University Business Incubator SETsquared Bristol has revealed that its members raised a combined £40.2 million in 2020, contributing to more than 10 per cent of the total investment raised by the South West region for the third consecutive year in a row.
SETsquared is a long standing enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey, which specialises in growing technology start-ups through its world class business support programmes.
Despite the South West seeing a slowing down in investment due to the pandemic, more than half of its 80 members secured funding in 2020, a record figure for the University of Bristol-led tech incubator.
Other successes in 2020 saw SETsquared Bristol members create 225 new jobs in the city region, generate £32 million in turnover revenues, and achieve record numbers for leadership diversity.
SETsquared Bristol is an active supporter of making tech more inclusive. Its initiatives to give under-represented groups access to funded business support and coaching include its Breakthrough Bursary for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) startups, now in its second year, and its Enterprising Women programme, in partnership with NatWest. In 2020, women made up 45% of its member founders/CEOs, and people from a BAME background made up 23%. Investment successes in 2020 included digital eye care company, OKKO Health, who raised £1.3m from funding and a grant from Innovate UK to develop their new app which enables eye professionals to remotely monitor their patients’ eye health.
OKKO Health Co-founder and CEO, Dr Stephanie Campbell, says, “COVID-19 has made the need more urgent to bring home-monitoring technology to ophthalmology. We were delighted to secure both investment and grant funding in 2020 to develop our product, secured with the support of the SETsquared team.”
Other successes included Duel, a brand advocacy platform, which secured £1.8 million in funding to develop its brand advocacy tools, advance its patented curation AI and hire more staff. Earlier stage investment successes included GenomeKey, a research and development startup searching for faster diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, which raised £192,000 from 16 members of Bristol Private Equity Club.
Steve Edwards, Centre Director of SETsquared Bristol, said: “These fantastic results are a reminder of the strength of tech innovation in the South West, a testament to the work our members have put in to grow and a sign of the consistency of the SETsquared Bristol programme. We are also proud that we done this the right way, with our focus on inclusion paying dividends through an incredible representation of women and BAME founders.”