Scale Up 4 Growth launches funding programme in Gloucestershire with £1m of grants available to help the region’s SMEs scale and grow

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Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G), a funding and support programme that brings together experts from the UWE Bristol, NatWest and Gloucestershire College, will deliver grant funding and support to businesses in Gloucestershire. 

The programme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund, is open to businesses in any sector with ambitious growth plans. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in the Gloucestershire LEP Region: Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Stroud and Cotswolds.

Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available to help address the challenges that Gloucestershire businesses face when growing and scaling up their operations. The grants will cover 35% of business’ costs.

Dedicated support from a team of experts at UWE Bristol will be given to help businesses develop project ideas and submit grant applications.

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “UWE Bristol is proud to be supporting SMES in Gloucestershire. This programme aims to stimulate the regional economy at such an important time by helping companies to realise their potential. The S4G programme in the West of England has supported over 80 companies, giving out £850,000 in grants and creating 150 jobs. Gloucestershire is full of innovation and we are thrilled to be able to bring this scheme to the region.”

Andy Bates, Vice Principal and Chief Financial Officer at Gloucestershire College said: “Our job at Gloucestershire College is to help local businesses to grow. For years, Gloucestershire College has been enabling this growth as the go-to training provider for employers in the county to develop their staff, hire new talent and strengthen their organisation with quality training.

We are thrilled to be partnering with UWE Bristol and NatWest to now bring £1m worth of capital into Gloucestershire, acting as a catalyst for growth, innovation and progression. The S4G scheme has already been a great success in the West of England and now we are bringing it to the SMEs of Gloucestershire.

There is no doubt that the last year has been challenging for businesses but we are committed to helping Gloucestershire come back stronger. This is the time to innovate and I urge employers to use the S4G scheme to level up for their future.”

Mike West, Director, Commercial Banking NatWest, Gloucestershire, said: “Building on the success of S4Gprogramme in the West of England, we are delighted to be working in partnership with UWE Bristol and Gloucestershire College to support ambitious businesses across our Gloucestershire region access this growth funding and leading business support.”

S4G launches on Monday 1 March 2021. Applications for funding will close on Wednesday 5 May 2021. For more information and to register your interest please visit www.scaleup4growth.co.uk.


Notes to editors

European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive up to £1.4m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Gloucestershire LEP Region: Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Forest of Dean Stroud and Cotswolds.

Access to Justice: Open Source LegalTech Hackathon 19, 24 and 31 March

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How do we use technology better to help those that need it most? 

The Challenge

Bringing the legal industry together with third sector, technologists and innovators, to rapidly design ideas on how we can purposefully use open source technology to ensure access to justice for all. We are calling for SMEs in the West of England to be part of an event that will rapidly prototype solutions for improved legal opportunities and legal service outreach. Together we will build a collaborative community that is focussed on solving problems for all.

Why Access to Justice?

The pandemic is widening the justice gap, with a sharp increase in the problems that many people face at a time when it is harder to get legal support. It has exacerbated many justice issues for those in vulnerable groups and low-income communities who are hardest hit by job or rental insecurity, homelessness and eviction, cybercrime and reduced access to criminal justice systems – now more than ever there are more people needing access to legal advice and help with understanding their rights.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a competition, usually held over the course of a couple of days. It is a collaboration between small teams of business people and software developers to develop a product, service or platform that addresses a specific challenge. It is an opportunity for people with a common goal to come together to harness their ideas and build solutions for the future. We will bring together the growing legaltech community across the West of England area and take this diverse group through a creative design sprint process to rapidly develop and prototype ideas/demonstrators.

The event culminates in a pitching competition before a panel of judges, who score the pitches along the challenge criteria and select a winner. We will run workshops to help participants can learn more about the subject of the challenge and the capabilities of open source – in our case, justice, legal services, lawtech and using open source technologies to enable access to justice.

We are inviting registrations from SMEs across the region who deliver justice, advice, support, technology, business and innovation. Spaces are limited, so register now. Participation in the hackathon is by selection. Registration does not guarantee a place. We will notify the final participants separately by email.

SMEs: Register here

If you are not an SME or you are not based in the West of England but you wish to be part of the LegalTech hackathon delivery or to join the wider network, please contact Thanh Quan-Nicholls Thanh.quan-nicholls@uwe.ac.uk to discuss this further or register here.

