with the Institute of Coding to understand the effect of the pandemic on the technology sector and employment across the regions of the UK. We are looking for businesses and employees to fill in the survey and share their insights and views. If you are an employer or work in a technology business, please help us to understand what is happening on the ground in your business and how we can support you over the next few years.

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