Work underway on 'University Enterprise Zone'

Issue date: 02 February 2016


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Construction work has started on one of the first University Enterprise Zones (UEZ) in the country at UWE Bristol.

The West of England University Enterprise Zone is one of four to be supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The West of England UEZ will provide a business 'hatchery', incubation and grow on space for businesses specialising in robotics, biosciences, biomedicine and other high tech areas.The UEZ will assist high technology high growth companies in the fields of robotics and autonomous systems, Biosciences, Health sciences and related sectors.

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 alongside Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the UEZ will promote university-business collaboration, provide space for new and growing businesses, access to specialist facilities and expertise, and business support.

The 4,100 square metre facility is being converted by main contractor BAM Construct UK, who recently carried out the build of the new Students' Union building on Frenchay Campus. Construction will be completed in summer 2016 with the UEZ open for business in September.

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 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 theEngine 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.”

Oxford Innovation Limited is the preferred supplier to operate and manage the UEZ. Chris Allington, managing director for Oxford Innovation, said, “We are thrilled to be working with UWE Bristol to deliver their vision for the UEZ. We will be drawing on experience from our network of 20 innovation centres to curate a unique environment that stimulates growth in existing businesses, forges new connections between business and the university and facilitates some exciting new businesses.”

For more information and to enquire about the facilities and support on offer, visit http://uwe.oxin-centres.co.uk/uez-launch/or call 0117 428 0200.

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