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University of Surrey - SETsquared



Type of Project


SETsquared is located within the 74,000 sq ft Surrey Technology Centre, a development built in 1986 for the purpose of business incubation.


The Surrey Technology Centre is on the Surrey Research Park in Guildford. The Surrey Technology Centre provides space for technology, science and health companies (research, development and design). The Research Park is owned and managed by the University of Surrey. There are over 140 companies hosted on the 70-acre (28.5 ha) Park. The companies engage in science, engineering and technology-based activities.



Start/End Dates


SETsquared Surrey has been in Surrey Technology Centre since 2006. Prior to that the incubation activities took place elsewhere in another building on The Surrey Research Park.


Case Study tags: university of surrey, business start-up, learning spaces, south-east england, business and community engagement (bce), refurbishmenthigher education




Malcolm Parry, Managing Director of Surrey Research Park was a major driving force behind the enterprise activity.


It was a collaborative bid to support spin outs/local enterprise.


SETsquared Surrey was the first centre to be opened within the SETsquared partnership. As a result of the success of the Surrey centre the other three centres were opened. All of the centres are known as Business Acceleration Centres and are all unique but with the same underlying offer of business support.

SETsquared sits within a wider Enterprise community at the University of Surrey. The University is very serious about Enterprise activity. It has a wide and diverse platform of interests and networks within the Enterprise area, in addition to SETsquared, for instance;


  • The University of Surrey 100 Club, which leverages the University's wealth of resource and its contacts in the local entrepreneurial and investment community, to provide the foundations for venture creation in order to enable members to '...take an active role in tomorrow's success stories'. The community includes local business leaders, current students, Surrey's global alumni and 80+ businesses within the Surrey Technology Centre

  • Entrepreneur in Residence. Ben Partridge is the entrepreneur in residence for SETsquared and his remit is to work with SETsquared companies and facilitate their growth into SMEs

  • MSc in Entrepreneurship

  • Student Enterprise and Entrepreneurship - this page provides summary information on the Enterprise activities available to students at Surrey



What is it?


SETsquared is a business acceleration centre, helping technology-based ventures from initial idea to commercialisation providing business support and low cost office space and through direct links to the research strengths of four of the UK's leading universities and a network of experienced entrepreneurs, technology specialists, investors and business professionals. SETsquared has directly supported over 200 companies, helping them raise over £130m of start-up funding and creating 1,000 new jobs.


What happens in the space?


Business incubation. SETsquared supports high-growth, technology start-ups.

The SETsquared Business Support Methodology provides low cost serviced office space; professional mentoring, regular update meetings and quarterly reviews on progress. Investor readiness training is provided and an annual high-profile Investor Event takes place in London. Other support includes; training in writing of Business Plans; links to Funding (VC/Angel/Grants/Loans); affiliations with Accountants/Solicitors/Patent Attorneys; seminars/clinics and access to the host University for research/knowledge transfer partnerships/student placements.



SETsquared membership


There are 3 types of SETsquared Memberships at Surrey (prices correct

as at 2010):

  • Full - providing a desk and full business support at £150/month


  • Virtual - no desk but full business support at £80 per month

  • Incubator - providing a desk at £300 per month plus full business support (incubator level companies have completed 18 months as a 'resident or virtual' member or joined at that level. Funding/organic growth has occurred, hence the increase in price). When a company reaches 3 or 4 employees then an incubator is not cost effective. A commercial move within the Surrey Technology Centre is then viable and business support continues.




Funding Sources


Funding for the space has come from a variety of sources including -

  • Higher Education Initiative Fund (HEIF)
  • University of Surrey support

Investment for SETsquared companies has come from a variety of sources including -

  • Angel/High Net Worth Individual Funding - Surrey 100 Club is the University of Surrey's Angel Club, the Club was formed in 2007. Provides opportunity for investment and active mentoring

  • High Net Worth Individual (HNWI)/Venture Capital

  • SETsquared Annual Showcase Event. Investor Event at the Institute of Civil Engineers, a unique event, now in its 7th year

  • Over £12 million has been raised over two years from grants/angels/venture capital


Research & Development grants -


The companies have attracted over £120 million in funding and helped create over 1000 jobs.


All proceeds are invested back into the University of Surrey.


Cost of project


Original funding was £1.5 million in 2002.




What technology is being used and how is it being used?


  • High speed broadband wireless.

  • Meeting room booking system - Steelcase Room Wizard

  • Website and extranet


How does the technology add value?


It provides:

  • Time savings

  • Information for billing

  • Easily accessible information on availability of rooms

  • Telephone minding service via switchboard at Reception (this provides an additional layer of professionalism and creates an excellent impression for external callers)


It helps with communication across the incubation space and the whole Research Park.


Success Factors


What makes the space successful?


SETsquared provides a 'pipeline' of business to the Surrey Technology Centre which, in turn, provides a 'pipeline' of businesses to the Research Park/Guildford/Surrey area - creating wealth in the wider area.


Surrey has incubated over 80 start ups, 70 of which continue to trade. Over 150 jobs have been created as a result.

Attention to detail and value added professional customer service, for instance, Reception Staff who look after the switchboard at the Surrey Technology Centre answer incoming telephone calls to each individual company with that company's name, providing an extra layer of professionalism and customer service.


