At Engine Shed we believe that, despite minor competition and overlaps, hosting a diverse range of accelerators can only reap benefits for Bristol, and help us all reach our objective of economic growth. Let us explain why.
When Engine Shed opened in 2013, we hosted the 11-year-old hybrid incubator/accelerator, SETsquared Centre, and the brand new WebStart Bristol accelerator. WebStart and SETsquared overlapped and therefore competed in some ways, albeit with different propositions.
Since WebStart has matured and is nurturing the investments from the first three cohorts, Engine Shed has been keen to host another incubator or accelerator. We gave it a go with a Spanish games incubator – it was worth a try, and taking a risk, but ultimately nothing came of it.
So, when Oracle came along, choosing Bristol as the best place in the UK to establish the next in its line of Oracle Scale Up Accelerators (OSCAs), not only was Engine Shed the obvious choice for them, but we were very eager to host them too. But why? If Engine shed were an ASDA Superstore, we wouldn’t host a small LIDL concession on our land, would we? Or would we…
Our view is that collaboration is a better way to do business than protective or aggressive methods. Even if SETsquared hadn’t been engaged by Oracle to support OSCA, we’d still have taken them in as a tenant. Ultimately, this is because we believe it is a good thing for Bristol. Likewise, OSCA would benefit from the environment at Engine Shed, with its connectivity, facilities and culture. And of course, it would keep SETsquared ‘on it’s toes’.
It’s important that Engine Shed sets a good example. Whatever the commercial model, it is far more likely that an organisation does better if it works with partners – including their competitors – if the goal is the same: economic growth. This is the mantra Engine Shed has always lived by, and it’s done us really well, so we’re sticking to it!
So, when OSCA takes up residence with us this August, we’ll be doing our best to support it, to encourage applications and assist as best we can to ensure the companies it supports are as successful as possible. SETsquared, as the only other incubator currently in the building, can only benefit from their arrival.
When we open Engine Shed 2, there will be space for more incubators, accelerators and hubs, and we hope very much that there will be third parties to run them. It encourages everyone involved to do a better job, and so the supported companies do better and we all achieve our objective.
So we say, bring it on! The more the merrier.