press release
Published: 02 November 2016

University of Surrey to lead new world-class acceleration programme for digital start-ups and SMEs

By Peter La

More than 360 high growth ‘digital’ entrepreneurs will receive backing from the European Union European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for a major new £2.4m acceleration programme announced today. The three-year programme is supported by the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and will delivered by the University of Surrey through its award-winning SETsquared Partnership and local private and public partners. 

Stylised image of someone using a virtual reality headset

The programme will be run from hubs in Basingstoke, Farnborough, Guildford and Woking and is set to attract talented tech entrepreneurs to and from the Enterprise M3 area with a portfolio of business acceleration support. This includes entrepreneurship training and access to experienced mentors, venture investors and specialist services connected to the University’s 5G Innovation Centre. 

Geoff French CBE, Chairman of the Board, Enterprise M3 LEP, said: “Our area is one of the most productive and fastest growing digital economies in the UK and this incubation programme is another step forward in establishing a world-class level of business support that helps our entrepreneurs to flourish and succeed in creating great new British businesses. Our long-standing partnership with the University of Surrey and SETsquared has already had excellent results and we look forward to building on these in line with our vision for the future of the Enterprise M3 area.” 

Keith Robson, Chief Operating Officer 5G Innovation Centre, Director of Business Engagement University of Surrey and of the SETsquared Management Board, said: “The University of Surrey is at the heart of the Enterprise M3 area and its plans for economic growth. I’m delighted to see the launch of this programme which will support and fund further collaboration between the University and entrepreneurs in the digital sector where we have authentic world-class strengths. Our SETsquared Partnership, with its unbeatable track-record for accelerating tech start-up businesses, will be a critical factor in the success of this programme.” 

SETsquared, the global number one university business incubator and enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, already operates in the Enterprise M3 area in Basingstoke and Guildford. SETsquared will now expand to Woking, through its partnership with Tannery Studios Innovation Centre for Creative Industries, and to Farnborough later this year.

Simon Bond, Innovation Director at SETsquared, said: “This partnership is vitally important for linking up the incredible research that’s being done in the area, with facilities such as the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre, and early stage companies. The additional growth hubs will deliver a very real impact to the EM3 area, which is already becoming a leading hub of digital research and innovation in the UK. 

“We’re proud to have played our part in this exciting new collaboration. Our innovation hub in Basingstoke opened at the end of 2014 and has already seen investment success for the companies. It is fast becoming apparent that to be a part of the digital economy, you definitely need to be based in this area.” 

The digital acceleration programme will be announced at the Enterprise M3 Annual Conference on 16 November at the Norton Park Hotel near Winchester. 

Entrepreneurs and digital SMEs interested applying to join or finding out more about the programme should register their interest with SETsquared


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