Bristol’s Engine Shed innovation centre on track to attract investment to city

July 31, 2013

The first businesses have moved into the Engine Shed, Bristol’s new innovation hub which is taking shape in part of Brunel’s original Temple Meads railway station.

To co-incide with the arrival of the 16 firms – all members of Bristol University’s SETsquared business incubator – minister for culture, communications and creative industries Ed Vaizey visited the Grade I listed building.

Mr Vaizey, accompanied by the Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, saw the work taking place to transform the building through a £1.7m investment and collaboration between the university and the city council.

The 16 SETsquared businesses now have 60 staff based in premium serviced offices on the building’s top floor. The Engine Shed is the latest building in the area around Temple Meads to be upgraded as part of ambitious plans to transform the historic station into a state-of-the-art transport hub and gateway to the city as well as kickstarting work on the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

As well as a very visible sign that innovation is key to Bristol and the Enterprise Zone, the Engine Shed will also have a role in attracting inward investment to the city as the headquarters for the recently-launched Invest in Bristol and Bath.

Pictured: From left, Nick Sturge, Ed Vaizey, George Ferguson and Stephen Hilton, city council director of futures

The office will accommodate representatives from the four West of England unitary authority areas – Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset – and act as a ‘shopfront’ for potential investors in the region.

Mr Vaizey said: “The university and city council are to be congratulated on this brilliant transformation of this historic building. The Engine Shed, as Bristol’s newest business and innovation hub, will be instrumental in helping to drive growth and is a most welcome addition to the new Enterprise Zone.”

Work to transform the Engine Shed is set to finish by mid-October, when it will open as the focal point for Bristol’s drive to generate inward investment, encouraging a new generation of high-growth businesses.

Plans for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone include the city’s long-awaited and much-delayed indoor arena, new public spaces and a vibrant business, commercial and shopping district.

The 173-acre site around Temple Meads station is expected to create 17,000 jobs and bring 400 companies to the city over the next two decades.

Mayor Ferguson said: “This is an important day for The Engine Shed, showing the Enterprise Zone is really getting to work for the Bristol and Bath city region.  It will provide a shop window for the whole project, which brings together the public, private and academic sectors to encourage business growth across the region. 

“We’re demonstrating how to make such an ambitious project work and it will mean much more local investment over coming years.  I’m very grateful to the Bristol SETsquared Centre and the University of Bristol for taking this bold first step and setting a great example for other organisations to follow.”

Core to the Engine Shed will be a business lounge and co-working and collaboration spaces for academics, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and business leaders.

SETsquared and Engine Shed director Nick Sturge said the transfer of businesses from the previous base at the university in Clifton was a ‘significant milestone’ which marked a new chapter in SETsquared’s growth.

“It is also a milestone for the city region – a demonstration of multiple partners, private and public, working together to a common goal utilising the assets, skills and ambition that we have in abundance. 

“This has been a fast-track project and we have taken many risks in getting to where we are, but that’s what being entrepreneurial is all about.”

The Bristol SETsquared Centre accelerates early stage, hi-tech, high-growth businesses and has helped its members raise more than £85m since 2007 and create 650-plus jobs. Having previously won two national awards from trade body UKBI, the SETsquared Partnership, of which the Bristol centre is a part, was recently ranked fourth best business incubator in the world and best in Europe.


Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Bristol for just £120 a month. Email for more information.