How to take part and Key Dates

  • Sign up to the Open Source LegalTech Hackathon here.
  • You will need to commit to all three days plus a minimum of 4 hours working as a remote team on your legaltech solution during that week.
  • You will need a computer or laptop with a camera, internet access, ability to download meeting apps and file sharing software such as Zoom, MS Teams, Github, Slack etc and somewhere to work where you won’t disturb others.
  • Each team will have a mentor who will help organise, support prototyping and problem solve any issues.
  • Hackathon Days: 19 March, 24 March and 31 March, 9:30am – 1.30pm

View the full hackathon guidance here.

This event is delivered by the Digital Innovation Fund and funded by the ERDF for the benefit of SMEs in the West of England. We will be guiding SMEs and Social Enterprises through the enterprise innovation and ideation process, creative design sprints and agile working practices to support new product design, improve resource efficiency and R&D activities. Your attendance at this event will count towards to State Aid and by participating, you are agreeing to ERDF business support and accompanying documentation


European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit here.

West of England region: All organisations with a presence in Bristol, Bath, BANES and South Gloucestershire.

Exciting Professional Development Courses available from the Centre for Fine Print Research this summer

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Exciting Professional Development Courses available from the Centre for Fine Print Research this summer

This summer, the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at UWE Bristol will be offering up some of its experts for some professional development courses open to the public.

Take a look below for previews of some of the available courses. The full course list can be found here:

1, 2 & 3 section compendium of bookbinding skills for publishing practice

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 14 – 15 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

In this two-day workshop practicing binders will learn new techniques and methods to enhance their repertoire in an approachable manner suitable for those just beginning to hone their skills. Using modified pamphlet stitches, chain stitches, and flexible long-stitch bindings, students will craft a series of book structures that are refined, easily adaptable, and suitable for editioning text and visual content.

Find out more and book here.

Japanese Scroll (maki-mono) & Accordion (ori-hon) Book Making 

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 22-23 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

This is an intensive two-day workshop learning the traditional Japanese art of scroll making. This structure is the oldest form of book in Japan, combining washi (mulberry paper), nori (rice paste) and cloth. Over the two days you will learn the techniques of backing cloth with paper to create book cloth using the urauchi method, alongside the skills to attach sections of paper or prints together to create invisible, seamless pages stretching for meters, bound with silk ribbon. The materials used for the scroll are all archival and sourced in Japan. The traditional processes taught on this workshop will allow you to use these skills in contemporary book arts projects. This workshop is being hosted exclusively for Centre for Fine Print Research.

Find out more and book here.

Platinum/Palladium Workshop

  • Course duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 23-27 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Platinum printing is the aristocracy of the early photographic processes. The image is composed of very finely divided platinum and palladium metals that are more stable and longer lasting than silver based prints. Developed first in the 1860s and 1870s, the technique became very popular with fine art printers because of its very delicate highlights and mid-tones. This Workshop offers demonstrations and hands-on opportunity to explore this classic printing technique. No prior experience is necessary.

Find out more and book your place here.

Preparing Digital Negatives – including QuadTone RIP

  • Course duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 02-06 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

This workshop will show you how to use your digital images to make inkjet transparencies for contact printing using the genuine early photographic processes. There will be opportunities during the workshop to make cyanotypes (aka blueprints), salt and kallitype prints from your own images and on art papers of your choice. The workshop will enable participants to prepare digital negatives – printed on transparency film via desk-tip inkjet printers – for use with a wide variety of these processes, including cyanotype, platinum, Van Dyke, carbon and photogravure printing.

Course participants will not need prior experience with early photographic printing, but some familiarity with Photoshop or other image manipulation software would be helpful.

Find out more and book your place here.

Japanese Water-based Woodcut Printmaking (Mokuhanga)

  • Course Duration: 3 Days
  • Dates: 19 – 21 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £349.00 full price / £279.00 concessionary price

During this immersive three-day workshop, you will be introduced to the traditional Japanese art of woodblock printing. Mokuhanga is perfect for anyone interested in a non-toxic, table-top printmaking technique. Over the course of the three days, you will learn the skills to transfer an image to Japanese plywood and carve various colour separation blocks in relief, following in the tradition of Japanese Ukiyo-e printing. With no mechanical press required, only a hand held ‘baren’, you will learn the techniques to achieve various print effects, from ‘sesame printing’ to ‘bokashi’ (gradation), while registering your multi-block image through the simple but brilliant traditional ‘kento’ registration system. You will be sure to fall in love with both the process and results of this accessible, meditative, water-based printmaking method which provides endless possibilities.

Find out more and book your place here.

Photogravure: An Early Photographic Printing Process with a Modern Twist

  • Course Duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 06 – 10 September 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, sometimes almost sterile appearance of modern digital images. The early photographic processes (aka alternative photography) require a real hands-on approach in the choice of paper, chemistry and coating, and provide every opportunity for the printmaker to produce individual and beautifully aesthetic work.

