Swindon - The Technology Villge

TechSwindon Paul O'Collins

By Paul O’Collins, head of innovation at Business West

Swindon is not only home to the UK’s Innovation Agency and Research Councils (UKR&I) but also is a place where technology-based businesses have the opportunity to both settle and thrive.

Its excellent communication links and geographic centrality has over the years made it home to a number of high-tech businesses. Today, the biggest tech employer is Nationwide Building Society, with c1,500 tech staff employed at their Swindon HQ.

However, where Swindon is developing a national reputation is in being home to a number of smaller, newly emerging tech businesses that recognise the opportunities that its unique location and the local business support ecosystem brings.

The phrase 'It takes a village to raise a child' is very true of the variety of local regional and national initiatives that Swindon businesses can access, but one that maybe requires special mention is Innovate UK’s Innovate 2 Succeed programme.

Specifically targeted at high growth, tech based businesses, Innovate2Succeed, which is fully funded by Innovate UK in its own home town,  is designed to deliver a bespoke solution to help overcome the challenges an SME faces in getting its service or product from concept to market.

Innovators and entrepreneurs are acutely aware of the challenges and pitfalls a company faces as it attempts to turn its ideas into reality - and access to finance, resources, people, opportunity and know-how are all daily obstacles to success. 

Innovate2Succeed recognises these challenges and by providing a unique blend of mentoring, know-how, finance and expertise – has helped many tech-based SMEs grow and prosper, access grants and investment, develop their internal capability and explore and exploit new markets.

By way of illustration of the benefits of Innovate2Succeed, two Swindon-based businesses that have benefitted from the programme include Adstral Fulfilment and BioViron International.

Adstral Fulfilment

Adstral’s founder, Tony Day, previously worked for Bertelsmann’s book sales division, which was a huge logistical operation at its peak, before developing his own tech-driven fulfilment business. 

His eCommerce marketplace integration links directly to platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify and WooCommerce meaning it can ship immediately, without his worldwide clients having to refer orders.
The company is now developing biodegradable shrink-wrapping services, aiming to be the first distributor in the South West to do so. 
Through Innovate2Succeed, Tony’s business has undergone strategic reviews and business model analysis, as well as support with product strategy, lean processes and marketing. 

Through the programme, Tony has also made use of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the world’s largest support network for SMEs, connecting with providers of highly specialised biodegradable materials.

BioViron International

Bruce Bodio founded BioViron in 2005 with the aim of taking his bio compostable, corn starch-based packaging worldwide and has delivered contracts for major distributors, medical suppliers and the MoD. 

He has also adapted the product to create cool boxes, artificial snow and, with help from the Innovate2Succeed programme, new insulation products. Innovate2Succeed has also been able to support with business model analysis, new funding advice and digital marketing support including website, SEO and social media.

Like Tony, Bruce has used EEN to make new connections, sparking talks with a Danish company that required plastic-alternatives to festival shot glasses and a cosmetics company that wanted to cut its plastic usage. 

In summary

In  a post-COVID world where some traditional business paradigms and myths have been exploded, Swindon is focussed on becoming  the home to some of the UK’s most innovative businesses by ensuring that they have the support, encouragement and finance necessary for their success.

Building that 'Technology Village' where high tech growth businesses can prosper, supported by the warm glow of national regional and local initiatives is well under way.