“We started looking at this over a year ago,” said Steve Rawlins, Anglia’s CEO. “While we’ve worked for some time with innovative start-ups we conceived the idea of Anglia Unicorn as a way in which to provide start-ups, entrepreneurs and technology investors with the engineering resources, evaluation hardware and software tools that are necessary to guide them and verify a design’s implementation.”
Rawlins added that all of this would be free of charge.
The idea is to support not only technology start-ups and university spin-outs but also venture capitalists, investors and equity funds who are working with technology companies and that need help getting to the next level.
“We want customers to think of the Anglia Unicorn team as a technology adviser that works alongside their legal and financial advisers,” explained Rawlins. “It’s certainly not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and we’ll listen to what companies need and provide a bespoke programme to meet those specific requirements.”
Although the partnership between Anglia Unicorn and the start-up will ideally begin with a concept, in practice, the customer may already have a proof-of-concept based around an off the shelf solution, such as a credit card sized single board computer or Arduino-type platform.
“In that case, Anglia Unicorn will be able to offer help regardless of what stage the project is at, and we’ll be able to offer start-ups a free confidential consultation where they can discuss the concept, the key project milestones and the ultimate vision for the product,” said Rawlins.
According to Rawlins, Anglia has actively engaged with universities over the past 12 months talking to heads of department to better understand their needs.
“When we explain the offer they are very excited by it. Few of our competitors play in the university space and we want to develop a level of engagement at the earliest possible stage and I don’t think that’s been done before.”
According to Rawlins initial discussions will lead to key technology recommendations to help deliver the start-up’s vision as quickly, reliably and cost-effectively as possible. This proposal will then be backed up with support from Anglia’s engineering resource, which includes highly skilled and experienced field application engineering teams, along with access to other specialisations from the Anglia eco-system if needed.
“At that early stage it’s so important to ask the right questions, but that’s true of the whole process from the prototype stage to mass production,” added Rawlins. “We’ve found that few universities have spin-out arms with the commercial edge that’s required. I’m hoping that with Anglia Unicorn we’ll provide a link that’s able to pull the whole ecosystem together - an electronics version of LinkedIn.”
To that end Anglia Unicorn will also look to partner with financial investors who will be able to, “identify if a design has legs or commercial value,” according to Rawlins. When it comes to manufacturing Anglia will look to point the customer to a suitable EMS (electronic manufacturing service), and will be entirely, “EMS agnostic,” according to Rawlins.
To date Anglia has target over 120 universities that offer electronic courses and is encouraging them to come forward with ideas.
“We are able to provide the support necessary to bring great ideas to market – helping with proof of concept, compliance, certification and sustainability to mass production itself,” added Rawlins. “It’s about not only helping to bring great ideas to market but accelerating time to market too.”