The Innovation Centre

Innovation Centre hosts ‘some of the most upwardly mobile small firms in the country’ says BBC

A new report, commissioned by the BBC and produced by Experian, has placed Exeter in the top 10 in England for businesses that show high potential.

The Innovation Centre based on the University of Exeter campus, is home to 55 firms in the city and can boast some of the most upwardly small firms in the country amongst its clients. Dr Robin Jackson, CEO of the centre said “The Innovation Centre provides much more than heat, light and a telephone to its clients. We can enable ambitious organisations to innovate and thrive with our wealth of facilities and services and access to leading-edge knowledge and expertise.”

Allen Alexander, a Senior Research Fellow in the Business School and Director of the Centre added “I’m not surprised Exeter has fared so well in this report. My research supports SMEs in the South West to assess, develop and improve their capability to innovate successfully, by focussing on how they apply and manage their knowledge. Professor John Bessant and I were recently awarded a grant of £80,000 by the Intellectual Property Office Fast Forward Competition to extend our work in this area”.

“John and I were also invited to lead an event in Cornwall where delegates from the police, fire, ambulance, army, RAF and RN search and rescue joined Cornwall Council Emergency Service teams to listen to our latest research findings and learn how innovation can help them address some of the immense challenges they face in the coming years. Innovation is the life blood of high growth organisations and businesses in the South West are certainly tuned in to its importance – especially those that attend the Innovation Club, which we host at the University.”

Two of the current clients of the Innovation Centre were highlighted by a leading website in a table of the top 20 start-up companies of 2011. Crowdcube offers UK entrepreneurs an alternative way to access seed or growth capital. They simply write an online pitch and decide the amount of equity they want to give away for the investment, then ordinary people can invest as little as £10 towards the target – empowering a nation of armchair dragons.

Just two months after its launch, Fantasy Shopper surprised even the most experienced industry insiders with its extraordinary success. In November, it was named as the winner of Amazon Web Services’ global Start-up Challenge – beating competition from Silicon Valley and Asia to be proclaimed the most exciting online start-up in the world today. Using real-world data, social shopaholics can create outfits from clothes and accessories that are in the shops right now – and if they want to buy a garment for real, they can do so with the touch of a button. Within two weeks of launch the platform was hosting an average of 14 fantasy transactions per second.

Dr Jackson concludes “For such a small city, we seem to have an awful lot of talent.”

The full BBC report can be viewed on its website.

Date: 21 March 2012