Issue date: 03 July 2014
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today announced that UWE Bristol has won government funding to set up one of four 'University Enterprise Zones' to be supported by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The Enterprise Zone will provide a business 'hatchery', incubation and grow on space for businesses specialising in robotics, biosciences, biomedicine and other high tech areas. It has been developed in collaboration with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Bristol with strong support from South Gloucestershire Council, the University of Bath and the West of England Academic Health Science Network.
Located on the University's Frenchay Campus in former HP Lab buildings the Zone will promote university-business collaboration, provide space for new and growing businesses, access to specialist facilities and expertise, and business support. The £16.5m project is supported by £4m from the government with match-funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership, business and UWE Bristol itself. The Zone is expected to generate over 500 new jobs, and generate more than £50m for the local economy. The 4,000 square metre building will provide laboratory space, offices and workshops, share start-up 'studio' space, communal space for networking and meeting, access to specialist equipment and technical support and business services.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement at UWE, Professor Martin Boddy who led the project for the University commented, “The University has a strong track record of working with a whole range of partners to support innovation, business growth and the skills to meet business needs through innovation networks, knowledge transfer partnerships, the i4G Growth Fund and other initiatives.
“The University Enterprise Zone now provides a tremendously exciting opportunity to build on this success with a new venture that will help to drive forwards the major cluster of high growth, innovative, technology-based businesses in the West of England. This is one of a small number of national 'pilot' projects which provides the opportunity to demonstrate how collaboration between business and universities can drive innovation, jobs and business growth.
“This will be much more than just a building. It will provide access to the sorts of facilities and expertise that would otherwise be out of reach for new and growing businesses, it will provide 'wet labs' – currently a real gap in the market, it will promote collaboration and networking between businesses, university researchers, students and graduates and there will be dedicated business support and services from the University, Bristol Business School and partner organisations. It will complement Bristol and Bath Science Park, the LEP Enterprise Zone and Enterprise Areas and the Engine Shed Incubation Centre at Temple Quay and Bath Innovation Centre – together these provide a fantastically rich and fertile ecosystem to support business growth and innovation across the whole city-region.”
West of England LEP chair, Colin Skellett, said, “The Government's support for the proposal from the University of the West of England and University of Bristol to establish a University Enterprise Zone with £4m of additional funding is extremely welcome, and recognition of the strengths our region offers. This will create opportunities for greater university-business collaboration, providing grow-on and incubator space alongside leading-edge university research and R&D facilities.
"The West of England is being seen more and more as a leader in a number of areas, including robotics, high tech, creative and digital innovation, which also form a key part of our strategic economic plan. The University Enterprise Zone very much compliments our plan."