Exeter’s thriving technology sector has driven an increased demand for a network of services and support, which has born a growing array of ‘technology incubators’. These incubators offer a variety of services to aid start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to research, nurture and launch technology products and services.
Recently recognised in the Tech Nation 2016 report as a key cluster location for digital technology growth, Exeter takes its rightful place as an established centre of technology excellence. The technology incubator community is furthering this ambition, as the collaboration of thought leaders, researchers, scientists, engineers, and industry experts come together to share their insights and practical guidance to the next generation of technology leaders.
Exeter City Council is supporting the growth of the technology sector with its Invest in Exeter initiative. Councillor Rosie Denham, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “Exeter’s tech sector is flourishing. We are seeing an increase in tech firms moving to the city, as well as ambitious new start-ups. This is reflected in the continuous creation of tech incubators, offering diverse support and invaluable services to the budding tech industry.
She continued: “We were excited to be recognised in the Tech Nation 2016 report. This reflects our buoyant technology economy, incredible community-minded co-operation, and an environment that enables success for our technology residents.”
Support in achieving that success is top of the agenda for Exeter’s top technology incubators. Knowledge-sharing is a key focus; Data Science Exeter discuss trends, such as machine learning or big data and Digital Exeter organises regular seminars to connect the digital community in Exeter and they held their inaugural conference ‘Tech Exeter’ in October 2016.
Office space and resources can be sought at Exeter Science Park or the Innovation Centre. Or entrepreneurs could get involved in more advanced incubators like Being There, which is a collaboration between five universities that explores how robotics influence human experiences.
Fab Lab is an excellent space to develop prototypes using professional 3D printers. Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited, on behalf of Fab Lab, said: “Exeter is a hotbed of innovative ideas, which is producing some interesting collaborations and fantastic new ideas. At Fab Lab, countless exciting new projects have utilised our extensive resources, many of which would not have been able to become a reality so quickly and cost-effectively without a bit of support.”
With a growing network of incubators, Exeter City Council showcases some of the best available to support the growth of the blooming technology industry in the city:
Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces
A collaboration between six universities: Exeter, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and the Watershed in Bristol, Being There is a project that is exploring how robotics might have an impact on our experience of a public space, how to preserve privacy, and encourage trust in human-robot communications. An Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded collaborative research project, Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces research grant is funded by the EPSRC under its IDEAS Factory Sandpits call on Digital Personhood, grant ref: EP/L00416X/1.
Launched at the Exeter Science Park, Canopy Exeter brings together start-ups, freelancers, and mentors to support young tech business growth. The initiative provides access to facilities and expertise, as well as collaboration amongst the existing tech community.
Data Science Exeter
These data scientists, statisticians, developers, and analysts, Exeter’s enthusiasts meet every other month. Covering data science, machine learning, big data, and data visualisation topics, members can network amongst industry peers.
Designed to bring together digital professionals, Digital Exeter now has more than 700 members and is a community that comprises of marketers, web developers and tech professionals all aiming to share knowledge on the latest trends and insights, and to network.
Exeter Science Park
Exeter Science Park is a well-regarded hub for innovation and creativity, already home to many advanced businesses in the science and technology industries. With a supportive, networking approach, set in beautiful grounds, the Science Park aims to promote collaboration and business growth.
The Exeter Initiative for Science and Technology (ExIST) was founded by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Industry and business leaders. ExIST aims to optimise interaction between businesses in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicinal (or pharmaceutical) industries in Exeter.
Fab Lab Devon
The first small-scale workshop to ever open in a UK library, Fab Lab is resourced with an array of machines that allows you to scan, printer, solder, and mill, turning your inventions into prototypes. Fab Lab, run by Libraries Unlimited, is an open access, not-for-profit, community digital fabrication resource, that provides a real advantage to test and get ideas off the ground.
Flexible and affordable co-working space. The Generator, based in central-Exeter, offers open-plan or private working and meeting room facilities. With advice and support and plenty of networking opportunities, The Generator has created an innovative community.
SW Tech Hub
This new initiative is being introduced by a group of like-minded technical businesses in the Exeter area. It is supported by local lenders such as Santander Corporate Banking and is currently in an embryonic stage. It is expected to be up and fully running by June 2017 when a programme of meetings/events to take place at Pynes Hill will be published.
SETsquared Innovation Centre
Operated out of the Innovation Centre, based at University of Exeter, and the Science Park Centre, the SETsquared can offer support to high-technology and high-growth potential ventures from both within and outside the partner universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey (Guildford).
Each Centre provides ventures with access to entrepreneurs, industry specialists and investors, along with business mentoring through our network of experienced entrepreneurs and industry specialists plus guidance from centre-based experts and panels. Modern, flexible office space is also available at each centre as well as virtual membership.
TechExeter organises regular networking meetings and workshops, an annual conference, and co-working space for those who work in the tech community. With a goal of linking together like-minded people and businesses, TechExeter aims to facilitate collaboration.
Thrive Hub, based in Dean Clarke House, offers individuals and businesses flexible workspace supported by services such as PA, reception, accounting, or travel. The hub also provides access to fundraising, technology, and HR services to help businesses thrive.