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Exeter Science Park Centre has marked the launch of a new tech incubator initiative with a visit from two tech start-ups from Boston, US, looking for opportunities to expand their businesses in Exeter.
The initiative, Canopy Exeter, is an extension of the well-established model at Canopy Boston, where start-ups, freelancers and mentors come together to help young tech businesses grow.
Based at the Science Park, the Exeter scheme launched on 12th May and is offering the first 100 members free membership and hands on involvement in shaping the initiative, as well as giving them access to extensive support, mentors and facilities to help support the growth of their own business.
Stewart Noakes, Co-founder of Canopy said: “We are thrilled to be setting up this facility at Exeter Science Park which will not only provide a space where start-ups can flourish but we will be able to connect the communities in Boston and Exeter, and create more opportunities for our members to collaborate and internationalise their ideas.”
Talking at the launch to a room full of local start-ups, entrepreneurs and successful business people were Boston based entrepreneurs Alex Schwarzkopf and Matt Joyal from Pillar Technologies and Eirik Somerville from Pirashield.
Pillar Technologies joined Canopy as an early adopter in Boston and provides remote monitoring and hardware technology to construction companies in order to reduce risks, forecast and predict environmental and hazardous situations and optimise insurance opportunities.
Alex said: “We came to Exeter in the hope that we can build meaningful relationships and break into the global economy. We started out in September last year and are already piloting our technology with a global contractor, with five more lined up. We want to hit the ground running though and felt that the UK market might be more of an open environment.
He continued: “The community here in Exeter is really different, we’ve met so many people who have huge amounts of knowledge and experience. They’ve been around the block a few times and have great advice to give. We have been totally blown away, particularly with the Met Office. We have an innovation mecca in the USA but in Exeter there is so much undiscovered talent and communities that already exist. The Council are clearly putting their money where their mouth is by funding buildings like the Science Park, we don’t get that at home.”
Eirik from Pirashield, an artificial intelligence start-up with the aim of ending online piracy and illegal downloading, came to Exeter expecting a small unassuming town and was bowled over by the technology and innovation present in the city.
He said: “This whole trip has been insane. We’ve been able to speak to so many people and had the opportunity to learn so much. It’s just been amazing to see all the innovative projects and ideas that Exeter has to offer, it’s clear to see it’s a forward thinking place where the people are making stuff happen.
Eirik continued: “We are a young start-up being only 80 days old, but we already have large clients working with us. A lot of people aren’t aware that it is even possible to remove pirated content from the internet, so we have a lot of work to do, but having spoken to a lot of people over here we know that our business is of interest to a wide range of organisations.”
The three entrepreneurs will be in Exeter for three days and have a busy schedule of appointments facilitated by the team at the Science Park and Canopy Exeter, meeting representatives from Exeter City Council, Exeter City Futures, The Met Office, Crowdcube and the Innovation Centre.
The Canopy Exeter launch gave local start-ups the opportunity to speak to Matt, Alex and Eirik about their own Canopy experience and find out more about the opportunities available through the initiative.
The launch of the tech incubator initiative comes as a recent Tech Nation Report identified 161% employment growth in the tech sector in the wider Exeter area during 2011-2014. The Canopy team believes there is enormous potential to build an Exeter based technology start-up network, creating more jobs and driving the economy over the next 24 months.
Gerry Shattock, general manager of the Exeter Science Park said: “Tech start-ups are integral to science-based innovation in Exeter today, where we are seeing increasing numbers of cross-sectoral collaborations enabled by very talented tech developers. The Canopy initiative will substantially accelerate this growth.”
From the base at Exeter Science Park, members of Canopy will have access to extensive resources, networks and follow on space to support their future success.
Matt of Pillar Technologies added: “I can see us coming back to Exeter before too long, to see how things are progressing. When we are at a stage when we’re ready to expand into the European market it will be a great location for us to start. There’s so much exciting construction and development on top of a fantastically supportive and innovative community.”
If you are interested in joining the Canopy Exeter initiative contact Stewart@Canopy.city and if you’re within the first 100 founders, you will get a free membership and the opportunity to shape the future of the project.
For more information about the Exeter Science Park, visit www.exetersciencepark.co.uk or call 01392 722 226 or follow the Exeter Science Park on Twitter @ExeterSciencePk.
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