SETsquared secures £2 million funding to grow South West businesses


SETsquared, the business incubator for Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey universities, has secured an additional £2 million of funding from Innovate UK to run a second phase of the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA) scheme. UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) will once again support the roll-out of RAIA alongside SETsquared, through a programme of investor capacity building and education.

The scheme exists to provide grant funding alongside angel-led capital; to attract new Angel investors and increase diversity in the early-stage investment community and  to encourage Angels to back disruptive technology businesses which are typically seen as riskier prospects.

The partnership initially secured £1million in 2019 as part of the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA) pilot programme. The pilot scheme supported nine businesses across the South, South West and South Wales – SpaceForge, Okko Health, Anaphite, Ceryx Medical, Goal Shaper, NuNano, Kaydiar, Think Cyber and Kelpi all of which are members of SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme – to secure £820k of Innovate UK grant funding which leveraged over £2m Angel equity investment.

Bath-based Kelpi, which is on a mission is to replace single-use plastics with compostable bioplastic made from seaweed, were awarded a grant alongside investment from Bristol Private Equity Club’s new Seed division.

Neil Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Kelpi says: “This landmark investment will enable Kelpi to advance its work as one of just a handful of companies worldwide using seaweed to create entirely new bioplastic packaging solutions. We set out to play a part in eliminating plastic pollution and enabling net zero. This funding will allow us to accelerate progress towards achieving that goal.”

Bruce Colley, Access to Finance Manager, Innovate UK, said: “The RAIA scheme enables us to distribute funds directly to where they are needed within UK tech clusters whilst also generating additional private investment from Angel investment communities. The figures speak for themselves – SETsquared and UKBAA – successfully proved through the pilot that not only did they have a pipeline of highly innovative companies that benefitted from the scheme but could also attract new Angel investment communities to the opportunity of investing in early-stage, deep-tech start-ups. We were, therefore, more than happy to provide additional funding to the scheme so that further early-stage business can benefit from this transformative funding.”

The RAIA scheme has not only built investment capacity within the existing Angel networks but also brought in new Angels to invest in companies on the cutting-edge of innovation.

Rosie Bennett, Investment Manager, SETsquared says; “I’m thrilled to be able to announce that we now have 15 Angel syndicates in our RAIA consortium including investors with both a regional interest such as Bristol Private Equity Club, and QantX, sector and mission-led investors like Zero Carbon Capital, Britbots and Science Angel Syndicate, and syndicates with a specific mandate to invest in diverse founders like Cornerstone Ventures. It’s great that – as a consortium – we can continue to build on the momentum and success of this pivotal programme with further funding from Innovate UK.”

Jenny Tooth OBE, Chief Executive Officer, UKBAA said: “The RAIA scheme has enabled us to attract many new Angels into the investment community. We know that having more active female investors and those from other underrepresented groups will increase investment in a wider, more diverse range of founders. So, this is a fantastic outcome and one that will have a long-standing legacy. In this second phase of RAIA we will build on this and continue educate and inform Angels of the unique benefits of investing in in earlier stage, disruptive deep tech businesses.”

This scheme is one of three to share an additional £6m of grant funding from Innovate UK, alongside Northstar Ventures and Northern Angel Hub.