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Engine Shed tenants and SETsquared members, from technology firms developing driverless car technology to cutting edge 5G mobile networks, are among the companies helping to make the South West one of Britain’s start-up hubs, according to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss.
Latest figures show the economy in the South West is now worth more than £127 billion and is the second fastest growing economy of UK nations and regions with year-on-year growth of more than 4 per cent.
After meeting fast growing, high tech firms from Bristol and the surrounding area, including YellowDog, Ultrahaptics, and Blu Wireless, at a roundtable at Engine Shed on 2nd February 2018, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, said:
“Technology firms, like the ones I am meeting today in Bristol, help power Britain’s future. The Government is giving enterprise the freedom it needs to succeed. From Cornwall to Christchurch, The South West is buzzing with ambition and attracting interest and investment from around the world.”
Bristol has the highest start-up survival rate of all the UK’s core cities, and was named the best place to start a business by Startups.co.uk. The West of England’s scaling businesses are also thriving, with 635 scale-up companies identified in 2017. Engine Shed’s mission is to support inclusive economic growth in the region, based on McKinsey report findings which show that diversity in the workforce drives profitability and sustainability.
Roundtable attendee James Hadley of Immersive Labs said:
“Scale ups face well known funding problems, and competition from large established organisations with secure cash flows. Existing initiatives like the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), are helpful but only go so far.
“Other routes to funding such as Horizon2020 have a notoriously low success rate at application. A national scale-up programme to help organisations between £100k and £1 million would enable more digital companies to flourish and contribute to the government’s ambition of making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business.”
The Chief Secretary visited and toured Engine Shed’s facilities, and previous tenant, Ultrahaptics. The firm develops virtual reality technology and has raised more than £30 million in investment.
Engine Shed is delighted to have played host to the Chief Secretary, and welcomes the rising Government interest in the West of England as a hotspot for growing tech companies and emerging talent.
Engine Shed Director, Nick Sturge, said:
“In Bristol and Bath, in fact across the South West – I was in Exeter this afternoon supporting the TechSW initiative – we are committed to making our tech clusters sustainable. To be sustainable as an economy our industry needs to be inclusive – not least to tap into and benefit from the rich diversity that exists in our community. Government support of the
regions is essential and that includes recognising the diversity of and within those regions. A one-fits-all approach will not work and so we are keen to work with government and national agencies to make the tech sector work effectively and inclusively, going forward.”