Xenint is a research and development (R&D) company operating at the forefront of the tech world in communications, sensing, smart and internet technology. It works in a diverse security sector for both public and private sector clients, with most of the R&D happening at The Hive itself. The three founders had long careers working for a global technology leader in the aerospace, transport, defence and security markets prior to starting Xenint. Since occupying offices at the Hive in 2014, Xenint has quadrupled its team size and now has a core of 12 engineers and scientists plus many subcontractors.
In January 2019, Sara de Neut became Managing Director of Xenint. Sara says,
“I’ve spent 18 years in defence and security as a civil servant. I worked with the three founders for a previous employer. Following a major restructure there, Xenint was created as an independent, privately-funded venture. At the time, Xenint asked me to be the Non-Executive Director, a role that I have held from the start while working for a leading provider of technology enabled business services, setting up a new proposition and growing a small business for them. Following a very successful five years at The Hive, during which the company’s gone from strength to strength, I’ve just been asked to be MD. I’m delighted to re-join my former colleagues now we are firmly established to help take the company forward in the next stage of its growth.
What does your company do?
Confidentiality surrounds Xenint’s activities, due to the nature of its pioneering R&D. Sara diplomatically shares what she can about goings on at The Hive.
“Xenint specialises in solving complex technology problems. It undertakes research, develops new concepts, and matures technology and processes. We develop ideas to the point where the technology or software prototypes are feasible and can be demonstrated, harnessing the collective power of science, technology, innovation and talent. The research and development is mainly carried out at The Hive, with the output of our work handed back to the client to work with. We also work closely with other partners to get the product market ready. For example, over the past four years we have been working with the Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult to develop new, advanced and sustainable technology manufacturing processes able to meet a complex client requirement to grow export product sales in the FinTech and internet industry. Another project we are working on at the moment is, sadly, very topical. Supported by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and the Home Office we are currently working on an innovative technology and approach that could help reduce knife crime in the UK through the identification of people carrying steel-bladed knives. To support this, we’re bringing together our deep experience of advanced sensing, augmented reality and artificial intelligence technologies.”
It’s not always possible for Xenint to use local partners due to some of the very specialist skill sets required, but they try to keep local and currently work with a few specialist software and hardware suppliers based in and around Weston-super-Mare.
Why The Hive?
Sara explains that many specific things attracted Xenint to The Hive, alongside factors such as its professional environment and the in-house availability of accounting and business advice services.
“Location, security and office configurability were our main draws. Xenint’s founders and staff all live nearby making commutes short. The Hive’s proximity to the motorway and to the talent of Bristol and Bath’s world-class tech cluster is also of paramount importance, as is the sheer adaptability of The Hive. Our office space has grown in stages and we’ve been able to take on and reconfigure more self-contained space as required. The Hive’s flexibility enabled us to invest in more space when we needed it on easy, low-risk terms. Our business admin has been kept to a minimum; we don’t have to move offices or change business address every time we need to rent a new office space or laboratory.”
Integration and co-location of the business is a key consideration for the company. Sara reveals that it’s creative and innovative with a relaxed people-focused ethos (and that there’s a Xenint Bear, a sweet machine and a fridge-full of snacks and chocolate bars. Google HQ meets Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with a tech slant, perhaps?).
Sara adds, “Having worked together previously with the founders, there were some elements of that culture that we wanted to retain. We want to go the extra mile for our clients, while developing our own values and staff, because our people are the ones that come up with the bright ideas. We’ve done this successfully at The Hive, while remaining part of its wider networking and business community. The staff here are superb and so welcoming, from business matters to really human things like running an honesty box for the duck eggs I’m overrun with at home!”
What’s on the horizon at The Hive?
Xenint has built a robust platform for growth at The Hive and will expand further in the near future. Sara now manages the business so that its founders can refocus their energies on their specialisms, namely developing clever technology and innovative solutions to client problems.
Sara says, “We’re considering extending our activities into the later stages of product development and manufacture, a move that’s fuelled by client demand.” The company has already grown into the largest footprint it can have at The Hive, and so taking up much more space here may not be feasible as it’s designed to house many small rather than a few rapidly growing businesses. Sara is not fazed by this, saying, “We love what we have at The Hive. When we ultimately get as big as we can here, we’ll investigate how to supplement our footprint here rather than moving our core activities from The Hive. As a growing small tech company we’re happy here and it serves us very well. We may just end up with two complimentary sets of offices.”
Xenint has previously supported apprentices on behalf of its clients. As the company grows, it wants to work with local STEM colleges to offer on-the-job training opportunities and apprenticeships. It’s also keen to establish relationships with local universities.
Sara’s ‘Hive Five’ highlights
- Easy configuration of office space to enable growth
- Availability of in-house expertise
- Managed services and facilities such as kitchens and access to catering
- Location, close to the M5 and the region’s tech cluster
- The professionalism of The Hive’s team