Today could be the beginning of something rather exciting for the UK’s tech start-ups as the Royal Academy of Engineering opens its much anticipated Enterprise Hub.
A key part of the Academy’s Engineering for Growth campaign – launched earlier this year – the Enterprise Hub will offer a long-term package of mentoring, training and bespoke support to what are considered ‘the best of the best’ early stage technology businesses.
And to give a flavour of how well the Hub has been received, more than 70 of the UK’s top technology entrepreneurs have already pledged to volunteer at least one day a month of their precious time to the project, with the total number of days volunteered currently standing at an encouraging 840. It goes without saying that this number should increase as word spreads about the Hub and what it can offer some of our brightest tech sparks.
Among the volunteer members, all fellows of the Academy, are Dr Mike Lynch, co-founder of Autonomy and founder of Invoke; Sir Robin Saxby, former chief executive and chairman of ARM; and Sir David Payne, serial entrepreneur and director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton.
It is hoped that the Hub will bring about a step change in the success of UK-based entrepreneurial technology businesses during what business secretary Vince Cable has labelled “the decade of the engineer”. At least that’s what the government wants to make it.
“Our vision for the Hub is to seed a culture of success amongst the most ambitious and high potential technology-intensive SMEs in the UK,” added Ian Shott, chair of the Enterprise Committee at the Royal Academy of Engineering. “It will build their capabilities and provide them with essential connections to established financing and business clusters that offer access to finance and routes to market. Success will be evidenced by UK companies with global vision creating substantial wealth, jobs and associated social and societal benefits.”
Meanwhile, Iain Wilcock, partner for UK and Irish Investments at European venture capital firm Seventure Partners, suggested that a business which has had mentoring support through the Enterprise Hub would be “an attractive prospect” for investors.
What with all the issues our start-ups are having getting the banks to lend them any dosh at the moment, it’s quite refreshing knowing that there are still pro-active schemes giving them a realistic chance of investment. Needless to say, we look forward to hearing some success stories in the not-too-distant future.