StartUp Studio returns after £1m first year success

The only tech business support programme for the whole of the South West of England is launching for its second year, after helping companies secure £1m.

Tech South West StartUp Studio 2021 saw the likes of Paranimo, Eate, Groundwaves, Milbotix  and a clutch of other early stage pre-seed companies go on to raise £1m of grants and investment since completing the programme – with some still actively fund-raising; seeking another £1m!

Now StartUp Studio is back and open to new entrants. Companies must have been trading for less than two years to qualify.

And alongside StartUp Studio, Tech South West is also launching ScaleUp Studio for growing tech firms.

The Tech South West Growth Programme is supported by Growth Partners Bishop FlemingBritish Business BankKing RecruitSkowt Consulting and Astley Media.

Ben Cooper, Funding and Support Lead at Tech South West, said: “We’re really pleased with the outcome of the first two cohorts of StartUp Studio, and the success the founders have had in raising both investment and grant funding. As a result we’ve expanded the capacity of the programme going forward, and are delighted to be launching ScaleUp Studio to run in parallel. We’re hopeful of supporting more amazing tech startups and scaleups from across the region over the coming months and years.”

Both programmes are open to tech companies based anywhere in the South West. Firms can apply via techsouthwest.co.uk.

Pippa Clarke, Head of Technology Innovation & Growth at Bishop Fleming, said:  “The tech sector has one of the highest rates of startups of any sector, and it’s from these startups that great businesses are born.  Working with so many tech businesses, it’s important to us to contribute to the overall health of the tech community.  We do this by providing support to start up tech businesses through incubators and accelerators and working with those who need our support.”

StartUp and ScaleUp Studios provide business support, 1-1 mentoring, workshops, funding guidance and introductions, brand, marketing, talent acquisition, financial management, product development and pitch expertise.

The expanded format follows on from the success of StartUp Studio in 2021, which involved two cohorts and has seen £1m raised by the companies just months after finishing the programme, with close to another £1m in the process of being raised through the remainder of this year.

Companies that completed StartUp Studio last year include mental health matching service Paranimo, which has gone on to raise c£100k of SEIS thus far, including investment from Worth Capital, and is looking to raise further to £300k. Healthtech company Milbotix, whose ‘smart socks’ for dementia patients have been covered by the BBC,  has raised £165k since taking part in the programme, and is now raising £500k from investors to commercialise their product.

Dr Zeke Steer, founder of Milbotix, said: “I greatly benefited from joining the StartUp Studio 2021. I enjoyed the cohort-based approach and opportunity to meet founders working on a range of exciting start-ups. The pitch practice and mentoring elements of the programme were valuable in developing my confidence to approach investors.”

Caroline Orr, Marketing Director at Astley Media, said: “StartUps are the lifeblood of the tech sector and so we are super-excited to be working with some of the region’s finest through this year’s Tech South West accelerator programme. Marketing and brand are essential to early stage growth. Know your audience, own your story and love your journey; we help startups put the foundations in place for rapid growth.”

The programme runs alongside a number of projects delivered by Tech South West to support the sector, including online workshops, esports festivals, regular meetups, research projects and the annual Tech South West Awards, which take place in November.

The organisation’s recent SW Tech Analysis Report – the most comprehensive of its kind ever conducted in the region – revealed that access to talent remains the most significant challenge facing tech companies.

Magdalena King, Principal Technical Consultant at King Recruit, said: “Talent is a key consideration for early stage tech companies as they take on funding and grow. At King Recruit we are delighted to be supporting the StartUp and ScaleUp Studios, providing expertise on developing robust talent strategies to maximise skillsets and time-to-value for new hires.”

Tech is the fastest growing part of the region’s economy, expected to reach nearly £20bn and provide 125,000 jobs by 2026.

Steve Conibear, UK Network Director, South and East of England at British Business Bank, said: “The British Business Bank is delighted to be supporting the Tech South West StartUp and ScaleUp Studios, having helped to deliver the first StartUp Studio in 2021. We are dedicated to supporting the growth of early stage businesses, and this programme provides an ideal leg up for tech founders starting out on their journey or looking to grow.”

Tech South West operates across the region to support the tech sector, with over 2500 members, and works with the likes of SETsquared, Software Cornwall, TechSPARK and Digital Plymouth.

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