This five-day course will introduce course delegates to all the key aspects of the process. Delegates will be able to make gravure prints from at least three of their own photographic images, using film negatives, photographic prints or digital files. This course is suitable for beginners and no prior experience of intaglio printing or Photoshop (a computer program for editing digital images) is required. All materials will be provided.

Find out more and book your place here.

MOT’ing your art practice

  • Course duration: 2 Days
  • Date: 18-19 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 Full £199.00 concessionary price.

Suitable for practicing artists at any stage of development, creating in any format, willing to share something of themselves and their output with honesty and humour.

Over the two days Emma will introduce a series of practical tools with which to unpack, reflect upon and repack your art practice. By the end of the course, you will have a deeper understanding of what it is you do and why you do it. You will be able to talk with more fluidity about your output, ride the ups and downs of fluctuating motivation and feel more confident about managing your own development going forward.  

Find out more and book here.

Poetic Artists’ Books

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 11-12 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

Join Jeremy Dixon, the poet and artist’s book maker, for two days of inspirational, practical work devoted to producing your own unique poetic artists’ book. We will examine artists’ books long association with poetry and how such books can reflect, amplify and/or become the themes of the poetry they contain. We will use an eclectic range of poetic and practical bookmaking techniques including concrete poetry, erasure poetry, Found poetry, collage, pamphlets, zines, stab binding and collaboration to create new and exciting work. This will be an energetic, practical two days looking at words and poetry in fun and inclusive ways, and aims to give participants the confidence and techniques to find new ways of using words and poetry in their own practice.

Find out more and book here.

Early Photographic Printing Processes

  • Course Duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 20 -24 September 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, perhaps almost sterile, appearance of modern digital images. This course will introduce participants to five important early processes and participants will be able to make at least one print with each processe using their own images. Materials and equipment are provided, all that is necessary is to bring along those special images ready to be made into stunning and unique prints.

Find out more and book your place here

Tetra Pak Printmaking

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Date: 4– 5August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 Full £199.00 concessionary price.

With its layers of paperboard, polyethylene, aluminum foil, Tetra Pak; offers not only an immediacy which other collagraph materials lack, but also a satisfying tactility when cutting, scoring, peeling and printing with this distinctive material. During this two-day introductory workshop into Tetra Pak collagraph print, the course tutor, Stephen Fowler, will facilitate the exploration of intaglio and relief print, a combination of the two processes, and the potential of mutli-plate printing.  On day two there will be time to play, create and develop your own body of prints. 

Find out more and book here.


The courses have very limited numbers so book now to avoid disappointment.

The Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol functions as a platform for innovative multidisciplinary research investigating creative practice through historical, scientific and industrial exchange. The research outputs of the Centre range from education, publication, collaboration and small-scale productions in all aspects of print history, practice, manufacturing and materials. Working with industry the Centre inspires cross pollination adding value by offering a unique creative perspective, enabling a practice led space for problem-solving experimentation.

UWE Bristol Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project selected to be showcased on EU Innovation Radar Website

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The Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project has been recognised by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar team has an Innovation Highlight and will be showcased on their website.

The project, which follows on from the Living Architecture research programme, is a joint venture between UWE Bristol, Newcastle University and Translating Nature.

The aim of ALICE is to introduce and familiarise sustainably-minded promotors such as architects, designers, engineers, “green” businesses and their clients, to advocate the use live microbes as processors of waste within our homes and cities.

ALICE aims to provide a publicly accessible interface that is activated by household waste, namely urine and grey water. It exploits the properties of the integrated bioreactor system developed for the Living Architecture (LIAR) project. Creating a useable context and habitat that can be exhibited at biennales or festivals and explored by these audiences. ALICE catalyses a conversation about the future of sustainability in homes and public buildings, as well as the lifestyle changes implicit in adopting this new generation of utilities.

ALICE is a highly personal experience where ‘users’ may understand how waste can be dealt with differently in the home by putting it to good use. ALICE takes the form of a cabin and through a digital interface that translates data into graphical animations, participants will be able to see how their waste ‘enlivens’ the cabin’s performance. For example, turning on LEDs, or charging small mobile devices.

Conceptually, ALICE may be likened to the ‘tamagotchi pet’, a digital toy that flourishes through the owner’s digital care and attention. In this way, ‘care’ for ALICE is through its feeding and engagement with audiences. The system will also collect data that will help the innovators better understand the performance and potential usage of such a system outside the laboratory space so that appropriate prototypes for market can be developed.

