The world-leading business incubator and start-up accelerator network, SETsquared Partnership, has announced it raised record levels of investment in 2018 – a 34 per cent increase on its 2017 levels.

The figure, which reached almost £300 million and continues the Partnership’s five-year upward investment trajectory, has bucked the national trend which recently showed early-stage investment in UK start-ups hit a four year low in 2018.

The announcement was made at SETsquared’s second annual Scale-Up Investor Business breakfast, hosted in partnership with KPMG, which saw five budding scale-up businesses pitch to a room full of active investors. The news comes on the back of a successful year for the SETsquared Partnership, which also saw it ranked as the global number one university-backed business incubator for the second year in a row.

Speaking from the event at KPMG’s Mayfair office, Karen Brooks, Programme Director at SETsquared, said, “We know that investors are increasingly looking for innovative, IP-led businesses with tangible assets, which is what SETsquared businesses have at their core. We are also bucking the national trend because our members sit within the knowledge economy and are creating higher value for the UK. This is vital for the future growth of this country and we urge investors to continue supporting UK SMEs.”

The five scale-up companies pitching for investment were medical device companies, Bioinduction and Docobo; Zeetta Networks, which is addressing the needs of network operators; metal composite and additive manufacturer, TISICS; and the revolutionary commercial cleaning business, Steam-e.

Also speaking at the event, Kay Drury, Partner, Transaction Services at KPMG, added: “One of the main themes to come from our conversations with scale-up businesses is that it is difficult to find early-stage investment that will take their organisation to the next level. Whilst this is reaffirmed by an overall decline in early-stage investments in the UK, British businesses still raised an impressive £7.7 billion in 2018 – 1.5 times that of German and 2.6 times that of French businesses. Brexit might be just round the corner, but I’d urge investors not to hop across the channel just yet; the UK is still a good place to do business!”

In response to increasing demand from SETsquared members for private investment and grant funding, the Partnership also used the event to soft-launch a new investment platform, a ‘shop window’ for investors looking to access high-tech, high-growth investment opportunities from across the SETsquared portfolio.

There are currently 10 investment opportunities live on the platform, which has been developed by Envestors, the Fintech company that connects investors and scale-up companies.

The SETsquared Investment Programme, which runs throughout all of SETsquared support programmes, helps introduce businesses with investors at every stage of their growth and to become ‘investment ready.’

Since SETsquared’s last Scale-Up Investor Business Breakfast event in October 2018, more than £7 million worth of investment has or is due to close this month, with £45 million in progress since the scale-up programme launched in April 2018.

Geraint Evans