Our business community hit the ground running at the start of 2019 – literally – as six teams of staff and member companies ran the Brighton Half Marathon and collectively raised over £2,500 for the Sussex Beacon.
In April, our annual student enterprise competition StartUp Sussex announced its latest winners (see photo, top right). English Literature PhD Lana Harper won a prize worth £10,000 for her education app concept Write Now, while Mustafa Khraishi, a BSc Biology graduate, and his co-founder Fergus Morris of Adaptive Diagnostics received the same amount as winners of the Social Impact Prize.
We sadly said goodbye to Mike Herd, our Executive Director of 22 years, in May and welcomed Nigel Lambe who stepped in to lead the organisation from June. Nigel’s appointment has been a catalyst for the team to re-examine the vision, strategy and culture of Sussex Innovation, trying to build on what we already offer for growing businesses across the South East.
Our tenants will have already noticed a few of these changes taking shape in the form of social events, redecorating efforts and the much-heralded Friday afternoon beer fridge – but there are much bigger things to come in 2020, more on which below.
In September, Sussex Innovation launched its new investor network programme, Suss Ventures. Managed by new team member Laurence Grant, Suss Ventures hosted its first-ever pitching event in November to bring together London and South East's high potential start-ups and high-net worth investors.
October was a big month, with successes all round at the 2019 Croydon Business Excellence Awards. Our members Hozah won the Digital, Data and Technology award for their car parking payments technology, while Catalyst Project Manager Eva Poliszczuk was named Enterprising Young Person of the Year, and Sussex Innovation Croydon received the Best Business for Customer Service award.
Another year of StartUp Sussex was also launched in October, with 90 Sussex students and graduates taking part - the most we’ve ever had! With the halfway-stage pitches taking place as this issue goes to press, we look forward to working with the 10 finalists more intensively in the coming months.
And of course, we can’t celebrate our own 2019 news without recognising the many great accomplishments of our members last year:
• Ambiental – a global specialist in flood modelling, flood risk, and natural hazard analytics – were acquired by the environmental engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV. The deal will enable Ambiental to accelerate the growth of its flood-related digital services, strengthening its position in the insurance market.
• Enterprise Therapeutics were awarded up to £5.7m of funding under the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Therapeutics Development Award programme. The funding will enable critical clinical research to be undertaken on the company’s latest biopharmaceutical advances.
• Several member companies were on the receiving end of significant investment this year. most recently information security management specialists ISMS.Online, who followed up their participation in Tech Nation’s cyber security accelerator earlier this year by raising £2m from local investment firm Cow Corner.
• Sports event technology and ticketing company Race Nation drew upon significant investment to launch their free event day app that brings together event participants, spectators and organisers.
• Advanced Material Development received not one but two grants from the UK Defence and Security Accelerator, for nanomaterials R&D in the fields of signature management and nanobarcoding.
• CDO2 were named as one of fifteen SMEs to receive a share of £1.1m from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK in the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme for companies developing low-carbon technologies. They are developing a new generation of electric vehicle battery sensors that can map current flow in individual cells in a battery pack.
Looking ahead to 2020, we’re excited to start the year and looking forward to launching several big new projects over the coming months. As you’ll have seen in last month’s Platinum Business, we’re searching for motivated and talented people to join our team as Sussex Innovation continues to grow.
Our third centre, near Brighton station, is finally almost ready to open its doors after a long journey to completion. We’re also continuing the refurbishment of its sister sites, with a whole new ‘eating and meeting’ space coming soon to our head office on the University campus.
From 2020 we are partnering with several other business support organisations to deliver an £11m project, designed to drive economic growth in the region. We plan to use our portion of this grant from the European Regional Development Fund to do more of what Sussex is best known for – energising business leaders to found and grow companies with a purpose, addressing the big social challenges of our time.
To do this, we’ll be announcing new initiatives including specialised business bootcamps, accelerator programmes, and hosting an innovation conference with Platinum Events to bring the South East’s disruptors together under one roof. It’s set to be a very busy, very exciting year.