UWE Bristol lead for the project Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor of Bioenergy and Self-Sustainable Systems and Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, commented on the project: We are delighted for this recognition by the European Commission, which is an important milestone in our endeavour to make this technology widely available. The work of our partners has enabled the successfully translation of a complex technology into a visual representation that is highly appealing to a wide audience and this could have only been achieved through open-minded collaboration. We very much look forward to seeing this installed in everyone’s home.

Congratulations to Ioannis and the team for the recognition of their project.

UWE Bristol selected to deliver Small Business Leadership Programme – spaces available!

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UWE Bristol have been selected to deliver the Small Business Leadership Programme with the first cohort starting in January. Spaces are available but limited, so book now to avoid disappointment.

The Small Business Leadership Programme supports senior leaders to enhance their business’s resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19. It helps small and medium-sized businesses to develop their potential for future growth and productivity.

The fully-funded 10 week programme will be delivered online by small business and enterprise experts from world-leading business schools.

Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.

To join the Small Business Leadership Programme, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Your business must be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England
  • Your business needs to employ between 5 and 249 people and have been operational for at least one year
  • The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business with at least one person reporting directly to them
  • The participant must be able to commit to attending the full programme
  • A maximum of 2 individuals form any one organisation may attend

Our four cohorts will start on the following dates, with the full dates available on the registration page:

Cohort 1 – start date Monday 11 January 2021, 13.00 – 14.30
Cohort 2 – start date Tuesday 12 January 2021, 15.00 – 16.30
Cohort 3 – start date Monday 18 January 2021, 17.30 – 19.00
Cohort 4 – start date Tuesday 19 January 2021, 09.30 – 11.00

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “The strength of small businesses up and down the country will be vital as we begin to bounce back from coronavirus and re-build our economy. The Small Business Leadership Programme will help to equip small business leaders with the leadership and problem-solving skills they need to grow their firms in the wake of this pandemic.” 

Find out more here

Knowledge Transfer Partnership company Flexys signs multi-year deal with Bamboo

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One of our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) companies, Flexys signs multi-year deal with personal loans provider, Bamboo.

Flexys provides modular, highly scalable and extensible debt management, collection and recovery solutions for the digital age. Their cloud-native solutions maximise operational efficiency, reduce the cost to collect and ensure that they deliver the best possible customer service while protecting your business from reputational and regulatory risk.

Flexys Solutions is based at the Future Space Innovation Hub, part of our University Enterprise Zone and employs over 20 people, most of whom are working from home for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexys has experienced a period of significant growth this year as lockdown fuels a surge in digital engagement and a move to cloud-native technology.

Bamboo are a direct lender who have built their business around helping people find an affordable loan that fits your credit situation.

Flexys CEO, Jon Hickman said “We are very proud to have secured this multi-year partnership with Bamboo. The economic consequences of the pandemic have put debt management in the spotlight and we have seen a surge in demand for our smart, cloud-native systems. Every new client helps us to expand our business and to promote Bristol as the ideal location for innovative technology businesses.”

Our KTP with Flexys aims to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology within debt resolution software, to enable more effective management of debt resolution and improvement of customer relationships and retention.

A KTP scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. With the help of graduate talent and access to UWE Bristol academic expertise, a KTP can help your business to transform and solve problems to achieve goals.

To find out more about KTPs please visit our website.

UWE Bristol signs open letter calling for clarity and transparency on the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund

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UWE Bristol, as part of the University Alliance (UA), has signed an open letter, alongside over 70 organisations from across the UK, calling for clarity and transparency on the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to avoid vital support disappearing when existing programmes end in 2023.

EU Structural Funds have been a key enabler of collaboration between universities and business, used to support and develop communities and regions; whether through programmes that have increased employment and skills, or through initiatives to drive forward research, innovation and enterprise.

Director of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol Tracey John said:

EU Structural Funds play a vital role in helping us achieve our ambitious goals for helping businesses within the region.

As a university we have won £13m of EU Structural Funds since 2017, allowing us to leverage £14m of company investment in research and innovation. This in turn has enabled us to help countless SMEs within the region, creating hundreds of new jobs, products and services.

One of the beneficiaries of our funding is 299 Lighting. Talking at an event for companies who have been awarded grants from UWE Bristol, they explained “the funding allowed us to expand our business to the next level… setting up our own manufacturing in Bristol and grow our team and own the product range”. Talking at the same event, The Real Olive Company explained that funding “brought everything into focus and helped us push forward with projects and ideas.”

