SETsquared Surrey’s Digital Business Acceleration Hubs (DBAH) programme is proving to be an invaluable springboard for entrepreneurs and start-ups, accelerating their path to investment, growth and product launch.

It’s a major £2.4m, three-year business acceleration initiative funded by the European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) to set up a network of four business acceleration hubs in Guildford, Woking, Basingstoke and Farnborough and linking SMEs to the regions first class digital research centres such as 5G Innovation Centre and Centre of the Digital Economy (CoDE) at Surrey University.

“I would urge anyone thinking of starting a tech-based business to go on this course, as it will set you on track to develop a viable business.” Steve Johnson, HOLM

SETsquared is the enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey and the global no. 1 university business incubator. Over the last 15 years SETsquared has helped more than 1,500 businesses raise over £1.25bn in investment. This programme is being run by SETsquared Surrey.

What does it offer?

Through the DBAH programme digital SMEs can receive funded access to two key stages of support:

  • Two-day Entrepreneur’s Programme
  • A fast-track, interactive programme designed for entrepreneurs with an idea for a new digital enabling technology product or service or founders of existing high-tech companies needing a boost to the next level. Alex Cowan of RazorSecure said “The Entrepreneur’s Programme really was the springboard for RazorSecure”
  • 12-months fully-funded business incubation support
  • Funded virtual membership of SETsquared’s business acceleration support services, delivered through one of the four hubs

Delivering value and economic impact

Since the beginning of the programme 212 entrepreneurs have taken part in the Entrepreneur’s Programme (over the course of the three-year programme 360 entrepreneurs are expected to take part). Since the programme:

  • 38% have already launched their product/service
  • 41% have recruited between 1 and 20 new staff over the last 12 months
  • 63 were awarded a 12-month membership of Setsquared’s business incubation programme

Companies taking part in the programme are seeing considerable investment success:

  • – £200k investment in seven months from private investors
  • ScreenLimit – £150k funding in four months
  • BotsAndUs – £100k Innovate UK grant and £40k SME Instruments Grant from the European Commission
  • Streeva – secured a £264k Seed investment round
  • Inovo Robotics – won an Innovate UK grant worth £225k in Sept 2017


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.