The monthly update meetings with each company take the form of, 'what are you doing?'; 'what are you working towards?'; 'how can we help?' Various networking opportunities (with high profile organisations) are available to companies working within the Centre.


Facilities available in Space


24-hour access to the building available 7 days a week. A full Reception facility is provided Monday-Friday until 5.30 pm after which Security staff take over.


Private and Visitor Parking is available to tenants.


Use of broadband enabled meeting and conference room is available at preferential rates.


The popular Caper and Berry Café is situated within the Surrey Technology Centre. The Café offers a more informal space for one-to-one meetings, lunches and coffee breaks. The Café can also provide hospitality for meetings elsewhere in the building.




Business Support is provided in a number of ways including via affiliates (patent attorneys/solicitors/accountants/insurers, etc). SETsquared can provide all levels of advice and support for any business need. It's a 'can do', problem solving approach.


Excellent networking opportunities are available to ventures within the Centre and within the Surrey Technology Centre as a whole.


SET squared provides links to the University for student placements/knowledge transfer partnerships/research/library/funding.


Quarterly University Angel Club (Surrey 100) - attracting HNWI who wish to invest and mentor start up ventures.

Yearly investor readiness course to prepare ventures for Venture Capital Funding.


Flexible Use of Space


The building is designed so that it is easy to reconfigure the internal space. For instance, wet labs can be established if necessary; walls can be moved, taken down etc. This flexibility means that companies can grow within the space - and if they become smaller this can also be accommodated.


There is a grow-on incubator facility providing a bridge between the early stage development of an enterprise and the commitment to taking on a lease (30 day notice). Staff at SETsquared are keen to emphasise that it is not just about cheap office space; it's about the activities and ethos of the space too.


Meeting spaces are also available and all companies have their name displayed on the main signage at the front of the building.




SETsquared provides a mentor network made up of a sizeable pool of local entrepreneurs who, they'll freely admit, love the buzz of starting up a company. The mentors include, but are not restricted to, industry experts, serial entrepreneurs, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Finance Officers and Chief Technology Officers. Staff at SETsquared believe that it is important to match personality as well as skills with regard to assigning and establishing successful mentor-mentee relationships.


SETsquared very much encourages the nurturing of a positive relationship between the venture and the individual mentor. The mentors can join a client company or 'venture' and become CEO/Non-Executives/Commercial Directors, etc.


39 companies have engaged with mentors and 10 of the mentors have joined or invested in individual companies.

Each company undergoes regular quality reviews and the panel for this process always includes a mentor who is not associated with the company. The panel meeting considers strategic issues relating to the company and tends to take somewhere in the region of an hour to an hour and a half.


Cross Partner Activity within SETsquared


There are occasions where companies within one SETsquared location are actually better off strategically moving elsewhere within the partnership, an example of this cross-partner activity is a wave technology company in Guildford, originally a member of SETsquared Surrey, transferred to Southampton




SETsquared Surrey, like its partners in Bath, Bristol and Southampton, has affiliates working with companies within the Acceleration Centre. These affiliates include patent attorneys, accountants etc, and they are able to provide services at smaller rates to companies within SETsquared. They are also available to give seminars and workshops on areas such as Intellectual Property Rights and other legal advice, marketing tips, etc.


Business plan training is provided in collaboration with London Business School this involves a half day at the British Library followed by a one to one with a consultant.


There is also in-house University expertise and resource available, including in research, knowledge transfer partnerships, and allocation of student placements.


Annual Showcase event selection process.


Investor ready testing- 4 workshops held each summer on how to pitch ideas. The workshops are run by Surrey/Southampton and Bristol/Bath.


The selection panel for the Annual Showcase event is made up of technology transfer and external people. They decide who is going through to the event in London mid-October.


The Showcase event involves the displaying of large poster size marketing boards.

Surrey Technology Centre as a whole -

  • Has incubated between 200 and 250 technology businesses over 5 years
  • Has generated £2.2 million income per annum
  • 40% of tenants located in the other 28 buildings on the Park began life in the Surrey Technology Centre
  • 500 employees within the Surrey Technology Centre
  • Creates a business environment that contributes to the wider economic development
  • An example of a recent successful transition from an incubated company that went through the SETsquared process is that of iKinema a company that recently moved into their own unit in The Surrey Technology Centre


What principles were behind the design?


3 main principles:

  • Flexibility
  • Professionalism
  • Innovation


What is innovative about the design? And use of the building?


30 day notice/meeting rooms/range of units for small to medium enterprises/labs. Providing short notice, flexible, professional, technology-enabled space to encourage business enterprise.


Lessons Learned


What changes have you made as a result of receiving feedback?


Development of routers/IT infrastructure. There is now an Extranet for the Research Park - companies have been asking for this for a while - it has proved valuable for getting messages, profiles etc across. There are some big companies represented on the Park including Microsoft so it provides a means to get involved with, and be updated on, activities.


What could have been improved? What lessons have been learned?


It was important to keep people informed as queries continued to arise a year or two after launch of the space.


Contact Details


Sarah De'Lacy, Centre Director for Surrey's SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre and Operations Manager for the Surrey Technology Centre


Case study written March 2010.