Starting your own business is now �less of a risk�

Despite the credit crunch, it is now less risky to start a business than be employed in the corporate technology sector, according to Bristol University’s business incubation director Nick Sturge.

Ongoing research by UK Business Incubation (UKBI) - the industry body for incubation and incubator centres - has found that over 90 per cent of young and small companies that are incubated are still flourishing after three years and over 80 per cent of these companies are still trading after five years, by which time they have normally left the incubator.

This compares with a three-year success rate of just 41 per cent for UK businesses in general, according to the findings of the Office of National Statistics and HMRC.

“With many major technology corporations laying off staff by the thousands, starting a business with the resources of a focused business incubator behind you is now less of a risk than staying where you are and waiting for the axe to fall. If you have already been laid off, there’s never been a better time to look at the option of starting on your own – there’s never been more support available,” Sturge said.

The Universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey provide incubator facilities for technology businesses under the SETsquared Partnership programme. Bristol University’s incubator, or Business Acceleration Centre, recently won UKBI's “Established Business Incubator of the Year 2008” award.

SETsquared centres provide business mentoring, coaching, access to university expertise, investment readiness training, introductions to potential investors and subsidised office space. “It can cost from as little as £100 a month to get set up in a SETsquared centre and we estimate that the facilities, advice and expertise we offer is provided at about one-tenth of the cost of buying it on the open market,” added Sturge.

Companies within SETsquared Business Acceleration Centres have reportedly raised over £120m investment in the last four years and have created more than 1,000 new jobs. There are currently over 300 business incubators in the UK.

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