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Setsquared Programme

SETsquared, the global no. 1 university business incubator operates programmes at two prime locations on either side of Exeter: the University of Exeter Innovation Centre on the Streatham campus and the Exeter Science Park Centre at Exeter Science Park, providing 3,440m2 and 1,750m2 respectively of office and laboratory space.

These Centres provide an outstanding environment and a wealth of facilities and services, including a conference centre and café and access to leading edge knowledge and expertise. There is a diverse group of clients – from the public and private sectors, from start-up to mature companies – benefiting from flexible packages across offices and laboratories, hot desks and virtual services.

SETsquared supports high-tech start-up companies, providing student enterprise and enabling academics to maximise the impact of their research.

In all of the facilities, dedicated business and technology support staff are available, providing business acceleration services to clients at all stages of development.  Clients can also access Experts in Residence, business mentors, networks and a range of events, workshops and seminars.

The Innovation and Science Park Centres are the gateway to the University’s services and facilities for business. Last year, more than 500 projects were undertaken with business and £5.6m was generated by the University through its work with industry. More than 100 members of academic and technical staff have worked with a commercial partner during the past three years.

  • Digital Tech Case Study: ModMyPi

    Sound advice for a successful business case

    When Raspberry Pi launched a low-end micro-computer aimed at encouraging programming, University of Exeter student Jacob Marsh saw an opportunity. One of the first in line to buy the much-anticipated micro-computer, Jacob set out to design a case to house the computer.

    Launching his business ModMyPi with a simple website in 2012, Jacob soon realised the potential of his product after receiving more than 300 orders in the first few days. Jacob turned to start-up support incubator SETsquared for business support.

    Jacob Marsh ModMiPi 1 website

    Innovative mentoring

    With no background in business, Jacob’s plan was to create the cases with a 3D printer, but it soon became apparent that this route of manufacturing would not meet demand. “When I realised the extent of the orders, I was unsure how to manufacture the product, so I went to SETsquared at the Exeter Innovation Centre and asked for their advice,” explained Jacob.

    “SETsquared put me in touch with the right contacts for advice and I was quickly able to access the suppliers I needed to fulfil my orders. Joe Pearce at SETsquared has been an invaluable mentor and provided proactive advice on how to grow my business.

    “The team set me up with an office, provided grants to develop additional products and has acted as a catalyst for my business success,” added Jacob.

    Jacob was announced as one of the Top 50 entrepreneurs by SETsquared, honoured at an event at the House of Commons alongside eight other innovative businesses based in Exeter.

    City of digital success

    “The continued success of the technology sector in Exeter is heavily influenced by the support services in place. Helping shape and encourage these young start-ups just when they need it most, is vital to create these exciting tech firms of tomorrow,” said Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter.

    “Many entrepreneurs have a great idea and are experts in a particular field, but require the general business knowledge to turn that idea into reality, which is where SETsquared can help with a broad range of services,” added Joe.

    SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.

    For more information:
  • Digital Health Technology Case Study: BioSystems Technology

    Exeter start-up creates ethical alternative for disease and drug testing

    Ethical alternatives to animal testing is being driven by technology, with Exeter firm BioSystems Technology leading the way in providing a more reliable and humane technique.

    Global testing on animals is estimated to be as high as 115 million globally every year. Yet tighter regulations and rising costs have increased the pressure on the industry to find a more humane alternative. Dr Olivia Champion, CEO of BioSystems Technology, has developed research-grade larvae, which can act as a substitute for testing diseases, poisons and new drugs.

    Getting the right support for growth

    A spin out of University of Exeter, BioSystems Technology was supported by SETsquared, a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.

    The ground-breaking nature of BioSystems Technology and work done by Dr Champion was acknowledged in March when she was named one of the ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ at an event in the House of Commons. Dr Champion was one of eight entrepreneurs based in Exeter who honoured business for innovation, growth and accessing global markets by SETsquared.

    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “This is a great example of the pioneering thinking coming out of the university environment that incubators like SETsquared has supported to become a reality.

    “Exeter is a hub of technology and health companies and it is exciting to see new approaches to age-old concerns be challenged with technology. BioSystems Technology has presented a new way of undertaking testing that enhances the reliability and reputation of the digital health technology sector.”

    Technological advancement to enhance safety testing

    BioSystems Technology’s product TruLarv is a specially-bred moth larvae, which could reduce the use of mammals by as high as 90 per cent. Dr Champion explains that although larvae’s potential as an alternative was known, there were obstacles in availability and quality.
    “TruLarv is standardised, decontaminated larvae that is a cost-effective substitute for testing diseases and new drugs. This method produces robust data and is straightforward and quicker than using mammals.

