A national university business incubator, with offices in Bristol’s Engine Shed, has been named as the best in the world after creating 9,000 new jobs and contributing £3.8 billion to the UK economy.

SETsquared, which is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, was awarded the top accolade by UBI Global today [25 November].

The University of Bristol runs the Bristol SETsquared Centre, supporting high-tech start-ups through its incubation programme and other business acceleration services. It currently supports 64 members who between them employ over 840 people globally.

Nick Sturge, director of the Bristol SETsquared Centre, said:

“This caps another fantastic year for us. It also marks our second full year in Engine Shed, in Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, and this has proved exceptionally useful.

“SETsquared in Bristol continues to evolve and we remain on the lookout for the most exciting, high-tech, high-growth startup and established businesses. This award demonstrates the holistic value that we can add to businesses, wherever they have come from and whatever the sector. Bristol is now even better placed for growth. With this award and the stronger local investment eco-system, the future is very, very bright.”

Successful companies who have been supported by the Bristol SETsquared Centre in the last year include BluWireless, Reach Robotics, Ultrahaptics, YellowDog, Neighbourly, Folium Optics, Boxarr and many others, all raising significant investment or winning awards in their own right.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, added:

“This is tremendous news for SETsquared and of course for Bristol, adding more weight to our excellent reputation as a centre for innovation and a magnet for high-tech businesses.

“When we launched Engine Shed two years ago, a pioneering partnership between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, we had a vision to create an inspiring place in the Enterprise Zone where fledgling businesses could thrive, be supported and collaborate with each other.

“SETsquared has played a huge part in making that vision a reality and this new global accolade is a fitting recognition of the quality of their support and commitment to growing businesses.”

Nationally, SETsquared has helped over 1,000 hi-tech start-ups to develop and raise more than £1 billion of investment in the past 13 years, as well as contributing over £3.8 billion in GVA (Gross Value Added) to the UK economy with £15 billion GVA estimated over the next 10 years.

The partnership currently supports 265 companies across its centres and has created over 9,000 new jobs, with an estimated 14,200 to be created by 2025.

SETsquared, which previously held the second-best spot in the global list, was ranked alongside some of the world’s best university business incubators, including the Innovation Incubation Center at Chaoyang University of Technology, Taiwan and The DMZ (Digital Media Zone) at Ryerson University, Toronto in London today.

Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, said:

“It’s an incredible achievement to be recognised as the best university incubator in the world, and we’re all absolutely ecstatic with the news. Everyone involved with SETsquared works extremely hard to fulfill our commitment to helping entrepreneurs and start-ups and the ranking is a real testament to the skill and innovation of our staff, as well as showing how vital our services are in each area we operate in.

“The UK was recently ranked as the second most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index as a result of its performance in infrastructure, market sophistication, knowledge, technology and creative outputs. At SETsquared we’re very proud to help put the UK on the map as one of the top performing countries in the world for innovation and will continue our dedication to helping grow entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to their full potential.”

The UBI Index is the first global index to benchmark the performance and best practice of university business incubators. The organisation held continental rankings around the world, culminating in the global ranking event in London today.

Dhruv Bhatli, Co-founder and Director of Research at UBI Global, said:

“We’re delighted to see SETsquared be named as the best in the world. The partnership’s continued dedication to entrepreneurs and start-ups has resulted in high economic impact and growth for the companies it supports.”