Marty Reid reveals how SETsquared has built an innovation cluster across six universities and becoming a leader in sectors like quantum.

cover art for Beyond the Breakthrough episode 106 with Marty Reid

SETsquared has achieved something few have: it’s built an ecosystem that spans six institutions across England and Wales and a programme that provides end-to-end support to founders both within and without the universities.

Banding together means the six universities don’t just rival their peers in London, Oxford or Cambridge (portfolio companies have raised some £4bn to date), but in some areas are setting the pace: Bristol, for example, is responsible for a third of all quantum computing companies in the UK.

Marty Reid, interim executive director of SETsquared, sees potential in sectors that may be less obvious too, such as creative industries. Indeed, he argues, technologies like immersive gaming could have far-reaching applications — even in sectors like healthcare.

But SETsquared doesn’t just want to be for founders: it recently won a £1.5m award from Research England to transform and enable tech transfer at its member institutions, helping them to engage investors earlier and forge more fruitful relationships.

And those investors can know that they’ll get an incredibly diverse offering: some of SETsquared’s members have already reached near-parity of funding going into women-founded startups and the rest is catching up fast. Reid has immediate, tangible advice for any tech transfer office looking to do the same.

SETsquared’s conference, Investment Futures 24, is happening on November 28 in Shoreditch, London. You can register here.


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Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).