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SETsquared Scale-Up Programme


Impact for scaleups


GVA between 2018 - 2023

£7.5 : £1



investment secured 2018 - 2023


collaborative R&D funding


of participating scaleups collaborated with an academic from a SETsquared university

Key sectors

Impact ventures / Social Impact Life Sciences & Biotech Building & Construction Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Creative, digital, film, games & media Professional services Defence & security Technology & Communications Engineering / Advanced Engineering Transport & Logistics Environmental Science & Technology Farming, fisheries & forestry Finance Food & drink Healthcare

SETsquared is a world-leading university-business network, directly linked to the research talent and expertise of six partner universities – Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. Scaling businesses from across the UK are supported by its dedicated Scale-up programme, endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute this year as it connects scaling businesses with university research and collaborative research enhancing their scaleup journey. It was first launched in 2018 and addresses key scaling barriers, including securing public grant and private investment funding for company-led R&D and innovation; while also helping them to access its network of more than 2,000 academics to identify the right expertise to develop or validate their technology. 

The programme offers three distinct areas of support consisting of:

  • General support including innovation ‘workouts’, impact ‘workouts’, masterclasses and curated opportunities to meet investors and customers;
  • Targeted support to identify university collaborators, develop and win CR&D bids; and
  • Support to raise equity investment.

There is also a range of opportunities to access bid support which helps build compelling collaborative R&D bids alongside scaleup partner universities. Dedicated support in identifying suitable public grants and bid writing had a 36% success rate, compared to the Innovate UK average success rate of 10%.

Although Research England Connecting Capability Funding (CCF) ceased in June 2023, the programme is now evolving into a package of support, funded through thematic government funding opportunities and support is now being embedded in major regional & national collaboration research and innovation programmes. It can be accessed via an online platform, the SETsquared Innovation Platform, developed as a hub for all members to share with one another and access dedicated support through exclusive investment, funding and collaboration opportunities, events, peer-to-peer networking and sector-based programmes based on the previous format of the programme. It currently has 600 active users. 

Additional support for university spinouts was offered through its Executives into Business (EIB) programme. This included recruiting business executives to lead strong and innovative companies spinning out from SETsquared partner universities. This was delivered in partnership with the Northern Accelerator Programme, a collaboration between North East universities to commercialise research and boost the region’s economy. Ten EIBs were placed. SETsquared is utilising the knowledge developed in this intervention to increase the speed of spinouts being brought to market from the research base of the six Universities in a CCF programme called Impact IP. 

The programme’s independent evaluation report, published in September 2023, found that on leaving the programme participants report a 20% average annual growth in turnover and employment.  Programme members have secured £713 million in private investment and received £72m collaborative R&D funding. 62% of the scaling businesses collaborated with an academic from a SETsquared university. Since 2018 participants have directly contributed £57million of GVA to the UK economy – indicating a £7.5 return per £1 of CCF invested in the programme. It is estimated these companies will contribute £1.3bn GVA to the UK economy by 2030.

SETsquared Scale-Up Programme website