    “Based in Exeter we are surrounded by a wealth of support that has enabled us to quickly launch our business and facilitate access to international markets, selling to the UK, as well as the EU and US,” added Dr Champion.

    For more information:

    BioSystems Technology


  • Digital Tech Case Study: Seedata

    SETsquared sees the potential in Exeter software firm

    Bespoke mobile and web software firm, Seedata has experienced great success since it was founded in 2010. Starting as a digital web agency, Seedata utilised col

    ExeSciencePark SeeData -1

    laborations to expand operations and focus more on innovative products.

    Regional opportunities

    Partnerships have been a key business success factor for Seedata. Managing Director, John James, explained: "Links and collaborations with regional partners are important to us and have formed the basis of some of our greatest innovations."

    The firm worked with South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) to create a quality improvement platform for health and social care (Life QI), which is now active in 25 countries, its fastest growing user bases in the UK, USA and New Zealand. 

    Working with the university, as part of their connection with SETsquared, Seedata is working on innovative text analytics looking at patient experience and student writing styles, with a goal to enhance scalable data analysis.

    Adding to its accolades, managing director John James has been listed as one of the ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ by SETsquared at an event held at the House of Commons.

    A partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, SETsquared aims to provide a range of support services for aspiring tech start-ups. Being part of the SETsquared programme has enabled Seedata to access the contacts and advice needed to maximise opportunities in industry and working alongside the university.

    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “Seedata is actively working alongside the university and businesses to bring innovations to market through their world class software. The business is a real success story for Exeter and has utilised local connections to build business opportunities, growing their business into an identified gap in the market.”

    Exeter sees growth in tech

    Exeter has become a hive of tech-related businesses, attracting some innovative firms across a variety of industries. Sharing of knowledge, support from incubators like SETsquared, modern office space, and transportation links are increasing the desirability of the city.

    When expanding and looking for new offices, Seedata chose to stay within the city and moved to the Exeter Science Park for its excellent transport links. John added: “Because our clients are based all over the world, one of the most important business considerations for us is our location.

    “We spend a lot of time travelling to meetings, so being based at the Science Park right next to the M5 and Exeter airport is fantastic. As a young and progressive company, being part of the fast-paced environment at the Science Park is perfect for us. We have been through a busy period and are looking to grow even more, so being surrounded by like-minded people gives us the opportunity to network and benefit from other companies' expertise.”

    For more information:


  • Digital Tech Case Study: Crowdcube

    Becoming a financial institution in the digital age

    For many businesses, crowdfunding is seen as the investment platform of the digital age. Pioneered by Luke Lang and Darren Westlake who created the world’s first investment crowdfunding platform in 2011, Crowdcube has gone on to help more than 500 businesses raise finance and has over 400,000 members, who have invested over £245m.

    Crowdcube website

    The Exeter firm has big ambitions, with additional offices in London and Manchester and has expanded into the European market. With offices already in Spain, Crowdcube has secured a partnership with co-working space firm WeWork to open offices in France and the Netherlands. 

    Flexible digital location 

    With a business model based on a digital platform, Luke and Darren had the freedom to be located where they desired and chose Exeter for its work and lifestyle balance. Luke Lang, co-founder and CMO of Crowdcube, said: “The decision to base Crowdcube in Exeter was driven by the culture and environment we wanted to create at the company. 

    “The city’s close proximity to outstanding countryside and the coast provides our employees with an unrivalled work-life balance, which has, in turn, had a positive impact on our team’s creativity and morale.”

    The Crowdcube success story is typical of the fast-growing tech sector in the city. Exeter is attracting established tech firms, as well as seeing an increasing number of tech start-ups. Supported by an array of business support services, such as SETsquared, more businesses are flourishing.
    Eight Exeter entrepreneurs have been honoured at a House of Commons event that celebrated the ‘Top 50 entrepreneurs’. The founders of Crowdcube were both selected from a list of over 1,000, by SETsquared, a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.
    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “Exeter has a great network of business support services, such as SETsquared, that have been set up to bolster the tech sector. Crowdcube is an excellent role model for start-ups; two people, who had a great idea, utilised the latest in technology and are delivering a solution that benefits the masses.”

    Digitalising funding

    Crowdcube is the world’s leading crowdfunding platform. It provides access for everyday investors to back inspiring and ambitious businesses alongside professional investors, angels, and some of Europe’s leading venture capital firms. By accessing a diverse investor community, businesses are able to pitch for investment by setting out their vision and ambitions for the company and inviting investors to be part of their story and share in their future success. 

