The West of England is known as a region for having a strong culture of enterprise with a high and growing number of start-ups and a thriving SME sector.
In recognition of this the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is pioneering one of the first University Enterprise Zones (UEZ) in the country on its main Frenchay Campus in north 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 the UK’s largest robotics laboratory, the 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.
Over the last five years the university has been able to support over 1,000 SMES in the region through a combination of BIS and European funding supporting new product development and jobs.
The aim with the UEZ is to provide a flexible and upgradable space that serves every stage of business growth. It will also be able to reduce costs for small companies through shared facilities. The 4,100 square metre facility being converted from a former HP research facility will provide space for up to 70 businesses and will be close to the heart of the University’s Frenchay Campus. The building will provide both individual and shared laboratory space, offices and workshops, shared start-up ‘studio’ space, communal space for networking and meeting, access to specialist equipment and technical support and business services.
Construction will be completed in summer 2016 with the UEZ open for business in the autumn.
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.