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Exeter’s startup tide on the rise

TechCityinsider’s TechCities content demonstrates that London is far from the only major UK hub for digital innovation. In our latest city startup overview from Company Formations 24.7, Anna Lemos reports from Devon’s county town, Exeter, where Crowdcube is the local tech star.

Exeter is the latest, perhaps unlikely, addition to the list of UK tech hubs that encourages opportunities for innovation and growth.

LocationInfo_ExeterSo much so that it has been placed not only on the UK’s tech map, but also the global one. We can see evidence for this in the success of Exeter-based Crowdcube, which has reached over £100 million in capital raised for businesses, and as of last year held 52% of the market share when it came to UK equity crowdfunding.

This kind of innovation, born in Exeter, has served to provide new life to startups from around the world. Luke Lang, the co-founder of Crowdcube, believes that the city of Exeter provides such a great space for entrepreneurship because “the local council has worked hard to foster a strong startup community in the area, as well as trying to attract big brands to Exeter, such as EDF and the Met Office.

“These brands help attract talent and experience to the area,” he continues, “which in turn helps smaller businesses. Exeter has good rail, air and road links and the top 10-ranked university makes the city more diverse, vibrant, and produces well-educated, high-calibre people for the local jobs market.”

Further supporting Exeter’s claim as a hub of innovation is data that shows that the University of Exeter is not only a top-10 UK university, as Lang highlights, but also ranks in the world’s top 100.

Clearly Lang and his co-founder Darren Westlake’s business has thrived in Exeter. This kind of success has brought in foreign interest as well, such as a group of Portuguese entrepreneurs who recently visited the Devon county town to looking to explore business opportunities in the city through the Exeter Science Park.

Another highly successful initiative involving Exeter is SETsquared, a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. Between them, they have already contributed over £3.8 billion in GVA over a 14-year period and have helped early companies raise more than £106 million. This partnership was in 2014 ranked as the fourth-best business incubator in the world, and the joint best in Europe.

So what does the future hold? Exeter has already gone a long way in establishing itself as a tech hub, but the city has its eyes firmly set on expanding and growing this hub for the future. SETsquared Exeter is helping to do just this with events such as the Exeter Startup Weekend. Running from June 10-12, this event looks to bring together bright entrepreneurs of any age to pool together ideas that could change the world.

While Exeter might not rival places like Silicon Valley just yet, these kinds of initiatives go a long way in helping Exeter to become a city of the future by bringing together young tech startups, university graduates, and entrepreneurs.

This Exeter Startup Weekend, the third of its kind, has a focus on sustainability. Its aim, with specific attention to the energy, transport and health sectors, is to help make Exeter a sustainable city, looking in turn to enrich the quality of life and improve the environment.

With previous events such as the Google StartUp Weekend – that was hosted in Exeter in 2015 – the city is no stranger to bringing together talent from around the world.

Exeter does still have some way to go in convincing those on the global stage that it has its own version of Silicon Roundabout, but successful ventures like Crowdcube prove that it has potential. With plenty to see and do in Exeter, and with an average house price of £211,499 compared to London’s £556,350, there are obvious advantages to setting up business here.