Sponsor Interview: Joe Pearce

Head of Business Support at SETsquared Exeter Joe Pearce talks Venturefest South West 2019. SETsquared are sponsors of the Start Ups and Scale Ups theme.

Why is Venturefest SW important to the region?
Venturefest is THE flagship event for the south west technology sector, providing an established platform for the region’s leading innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs. As a result, it attracts an impressive mix of regional and national investors, which in turn accelerates the translation of innovations and new technologies into increased economic growth for the region.

Why are you supporting Venturefest SW?
In the last year, more than 880 entrepreneurs participated in SETsquared programmes, and we incubated 381 companies to bring in a record £218m of investment. In order for us to achieve these results we have to keep ourselves well connected in the heart of the tech ecosystem. Venturefest SW allows us to do this by engaging directly with new and existing entrepreneurs, investors and business support professionals, thus ensuring that we keep ourselves visible and up-to-date with the latest developments in the sector.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a technology innovator?
1. Focus on the problem, not the solution. Having an in depth view of the problem you are aiming to solve will ensure that the technology solution you develop will have a good chance of adoption. The best solutions have a “market pull” rather than a “technology push”.
2. Seek continuous feedback on your ideas from the very beginning, and continue to engage with your customers with the same energy once your product or service gets to market.
3. Differentiate. Differentiate. Differentiate. Your product or service has to be at least good, if not great, to start out with. But it MUST be differentiated in some meaningful and important way from your competitors’ offerings‎. All else follows from this principle.

What’s the most exciting piece of tech you have come across in the region?
In terms of a business which has the potential to make a global impact, SETsquared member and Agritech business Milkalyser has developed an automated system based on wirelessly connected IoT sensors to measure hormones in milk during milking. This will revolutionise the fertility management of dairy cows, improving the welfare of the animals and the productivity of the herd, and is already attracting significant interest from global markets. The product is currently in Alpha testing and will be ready for Beta customers during 2019.

What tech do you think will have the biggest impact on the region in the future?
Recent research by RSM has indicated that the number of new tech companies founded in the South West increased by 42% during 2017. The region’s tech sector remains incredibly vibrant and a key driver for the region, with areas such as automation, healthtech, agritech, environmental futures, satellite applications and data science all looking set to play major roles in the economic growth of the region. The biggest impact may result from how well those sectors are able to overlap in order to address some of the big future challenges, such as climate change, and the collaborations which result from projects such as the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab could prove transformative for the region.