BetaDen, Worcestershire’s first commercial tech accelerator, has launched its second cohort programme to support startup founders focusing on 5G connectivity.
Situated in Malvern, home to one of the UK’s first 5G testbed locations, BetaDen launched with its first cohort in 2018 with funding from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP).
At a time where smart cities and 5G roll-out are at their peak, BetaDen provides an accelerator program for smaller businesses developing technology in those areas.
“We've got quite a high concentration of individuals that are highly skilled and working in some deep tech environments," Linda Smith, CEO and founder at BetaDen told Techworld. "What we decided was that BetaDen could offer an acceleration space to individuals who had ideas for products and services that could be developed in our nine-month cohort program."
Located in the Midlands, BetaDen offers an alternative route to funding and support to the typically London-based programmes.
“The normal set up is everyone goes to London for the money and for the network," Smith said. "That is correct in many industry circles, but I think with the cost of developing 5G technology and the pace of which it is being produced, the cost of that location is also really important,” she added.
“Worcestershire is investing in creating that space, so that people can create the businesses of tomorrow here in this lesser known location," she added. "Because the global marketplace is demanding greater and more efficient products then we need to bring that market to life."
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The Cohort 2.0 programme will be launching this month, offering 10 founders and entrepreneurs support in partnership with BetaDen and its ‘cyber valley’ cluster.
The cyber valley, which spreads across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, already includes over 80 businesses in the tech sector.
“That cyber valley tag is really to try and attract inward investment into this area," Smith admits. "So again, a place where overseas companies are looking for a good location landing with an ecosystem, or a network.
“It is also for companies in scale-up that may have started, or want to grow and kind of go into their own larger premises in the future and grow its workforce, but also be connected to a community where there's clear advantage by being part of a network specialism,” she explained.
BetaDen’s cohort also includes a growing community of mature candidates, with interests and experience in newer technology sectors such as industry 4.0, the internet of things (IoT) and more.
“So it's not just purely security technology, it can be sensor tech, it can be blockchain, for manufacturing, or societal need for digital society, healthcare, medtech or production technology. So a range of technology applications and environments and really, the kind of people that have grown up here and work in some quite complex technological environments.
“We must stress that we are an accelerator and not an incubator and the expectation with acceleration, the package of support on offer and funding on offer, is that people have got to be ready with a product to make best advantage of this offer,” she added.
Smith hopes that BetaDen can partner with investors and other networks in the future, to give companies a wider array of opportunities as part of its accelerator model.
“There’s been nothing like it on offer here, even though this part of the world has a strong identity in security, technology and information assurance specialism,” she added. “As you can imagine, those manufacturing businesses, if they’re using digital technologies they’ll need a high degree of security technologies."