Business minister launches new Croydon hub for ‘scale-up’ entrepreneurs
A government minister has today (Thursday 29 October) officially launched a new University of Sussex spin-off in Croydon to support ‘scale-up’ entrepreneurs.
Anna Soubry MP, Minister for Small Business and Enterprise, met with experts from the University’s business incubator, Sussex Innovation, as it opened its first off-campus site, signalling an expansion of its ‘growth engine’ model across the south-east region.
Sussex Innovation - Croydon builds on the huge success of the University’s existing Sussex Innovation Centre near Brighton, which has helped to create around 50 multi-million-pound businesses in the region over the past 20 years.
Being a branch of a university means that Sussex Innovation can offer its tenants unique access to some of the brightest academic minds in the UK, who bring expertise in areas such as psychology, statistics, and text analytics.
Speaking at the launch event this morning, Ms Soubry said: “It gives me great pleasure to launch this centre. It will help provide small businesses and start-ups with the support they need to grow, create jobs and reach their full potential. The Government is working hard to back entrepreneurs across the country, we want the UK to be the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.”
The minister was joined by Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, Patricia Hay-Justice, the Mayor of Croydon, as well as some of the University’s academic experts and prominent members of the local business community.
Mike Herd, Executive Director of Sussex Innovation, was keen to stress the institution’s approach to supporting ‘scale-ups’ as well as start-ups. “What you find with many incubators is that they look to make a relatively short-term intervention, and help a start-up to achieve sustainability,” he said.
“We’re interested in what can happen after that – how we can help the best ideas to continue growing rapidly, whilst retaining a sustainable model.
“It’s this kind of ‘scale-up’ support that can do the most for the region, and the country, in terms of delivering economic impact, growth and jobs.”
The importance of such scale-up businesses to the UK economy was highlighted in an independent report to the government by Sherry Coutu, CBE, last year.
The Croydon hub will provide a base for up to 30 high-growth potential companies with over 300 employees, and support more than 100 local businesses through its network. Over the next three years it is anticipated that the tenants will generate £6 million in turnover and raise £1 million in investment.
Professor Michael Davies, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “We recognised two decades ago that universities like Sussex have huge innovation potential and a lot to offer growing businesses.
“We’re delighted to be bringing our successful model to Croydon, one of the most exciting places to do business right now.
“By ‘putting flags in the ground’ around the region beyond our campus, we hope to enable a two-way flow of positive opportunity between us and local and business communities.”
Sussex Innovation helps entrepreneurs, academics, start-ups and growing businesses to scale up their operations, by providing strategic advice and access to a wide network of advisers, investors and potential customers.
The original Sussex Innovation Centre has been based on the University’s campus at Falmer since 1996 and has supported more than 300 small businesses. From start-up, 85% of its members have become profitable businesses, and one in six have grown to achieve multi-million pound turnover.