    Crowdcube has identified and captured a desire to invest in unique and interesting businesses. With growth plans overseas, its roots are firmly located in Exeter where Crowdcube has added to the local economy taking staff from the University of Exeter and attracting leading talent from further afield.

    For more information:
  • Digital Health Technology Case Study: Milkalyser

    Agricultural Engineering firm addresses fertility crisis

    eCow Ltd develop innovative equipment that monitors the health and productivity of dairy cows. From eCow came Milkalyser, a new way to detect the early stages of oestrus (sexual receptivity) in dairy cows.
    The inability of high-yielding dairy cows to conceive can cause a severe decrease in milk production. Unfortunately, this can also result in healthy, fertile animals being culled because their failure to conceive is being mistaken for infertility. UK cattle pregnancy rates are on average around 40-42% compared to 55% in the early 1980s. However, 97% of cows have healthy functioning ovaries and Milkalyser detects this directly.

    Revolutionising Progesterone Analysis

    Milkalyser is an automated system which measures the fall of progesterone levels that occurs before oestrus (the change in behaviour which usually precedes ovulation). Consequently, ovulation can be predicted allowing for optimal timing of insemination.
    Pedometers and collars have been relied on in the past; both of which are considered unreliable for effectively detecting ovulation. The results from each method can contradict each other. Milkalyser works differently by using electrochemical biosensors to test the milk. Afterwards, the data is transmitted to a microcomputer, which then converts the data into a readable format.
    Benefits of this innovation include improved submission rates, higher conception rate, early detection of pregnancy, fewer culls and fewer replacement animals. A typical farm could benefit by a net value of £150 per cow.

    Local Support

    SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, which supports STEM related start-ups. The Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter provides a place for SETsquared projects such as Milkalyser to grow as an enterprise. With the support of SETsquared, eCow raised £1m to develop their dairy cow management goals.
    With the help of SETsquared, Milkalyser recently secured £500,000 funding from Mercia Fund Management, an early stage technology investor and has leveraged another £500,000 grant from Innovate UK. The goal is to develop a data driven platform for farmers worldwide to maximise yields and profit.
    Pioneer of Milkalyser, Toby Mottram was praised by SETsquared as ‘One to Watch’ in their recent celebration of the top 50 entrepreneurs from the business incubator.
    Toby said: "The support of SETsquared Exeter has been invaluable in getting the company to where it is today and has allowed us to present ourselves more professionally, which has led us to an SEIS/EIS investment and more recently, funding courtesy of Mercia.
    “The company has ambitious plans for the future to develop and refine our equipment and ensure more efficient and accurate progesterone analysis.”
    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “Milkalyser is a fine example of how business incubators such as SETsquared can support companies and allow them to grow, develop and to thrive.
    “Exeter is fast becoming a real hub of technology and health related companies and we believe that supporting innovative companies like these will help to improve Exeter’s economy dramatically.”
    For more information:
     Toby Mottram
  • Digital Tech Case Study: Theta Technologies

    Cracking the problem of flaws in engineering components

    Unique technology by Theta Technologies detects flaws in engineering components enabling an early warning of material degradation to such a detailed level, it is unmatched by any other forms of testing. The ultrasonic technology was developed by Dr Peter Armitage during his PhD at the University of Exeter.

    Based at the Innovation Centre at the university, Theta Technologies has utilised academic research, facilities and recruitment opportunities to develop and bring to market its patented engineering solution.

    Theta Technologies website

    Engineered success

    Theta develops and implements techniques for identifying and classifying the level of defect in components earlier than any other available technology. This is particularly important for high-value or safety critical components such as those used in aerospace or defence applications, or where the reliability of parts is paramount.

    The Exeter firm identifies degradation for a range of engineering parts used on aircraft, cars, nuclear plants, buildings, submarines and oil rigs, etc. Chairman Iain Fairbairn, said: “We work closely with customers to develop a bespoke solution that fits their needs.

    “We spent a great deal of time focusing on developing the quality of the products, before we looked to commercialise the technology and now are in an exciting place. Being based within the university grounds at the Innovation Centre has helped push our development forward, providing access to machines for testing, as well as securing contacts to support the business goals.”

    Flawless future

    Iain Fairbairn was highlighted as one of the ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ by SETsquared in an event held in the House of Commons. Iain was selected from a list of over 1,000, by SETsquared, a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.

    Eight other Exeter-based tech firms were also highlighted in the ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ showcasing the city’s blooming tech sector. Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “Theta Technologies has been a long-standing resident at the Innovation Centre and SETsquared has provided a range of support, including mentoring, networking and placements.

