Breaking Through Barriers

Virtual Incubator Tour of I.A.N. Member Bristol SETSquared  

Brunel entrepreneurially blasted past the barriers of Victorian society by creating things never seen before. Now the Brunel-designed Engine Shed houses I.A.N. member SETSquared  Bristol, who are helping entrepreneurs in the west break down barriers of our time.

I.A.N. led a virtual tour of the incubator this March hosted by SETSquared  Bristol’s manager Monika Radclyffe. Via the magic of video conferencing our members from as far as Loughborough or Teeside were able to see the inside of the Bristol Incubator from the comfort of their very own offices.

As well as a tour Monika gave a special talk followed by Q&A on how her incubator had significantly increased the number of their female founders and are working to do the same for the ethnic diversity of their intake.

Bristol SETSquared Vital Statistics:

  • Over 80 active members
  • SETSquared  Bristol members collectively raised over £82 million in 2018
  • Our members’ companies achieved turnover revenues of over £43.5 million in 2018
  • Put together our member companies currently employ over 1,100 people
  • 9000 square feet
  • Sector diversity is another strong point for the incubator, with members spanning 23 industry types, from aerospace to agriculture.
  • Total companies applied: 475
  • Total companies supported: 200+
  • The percentage of female Founders/CEOs has risen to 23%, compared to 15% the year before. Currently 14% of Founders/CEOs are BAME. SETSquared  is striving to improve its member’s representation and access to business support.

What are you proudest of in the last year?

We’ve just launched our breakthrough bursary which is fully funded by our alumni. It’s to fund tech entrepreneurs from BAME backgrounds. It’ll fund up to 75% of the cost. We decided against making it entirely free because we found in the past people can take it for  granted if they don’t pay anything. The remaining 25% is just £50 so is pretty affordable.

Another thing that we’re proud about is that we’ve delivered two cohorts of the Oracle cloud accelerator in the past year. The fact they chose us in Bristol, not London, for their first UK outpost makes us proud.

What’ve the biggest challenges been in the past year?

Two years ago I’d have said lack of office space, but in the past year three new buildings have launched in Bristol as coworking spaces. This has been good in the sense that we’ve been able to help incubate more businesses than we could before. It also means the whole start-up scene has been more distributed. The challenge is how do we keep the feeling of a community for our start-ups when they might be scattered across all these different offices?

What’s your top-tip for other incubator and accelerator managers?

Always ask for feedback all the time. We ask our businesses frequently as we feel that unless we know where they are at we can’t do our best for them.

To gain exclusive access to recordings of these virtual incubator tours and special talks on topics relating to incubation and acceleration join The Incubator & Accelerator network here.