Overseas investment delivered a significant boost towards Sci-Tech Daresbury’s growth in 2019, following a surge in the number of global companies moving to the site.
The leading science and innovation campus welcomed 27 new tenants last year, including eight foreign companies. The raft of new tenants means that the site is now home to 150 businesses.
Sci-Tech Daresbury’s international appeal has been accelerated since the unveiling of its soft-landing programme last summer, with a number of global investors taking advantage of the opportunity to launch their business into the UK market.
The soft-landing programme offers free workspace and business support to global technology firms based in the campus’s Innovation Centre for up to 12 months.
One international company to have established a presence in 2019 is US biotechnology company, LivFul. The company has created technology that powers products to repel biting insects. STAYTEC™, its patented technology works with repellents to make them skin-friendly and more effective than any other repellent.
Hogan Bassey, founder and chief innovation officer at LivFul, has been so impressed by the setup he is already considering further expansion. He said: “What’s happening at Sci-Tech Daresbury is like Silicon Valley, but the culture is better. In the US, it’s as much about the individual hero, but in the UK, people come together more frequently and there’s a different sense of collaboration.
“Sci-Tech Daresbury feels like a community and that creates a different kind of energy which you feel at the Business Breakfast Networking events, when companies come together to share resources and stories. Setting up a business is very capital and research intensive. In Silicon Valley it’s three times the cost to set up a lab, but here you can tap into resources to help.
“There’s something special here and we looked at other parts of the world for a base, we thought of Germany and Switzerland, we looked at different clusters and talent pools and knowledge bases, for example in the Northeast Corridor in the US, San Francisco, and the idea of London was also heavily considered, but there’s something about Sci-Tech Daresbury that is so impressive.
“We are a start-up that was immediately global, with operations and people in East and West Africa, Asia, Brazil, USA, Great Britain and the best way for us to serve the world in terms of time zones and easy connectivity is for us to have our main hub here.”
Another company to have moved to the campus in 2019, via Sci-Tech Daresbury’s soft-landing programme, is Leaf Global Fintech from Denver, Colorado. The company offers an integrated financial service by converting mobile money through blockchain technology into stable investments. In practice this means helping to ensure access to finances for vulnerable populations and displaced people across the world initially in East Africa.
Leaf Global Fintech was first introduced to Sci-Tech Daresbury when an investors’ delegation from the Liverpool City Region visited the US.
Nat Robinson, co-founder and chief executive officer at Leaf Global Fintech, said: “We were interested in operating from the UK because it’s easier to negotiate time zones in Africa, while also the tech environment is great and there are a lot more investors who are open to investing in Africa that we can approach. The regulatory environment as well is a lot more supportive of fintech and money transfer services than in the US.
“When I visited the campus for the first time, I loved it. It’s a very well networked community with a number of investors involved as well as important services like law and accountancy that are really helpful for a start-up, especially for one coming into a new country to navigate everything.
“Geographically Sci-Tech Daresbury is really well situated. Through Liverpool and Manchester there are so many amazing destinations only a couple of hours flight away in Europe and there a lot of potential partners and investors that we have been in touch with already, for example in France and Spain as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. They are all so much more accessible from the North West than we are from Denver.
“The team at Sci-Tech Daresbury has been excellent in helping us to make the right connections and this is unique in my experience – an organisation which is actively engaged with regulators and who can help us along the way.”
It was revealed last year that more than £130 million in sales was generated by the campus in 2018. The study of 112 businesses reported an annual sales growth of 22 per cent over the 12 months.
In total, 73 per cent of companies trading have sales outside the UK with Europe continuing to be a key export market, accounting for more than half of export sales and North America accounting for more than a quarter of total sales.
John Downes, group chief executive of Langtree and chair of the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture company, said: “We’re pleased to be reporting another year of continued success for Sci-Tech Daresbury, which has seen a number of new tenants join the campus.
“A major contributor to this growth has been a direct result of the interest we are receiving from international businesses looking to relocate their operations to the UK and we’re delighted that so many have chosen the campus as their new home.
“The power of the collaborative culture on campus cannot be underestimated and when combined with the wealth of scientific expertise and facilities on offer, it creates a very special place for companies to develop and expand.
“Looking forward to the new decade, we’ll strive to continue to encourage innovation between our tenant companies on a local, national and international level. We’re excited to see what the year ahead holds for the campus as we continue to develop and attract even more companies to the site in 2020 and invest in future facilities to support businesses as they grow on site.”
The Innovation Centre welcomed 20 new tenants in 2019: Microgeneration Certification Services, C W Fields, Dunwoody, Codel, Kognitiv Spark, Code Fork, Care Quality Ecosystems, Uovo Technologies, PES UK, Vulcan, Econcrete, Onkolyze, Loki Technology, Mindler, All Four Technologies, Worldline IT Services, Samson VTI, Leaf Global Fintech, Incertrans and DATP Ltd.
Four new businesses have moved in the Campus Technology Hub including Artemis Analytical, Formeric, Biaccon and Nantrack, while Croda and the University of Huddersfield Centre for Precision Technologies have moved into Techspace One. The Innovations Technology Access Centre welcomed Neu Drive.