Uni Enterprise Zone supports over 100 innovation start-ups and adds £17m to Bristol economy

Future Space Bristol

More than 100 innovative businesses have been supported by Future Space, launched just five years ago in 2016 by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), a new report has revealed.

Managed for the university by Oxford Innovation, Future Space provides office space, labs, workshops, and co-working space at the heart of the University’s main Frenchay Campus. 

One of four University Enterprise Zones (UEZ) set up nationally, it was intended to build bridges between innovative, fast growth businesses, academic researchers, and students, sparking new ideas and opportunities.

This new report reveals that the UEZ has supported more than 100 innovative businesses to create 240 new products and services in the region. Between them, the businesses located at the UEZ have raised almost £45m in finance, created 427 jobs and contributed almost £17m to the local economy.

Future Space businesses include university spinouts, student start-ups as well as high tech, science-based businesses attracted from across the UK and internationally. The team behind the space took home the Community Award at last year’s local SPARKies Awards, recognising their contribution to the Bristol tech cluster.

More than 40 UWE Bristol students have completed internships with these businesses, and more than 20 UWE Bristol graduates have gone on to be employed on a permanent basis.

The news comes shortly after Bristol was named the most innovative city in the UK outside of London, while UWE Bristol was named on a list of universities in the UK that have produced the most start-ups.

As well as demonstrating the key role Future Space has played in powering innovation in the region, the report highlights that this success has been achieved due to close collaboration with their members, with UWE Bristol, and with their neighbours the Bristol Robotics Lab and the Health Tech Hub.

Jo Stevens, Managing Director for Oxford Innovation, said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of growth in the UK, and Future Space is a great example of the impact that can be achieved through real collaboration between academia and business.

“We can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.”

Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol: “UWE Bristol is particularly proud of Future Space, the businesses it supports and the links that we have built between leading-edge, high-tech businesses, university researchers and our students.

We’re committed to working with and supporting businesses across the region, and Future Space has enabled us to do that on a much deeper level and with real impact.

Future Space has provided many excellent opportunities for our students and the wider community. Joint research has created innovation and jobs, and it has played a huge part in us championing and driving innovation across the region

Indus Fusion – from start-up incubator to health tech innovator

One of the businesses supported by Future Space is Indus Fusion, which hit the headlines recently for its innovative vaccine preparation device. Co-Founder of the business, Arthur Keeling, started out as a student at UWE Bristol where he studied on the Team Entrepreneurship course for three years.

“This course allows you to learn everything you need to set up and run a business alongside your studies.” Arthur says. “When I left university, I wanted to try out a few of the business ideas that I had. Because of the connection between UWE Bristol and Future Space I was able to join the Launch Space incubator programme and get one-to-one mentoring and support to develop these ideas.

“Once we’d developed our ideas into a clear business plan, we were able to apply for funding and investment, which enabled us to grow. We moved into Future Space permanently, where we were able to tap into support from the Bristol Robotics Lab to scope out ideas and access equipment.”

Indus Fusion is now focusing on how automation can improve the service in sectors such as food, health and care. Their automated vaccine preparation device is currently being tested in NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinics, with early trials indicating a 40 per cent increase in roll-out capacity.