The Virtual Technology Cluster Group is intending to target retail and the Internet of Things for its next wave of virtual clusters connecting SMEs with corporates.

The Deloitte Healthcare Virtual Technology Cluster is the second such partnership after VTC’s pilot centre, the Lockheed Martin UK Virtual Technology Cluster - now known as the Leidos VTC - which focused on cyber security.

VTC Group CEO Auriol Stevens told BusinessCloud that it is eyeing the opening of “five or six clusters” in the future.

“We want to target other verticals, such as retail,” she said. “We are also focusing on the IoT, specifically areas such as critical infrastructure.”

VTC is paid by sponsors such as global professional services firm Deloitte to run the clusters, which help multinationals attract emerging and disruptive innovators.

Successful members range from university projects through to start-ups, SMEs and public companies, with opportunities for commercial partnerships or investment.

These have access to “scale-up support and commercial mentoring” and do not have to pay membership fees, while no money is taken from the smaller firm’s bottom line.

“There is no easy mechanism for SMEs to get into the supply chain of a corporate without annoying them,” Stevens explained.

“We get a finder’s fee if the match proves to be a success. We’re not a charity: we connect companies with an eye on revenue. 

“However we won’t connect them if we don’t think it’s an appropriate match… it comes down to whether they want to disrupt or be disrupted.

“The question we ask is: can we solve an existing problem for these companies? Provide them with a solution? And can the SME perform the contract?

“Some of the companies are post-revenue, some are very early tech.”

The VTC Group, based on Regent Street, London, supports regular events to connect businesses but does not run them directly.

The second VTC aims to advance the digitisation of healthcare through the adoption of innovative technologies.

“There is no particular bias as to whether the healthcare companies are from the UK or US,” added Auriol. “It depends on what the sponsor is looking for.

“By design, healthcare does not have any geographic constraints."

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