    “The technology sector in Exeter is truly diverse and Theta Technologies is yet another example of its diversity; an engineering focused firm that utilises technology to safeguard the operational ability of key components in sectors from aviation to energy.”

    For more information:
  • Digital Tech Case Study: Simpleware

    Complexity converted to simple models by Exeter firm

    Equipping companies with the tools to visualise data and create 3D images was the brainchild of Professor Philippe Young. Based at the University of Exeter, Professor Young was conducting a research project when he had the idea for Simpleware.

    3D image visualisation

    Simpleware’s software converts complex data from scans, enabling firms to process 3D image data, analyse and export models for testing. This insight means processes can be thoroughly understood and supports the creation of more efficient products and services.

    For the medical sector, the company developed a breakthrough in creating complex structures from scans, such as MRI and CT scans.

    Simpleware grew to an international company, and in 2016 was acquired by Synopsys, Inc., one of the largest software companies in the world. Yet the 3D image and data visualisation software firm continues to be based in Exeter and is part of a growing digital tech hub that is based in the city.

    Global reach from the South West

    With 30 staff based mainly in Exeter and across offices in the US and India, Simpleware has been able to expand its offering, serving the medical, automotive, aerospace, and oil & gas sectors.

    Professor Philippe Young said: “Part of the reason behind the successful development of the company has been thanks to the attractive work-life balance the Exeter area offers, which has allowed us to retain a large proportion of our workforce. The University’s research facilities and the high-calibre professionals it produces have also been a huge driving factor.”

    Exeter has benefited from a host of successful tech firms: eight of these were honoured as SETsquared named their ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ at an event held at the House of Commons. 

    Professor Young was recognised as one of the outstanding entrepreneurs, selected from a list of over a thousand. SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.

    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “Philippe Young’s story is indicative of the culture of the university and Exeter. SETsquared’s goal is to harness talent and enable it to grow.

    “The acquisition by American firm Synopsys showcases the value of a good idea. The challenge is always how to turn that idea into reality and that is what we and many of the incubators in Exeter are here to support.”
    For more information:
    Simpleware and Synopsys delegation website
  • Counterfeit Case Study: Custodian Solutions

    Custodian Solutions Counter-attack Counterfeit Crimes

    Custodian Solutions is an award-winning software company which has created a cloud-based, anti-counterfeiting platform with advanced brand protection. The technology is used to investigate and gather evidence to litigate fraudsters, solving intractable anti-counterfeiting and brand protection problems.  

    Counterfeit products are estimated to cost the nation at least £1.3 billion per year in lost profits and taxes which can have a damaging effect on businesses. Consumers are also at risk and medicine in particular is a real concern; there are more than 170,000 deaths each year due to counterfeit medicine.

    Providing solutions

    Custodian Solutions provides customisable dashboards for large enterprises to manage essential areas, including investigation, evidence, campaigns and law. Each dashboard displays actionable data that is easily accessible but highly secure. The technology identifies products and customers who are at risk. 

    Using investigative techniques, data analysis and technological solutions, the team deliver effectiveness, strategic value and return on investment.

    Global success

    Custodian Solutions have been highly commended in the past, acquiring the Exeter Business Award for Digital Business of the Year and the Exeter Living Award for Technology and Innovation in 2017. In 2016, the start-up won the first ever Global Anti-Counterfeiting Technology of the Year Award. These awards recognise the creativity and innovation of companies who specialise in STEM related projects. 

    Joel Stobart, Chief Technology Officer at Custodian Solutions said: “Naturally, we are honoured to receive such acclaim! This just goes to show that companies are beginning to realise how important brand management is. In the future, we are hoping to work with Trading Standards to further protect consumers from counterfeit crime”.

    Exeter’s business support

    SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, which supports local start-ups. The SETsquared Exeter, Business Support team provides practical support for companies like Custodian Solutions to progress. 

    Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at Exeter’s SETsquared centre, said: “Custodian Solutions have tapped into a niche market that’s growing in demand. Their work benefits not only businesses but the general public as well”. 

    According to Tech Nation 2017, 98% of local start-ups say that their quality of life in Exeter is good. Joel Stobart continued: “Exeter provides an ideal work-life balance. STEM businesses thrive here. I strive to create a positive working environment but I leave the rest to Exeter. For me, there’s nothing better than walking home from work alongside the river”.

    For more information:

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Registered address: Science Park Centre, 6 Babbage Way, Exeter, EX5 2FN

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