incubator, SME, startup, finance, management

What’s it like in a start-up incubator?

Housed in an old bank branch in Cambridge, the Barclays Eagle Lab Incubator has been helping high-growth start-ups scale up and grow, creating local jobs in the area and stimulating economic growth.

Business travel platform Tripism was one of the first start-ups to join Eagle Labs. The lab, which launched in 2016, and is also the first bank-led incubator in the UK, has given Tripism a base to grow its team and provided a community and a source of advice on anything from legal matters to investments and pitching.

Founder of Tripism Adam Kerr says that before joining his team was “either working from home or coffee shops. We needed a base as the team was growing.”

The travel industry was not something Kerr was previously involved in, but he saw a gap in the market for the need to improve the tools available for business travellers. “As a small start-up in an industry which isn’t your background, it is helpful to have kind of a sounding board to be able to flush ideas out,” he says. “That has been a real benefit for us. Some of the operational things I had not done before too – laborious things like taxation, regulations and so on.

“Other things that we have benefitted from are the mentoring. When we were at quite an early stage one of the mentors here was from Thomas Cook. He was really helpful for us in the early stages, and still continues to give us advice.”

The start-up taking a digital pill

Another start-up that has been growing in the incubator is digital therapeutic firm ElectronRX. The company has been at Barclays Eagle Lab for about nine months and has just taken on two new hires, taking their staff from seven to nine.

ElectronRX uses technology to decipher the electronic digital code that runs back and forth in our nerves, looking at how it correlates to particular diseases such as diabetes, obesity or depression, so an intervention can then be made.

“You are looking at listening to what is going on in the body and you are trying to work out what that pattern is,” Bipin Patel, founder of ElectronRX, says. “We have a piece of innovation that could potentially touch the lives of many thousands of people.”

The company is now starting to expand to the next level and has the opportunity to take one of its products into a clinic into the next few months.

Finding the latest discoveries

In the edtech market, another life sciences firm, CamBioScience, has been using its incubator time to help develop its online training courses about the latest discoveries and technologies. “We are facing huge skills gaps in society as they stand today,” says Dr Chibeza Agley, CEO of CamBioScience. “Employers are not able to get the people with the right skill sets to meet the needs of their organisations anymore, because higher education can’t keep up with the pace of change.”