Warwick Innovation District Podcast Series
| Business Support for Deep Tech Founders
The University of Warwick Deep Tech Incubator is open for applications from entrepreneurs – or aspiring entrepreneurs – who want to create a sustainable business offering innovative solutions to global problems.
We talked to Andy Pardoe and Joanna Bates to find out how businesses are supported.
What do we offer?
We offer a flexible training programme designed for people at different stages in their entrepreneurship journey, which is based on the highly successful ICURe programme.
One to one mentoring will help you shape your business plan and become investment-ready; and you will also have access to our networks of businesses, investors and other useful contacts.
As a member of the programme, you will benefit from space in our facility at the heart of the University of Warwick campus, to work, hold meetings or just get to know others in the programme.
Listen to the podcast interview below…
Read the podcast interview here…
Hello I am Jason Hier from Warwick Innovation District this is our podcast series – we aim to inspire educate and incubate, helping you to start, grow or pivot your business ideas.
Today I’m joined by Andy Pardoe and Joanna Bates from the Deep Tech Innovation Centre – they run a business support program.
So Andy let’s start with you, who can benefit from the program?
Andy: So we are targeting both students and alumni of Warwick University, but also other founders, more mature founders, either based in the Midlands or in the UK. We are obviously delighted to work with alumni and that could be from any part of the University, whether it’s the Business School or one of the science departments.
So everyone is welcome from whatever part of the University you’ve come from – but we are also completely open to anyone else as well, you don’t have to have a prior relationship with the University, you don’t even need to be that local to the University either – although we are trying to create a bit of a hub with people around the Midlands. So if you are based around the Midlands it’s great for us because we can start to do more in-person events and activities, which is something we’re trying to focus on for this next cohort, but we’re very open and we’re delighted to work with anyone that has an interesting Deep Tech related business idea.
Jason: Is it only focused on AI, what are the definitions of Deep Tech?
Andy: So it’s a really interesting question because Deep Tech covers a wide range of different technologies – so it’s not just Artificial Intelligence; which is my background, it’s everything from Biotech, Medtech, Material Science, all sorts of technologies and emerging technologies like Quantum Computing, those kind of things, and the other aspect is that Deep Tech is also industry agnostic, so it can be a wide range of different industry sectors that the businesses can be operating in as well.
So in terms of an incubator it’s actually quite broad, so we work with a wide range of founders in different Industries, leveraging different technologies.
Jason: OK, so over to you then Jo, so does it matter what stage your business or idea is at?
Jo: It doesn’t matter what stage your business is at, it might just be an idea, you might have a minimum viable product, or you might be ready to go for investment, and our support program covers all of those aspects of setting up a business and commercialising research in this way.
You don’t even have to register the business yet, we can help guide you down that path if that’s the way you decide you’re going to go.
Jason: Let’s go into some of the detail then, what does the incubator offer: training, mentoring, networking, space?
Jo: So the incubator offers quite a wide range of activities and this is from formal training with commercialisation experts, we have a great network of mentors who have experience in a wide range of fields. So we would attempt to match each member of our cohort to a mentor that has the right skills to help them to progress.
We also have networking events and lunch and learn sessions, so that people can attend as much as they can manage. For those that are not able to attend everything face to face, a lot of it will be available online as well – So we hope to keep it flexible and allow people to join who might have a day job for instance.
Warwick has a tremendous history of producing spin outs through a number of programs that we run, a lot of these are directly from university research, but it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to offer the skills and experience to companies that are not originally part of the University, but just want to benefit from the ecosystem that we’ve set up here.
Jason: So Jo, what does the schedule look like, how much time do you have to put in?
Jo: The schedule we’re planning for this cohort will be a mixture of online and hybrid events. If you’ve got a day job, which about half of our current cohort have, you should still be able to access some of the material that we’ve been using and you’ll also have your mentor to work with in your own time. And for people that can get together face to face – I think most of them will agree that a big part of the benefit they get from a program like this, is exposure to other people from a completely different background, who are looking at their ideas with new eyes, and then they’re not blinkered by the conceptions that they have when they’ve set up their company, they’re offering completely new views on things.
Andy: The other aspect that I think is some sometimes overlooked is how the cohorts support each other as well, and I think we have tried to foster a good collaborative environment, we make sure that there’s no competing companies in the same cohort for example, so that you can have quite open discussions with the cohort and they’re more supportive, rather than having to be defensive because there’s two companies working in the same sector or whatever.
So I think the sort of environment that we’ve created, and of course, we started this during the pandemic, so it was all online – we had to make it as interactive and community based as possible, and we hope to continue with that. That’s one element, but there are so many different factors that makes this quite a special and unique program.
Jo: Warwick has got a great reputation across a number of fields, particularly things like Computer Science, Maths and Business Studies – but something else that we have, which we find is very useful, is we have the Minerva Business Angel Network, which is based in the Science Park and we work very closely with. So those companies that are ready to go for investment can learn from the experts and get a chance to pitch in front of the Angel Investors.
Jason: Andy, tell us about the space here at Warwick?
Andy: So we’ve got a fantastic building called ‘The Junction’ that is dedicated to our incubators and it’s a wonderful multi-purpose space that businesses and founders on our cohorts can come in and use the space – either for their own purposes, but also if they wanted to bring a customer to have a chat with, if they want to talk to partners, and whatever else. It’s a great environment, a great space that they can leverage for free, and can use at any point during their program.
Jason: OK Jo, Andy thank you so much for your time today. If you want to learn more, or to set up a discovery call with the team, or to apply for business support, then go to deep tech innovation dot org dot UK – you can find more information online, and the next cohort will start in October this year.
That’s it for me today, don’t forget to watch out for our next podcast coming very soon.
If you would like to find out more about the Deep Tech Innovation Centre, click here: http://www.deeptechinnovation.org/
To apply for support, click here
More about Warwick Innovation District here: https://warwickinnovationdistrict.com/