January 25, 2022
Future Club 2021: Reflections from the frontline of innovation
At the start of 2021, Sci-Tech Daresbury unveiled the inaugural five members to join its new and exclusive business growth scheme, The Future Club.
Significant business potential
The specially selected group were chosen in recognition of their significant business potential. Benefits of their membership would include early access to the business support expertise, partnerships and networks at the campus. Also, those selected have received greater visibility within the business and tech communities in the North West and beyond, helping each business to take key steps on its journey to realising its growth potential.
As Future Club members, the companies were also able to access the campus’s vibrant working environment, including a range of hot desks, offices, laboratories, and workshop facilities across a number of buildings on the campus.
For the Future Club class of 2021, the ability to network with similarly dynamic businesses on campus has been one of the key benefits.
Sam Lewtas of Circada - which aims to improve health and wellbeing through the supply of its health-oriented smart lighting product, which works by synchronising the body’s natural clock with nature - said: “The Sci-Tech Daresbury team in particular John Leake and Paul Treloar have been very helpful in connecting me with likeminded businesses and useful contacts throughout the wider network. The opportunity to have conversations on campus and with the wider network has been a fantastic benefit to me. Another huge benefit of being a member of the Future Club has been the access to the campus Gold Partners, being able to draw on their expertise over the last 12 months has been invaluable for my business.’’
The Gold Partners are a group of handpicked organisations that offer first-class support for Sci-Tech Daresbury campus companies in a range of business and research areas – during 2021, the Future Club members were able to tap into this unique and vast resource.
This was, unsurprisingly, a huge benefit for all members.
Jon Twigge is CEO of Potentialisation, an online platform that provides an automated holistic coaching system around personology (including emotional intelligence, motivation and personality traits). In collaboration with a variety of experts, the company aims to deliver learning paths and tools and will use artificial intelligence, large data and machine learning to research and improve its service offering.
As Jon explains, several of the Gold Partners have been crucial in laying the groundwork for the company’s future growth:
“Konsileo worked with us on public liability, Slater Heelis have advised on legal issues and Grant Thornton offered financial support. While we’re still writing software and don’t have a product that will enable us to act on this support just yet, the benefits from receiving this assistance will be felt not only in 2022 but way into our company’s future.”
For Gary Swale, the benefits of a start-up just being associated with Sci-Tech Daresbury have been pivotal in the development of his company, Inspirze.
Inspirze is a digital employee engagement platform that addresses the challenge of sustaining an organisation’s ability to live the brand. First established in South Africa, its recent expansion to the UK has seen it embark on a strategy of participation and growth in the Liverpool City Region, including taking an active part in the LCR Sustain Programme as part of the Metro Mayor's Business Growth Package.
“The biggest benefit of being in the Future Club has been the impact on our brand awareness and reputation,” says Gary. “Just being associated with Sci-Tech Daresbury gives you a certain credibility.
“We're now at the stage where we're about to launch and so we're looking for early-stage customers to join us. Our launch will be informed by the helpful work that we've completed with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and JV partners of Sci-Tech Daresbury.
“We’ve also been working with Innovate UK, who we connected to through Sci-Tech Daresbury and the Future Club. They made sure that we went through the correct process and ticked all the right boxes when we're talking to potential investors. The support we received as members of the Future Club has been pivotal in what I see as a year of learning – we’re now ready to scale up, and our future growth will be underpinned by everything we’ve learned in the past year.”
For Sam Lewtas, the unique ecosystem of the campus was a key benefit of Future Club membership: “Having the meeting rooms on hand for use was a great advantage for meeting contacts from across the North West. Additionally, we’re doing some really exciting work with the Virtual Engineering Centre which has only been facilitated by working closely with Sci-Tech Daresbury.”
Regarding how the class of 2022 should take to their Future Club membership, Gary Swale advises: “What you get out of it is what you put into it. From the physical infrastructure that provides the perfect environment to meet new contacts to the expert networkers that connect you and your business to just the right organisation to meet your growth needs.
“Being a member of the Future Club offers start-ups a unique opportunity to give your business the kickstart required to realise your ambitions. I’m really excited to see both what my business and those of my fellow Future Club alumni are able to achieve in the years ahead.”
Other Future Club members included SMETER, a business advisory firm designed to deconstruct and support organisations in practising effective sustainability. Its directors are Malcolm Evans, primarily a financier/entrepreneur and Andrew Beechener, an IT moderniser.
Also in the Future Club’s first intake was Inventia, founded by Amir Kotb, a technology and innovation company that provides multiple R&D products for a broad range of industries as well as software and electronics consultancy services.
“I’d like to congratulate our class of 2021 for all they achieved during their membership of the Future Club, said John Downes, Chief Executive of Langtree and chairman of Sci-Tech Daresbury. “The advice received, connections made, and doors opened during the early stages of any start-up can be pivotal in ensuring progress is achieved in rapid time enabling ambitions to be achieved over a company’s lifetime. We will continue to offer our support to these businesses, while they can also tap into the expertise of their fellow alumni over the years to come.”
We look forward to announcing the new members of The Future Club 2022 in the coming weeks.