Second phase of innovation hub Engine Shed on track as Govt pledges £18m more for Bristol

January 29, 2015

Bristol’s pioneering business incubator Engine Shed is to be expanded as part of a £18.1m increase in Government funding for the West of England announced this week.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited the hi-tech building at Temple Meads on Thursday to announce the funding, which will also go towards upgrading the area’s broadband and easing traffic congestion.

The money will go to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to fund the projects and is in addition to the £213m Growth Deal to boost the West of England economy pledged last July.

Initial plans for  Engine Shed 2 – which will receive £4m – could triple the amount of incubation and grow-on space available for hi-tech, social, creative and digital businesses in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone around Temple Meads railway station.

Engine Shed phase 1, a £1.7m refurbishment of Brunel’s original train station, opened just over a year ago and is now full. A unique collaboration between the University of Bristol, the LEP and Bristol City Council, it created 128 jobs and contributed £8m to the West’s economy in its first 12 months.

Nick Sturge, director of Engine Shed and the Bristol SETsquared Centre which is housed there, introduced Nick Clegg to nine fast-growing SETsquared businesses: Neighbourly, Fusion Processing, Systems4Silicon, BluWireless Technology, Ultrahaptics, Kubla, FundSurfer, CameraForensics and IdeaSquares.

SETsquared is the highly-successful business incubator backed by the a number of universities including Bristol. Last year it was named as the joint best centre of its kind in Europe by the University Business Incubator.

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson and LEP vice chairs Robert Sinclair and Cllr Paul Crossley also met Mr Clegg during his whistle-stop tour of Engine Shed to hammer home the message that the West needs more powers – and funding – to be devolved from Whitehall to allow its economic expansion to continue, particularly in its high-growth creative, tech and environmental sectors.

The new funding will also go towards extending superfast broadband across the area, which suffers from poor coverage in many places, and to pay for improvements at roundabouts at Aztec West and Crow Lane near Cribbs Causeway and at West Wick, Weston-super-Mare.

However, a number of schemes on the LEP’s wish-list submitted to the Government last year remain unfunded including an expansion of the Bristol & Bath Science Park and a national food & drink technology centre. The LEP described these today as in its pipeline.

Mr Skellett said: “We are delighted that Government continue to reaffirm that the West of England is an economic powerhouse and that we have a strong and ambitious long term economic plan with strong projects that will deliver economic growth.

“We welcome this additional tranche of funding and together with other sources of public and private funding we will bring forward as many of our projects as possible.

“We look forward to future rounds of the growth fund where we will be pushing hard to ensure we secure more funding so that our programme is fully delivered.”

Cllr Crossley, who also chairs the LEP’s Strategic Leaders Board and is also leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, added: “We welcome this further recognition from Government that our local priorities and ambition resonate with Government’s vision to deliver economic growth.  We will work together with all local partners to ensure delivery of our exciting programme.”

Mr Sturge said: “We now look forward to working with the LEP, Bristol City Council and Government to deliver further growth, through Engine Shed 2. We will deliver this as soon as possible to meet the demand for innovative, flexible and curated space. Bristol & Bath really is THE most exciting place to be right now.”

Engine Shed tenants also include the LEP, Invest Bristol & Bath, WebStart Bristol and DigiCity co-working space. It holds regular events for Bristol’s tech and creative communities and is a hub for the Institute of Directors.

Schemes in the LEP’s pipeline include:

  • Bath Innovation Phase 2 – the provision of incubator and grow on space for hi-tech and creative and digital media businesses.
  • Bristol and Bath Science Park Grow-on Space phase 1 – expansion of Bristol and Bath Science Park, providing grow-on space including hybrid workshop and wet and dry labs.
  • Food & Drink Technology Centre phase 1 – A Centre of Excellence for Food and Drink Industries which brings together expertise ranging from biotechnology to engineering; chemistry to design that strives to excel in food research, production, manufacturing and resource efficiency.
  • IAero – Advanced Technology Centre phase 1 – working collaboratively with a broad range of global aerospace customers and suppliers to establish an advanced technology virtual centre.
  • Quantum Technologies Hub – transforming pioneering research at the University of Bristol and the city-region’s successful semiconductor companies into commercial opportunities.
  • Minor transport schemes – provision of new and improved highway infrastructure, more efficient network management.
  • Bristol Aerospace Centre – Aerospace museum which will showcase Bristol’s innovation, design and engineering past, present and future linked to  learning and outreach opportunities aimed at inspiring school children to take up STEM subjects.
  • Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Media Bank – Will enable the tourism and cultural sector to deposit and withdraw images, audio and video material from a media bank.

Pictured: Nick Clegg during his visit to Engine Shed this morning with Nick Sturge, operations manager Karen Drake, left, and venue manager Lorraine Fairbanks. Photo by Jon Craig


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