British universities’ business incubator rated world’s best

A group of British universities has been rated the best in the world at helping scientists turn their creativity into cash.

A group of British universities has been rated the best in the world at helping scientists turn their creativity into cash.The SETsquared Partnership – a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey – was ranked “Number One” by respected independent research group, University Business Incubators (UBI).

UBI analysed more than 1,200 incubators, based in 64 countries, measuring their performance in 60 different areas, including total investment, the number of jobs created and the number of successful firms born out of the incubator.

‘SETsquared’ came top, beating Ryerson University in Canada and the Chaoyang University of Technology, Taiwan.

Dhruv Bhatli, one of UBI’s founders, explained the centre’s success. “SETsquared is the top performing business incubator globally as it consistently outperforms on our three assessment categories; value for ecosystem, value for client and attractiveness,” he said.

That is the dry business analysis. For Bristol PhD student Tom Carter, SETsquared has turned an idea into a £10 million business in a year. Working in a university lab, Mr Carter created “feeling without touching”.

He demonstrated how to control a computer game simply by moving a hand in mid-air, the gestures controlling what happened on screen.

Mr Carter calls his device “Ultrahaptics”, a fusion of haptics – the science of touch – and ultrasound technology. An array of small ultrasound emitters are responsible for creating the feeling in the user’s fingers, linked by software to a camera which sees how the hand is moving.

The device has caught the world’s attention. Car manufacturers are developing controls that would adjust the volume of a car stereo, or the temperature of the heating, all by mid-air gestures.

Kitchen appliance firms are creating a hob with no buttons, the heat turned up simply by a wave of your hand.

But when he made his discoveries, Mr Carter was doing his PhD at Bristol University, and knew nothing about building a business.

SETsquared introduced him to lawyers, to protect and patent his invention; to accountants and HR experts to create a company; and most importantly of all, to a man who has become his business partner.

Now, Ultrahaptics chief executive, Mr Cliffe said: “The response from customers is amazing; we have a piece of technology they want. This is going to be huge.”

Interest is so strong that Ultrahaptics has recently received £10 million of investment from City backers. There are serious applications for touchless controls.

Mr Cliffe added: “The dirtiest place in a hospital are the buttons on the lift. Lift manufacturers are very interested.

“We can allow people to choose the floor they want to go to, simply by waving their hand. That way, we cut down germs and infection.”

In all, SETsquared firms have attracted £26 million of investment in the past year, creating 100 jobs. Since the centres were set up, it is estimated they have contributed £3.8 billion to the UK economy. But the impact is wider than that.

Simon Bond, SETsquared’s director of innovation, put it like this: “Bristol and Bath is a leading tech hub outside of London.

“The region has produced an incredible wealth of technology companies and products, and SETsquared is very proud to have played our part in putting it on the map as one of the most innovative areas in the UK.”

December 11, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Growth, Business Win, Digital Business, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses

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