Without a timely replacement of the funds, we are putting at risk many of the projects and schemes that we run for businesses in the region, which will have a direct impact on the region’s economy, particularly during such times of economic uncertainty.”

University Alliance Chief Executive Vanessa Wilson said:

“EU structural funds have been a vital mechanism for universities to support businesses and communities – especially throughout the pandemic. Details of their replacement, the UKSPF, have been promised but not delivered, and time is running out as we approach the end of the Brexit transition period.

“University and business leaders want to work constructively and proactively with the Government now to address the current economic challenges and reduce inequalities between regions. Given the uncertainty ahead, it has never been more important to deliver the UKSPF, which will be a vehicle for the much-needed long-term planning and investment needed to level-up the nation.”

UWE Bristol is committed to supporting economic development in the region and full supports the need for clarity around these funds.

Follow this link to read the open letter from UA.

Follow this link to find out more about our funds.

Top Tips for Bid Writing for Innovation Funds

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Thanh Quan-Nicholls, our Digital Innovation Lead says that there has been a meteoric rise in the availability of grants for business innovation but they can be difficult to navigate.  She has spoken to many companies this year because we provided 121 support for companies looking to apply for grants to schemes such as the Digital Innovation Fund.  There are common themes that come up so, here are her top tips:

     1. Make sure you have an innovative idea

For lean disruptive start-ups, embedding innovation is natural, but for others, it requires a change in mindset or culture. Make sure you explore future technologies, new business models and innovative design.  With customer needs changing fast, it’s a great time to be looking at new ways to apply existing technologies, creating new services or products, and developing disruptive business ideas.  Innovation funding provided by the public sector is intended to widen knowledge, further capabilities and bring economic growth. 

     2. Explain your innovation

If you are close to your project, it can be hard to explain why your idea is novel. Get help to apply a critical eye to your application. To be credible, you should become an expert in your field. The bid will be reviewed by industry experts, so there is no shortcut to doing your research: identify competitors and similar products, know your market or sector, understand your technology and why you are breaking new ground. 

     3. Be positive

Remember that this is an exercise in persuasive writing to convince your audience of your great idea.  You want to excite them and get them to support your project.  For grant funding, this is not just about the end user or customer, the funder wants to know that you are delivering wider impacts. There is no room for doubt – be bold, be optimistic and describe your innovation idea in a way that excites your reader. 

     4. Demonstrate your capabilities

To demonstrate that you can deliver, get your financial information ready, have a team with the right skills, and show that you understand your route to market. Gaps here will seriously jeopardise your chances of being funded. Increase your chances of success by assessing your capabilities objectively and mitigate any weaknesses.

     5. Read the guidance & answer the questions

Some people fail to answer the specifics of the questions being asked.  Avoid this pitfall by reading the guidance closely.  Your application will be read and scored by reviewers who are working to an assessment criteria. Targeting your answer will ensure that you will maximise your score.

     6. Give yourself enough time

Quality applications benefit from time and effort. Remember to give yourself enough time to fine tune your bid. Get team members with differing strengths involved at different stages.  

If you don’t understand the jargon or processes, most funders will be happy to talk to you.  It might not be obvious, but funders want to give away their money!  They are keen to get applications that are innovative, exciting, impactful and deliverable.  

     7. Find the right fund for your project

There are many funds out there – nationally and locally.  

The chances of succeeding can vary depending on how many applications are submitted and how high the standards are across the board.  As a rule, there is more competition for national or larger funds than smaller, local funds.  Assess your chances wisely. There is no single list because these funds are short-lived and change constantly. You need to sign up to bulletins and newsletters, and be ready to take advantage of the next opportunity.  

And finally, it’s important to recognise that receiving funding takes time and energy.  In most cases, companies are signing up to a reporting back process beyond the life of their project. But the recipe for success is about matching the right project with the right fund, taking time to prepare a strong application and avoid the common pitfalls.

Win or lose, there are intangible benefits of bid writing – businesses say that going through an application process helps them to clarify their own proposition.  And often companies who get funding once, go on to receive more. Many will use the same skills to attract further investment.

So, if you are thinking about delivering innovative projects, don’t miss out. Have a look at what support you can get – there is plenty out there!

Thanh Quan-Nicholls is lead for UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund. Round 2 is now open,  closing to applications on 18 November 2020.  For more information and to register for an application pack visit:  www.digitalinnovationfund.co.uk.

UWE Research into the impact of driverless vehicles – Capri Project

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For the past three years researchers from the Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), have been involved in the Capri project, looking into the impact of autonomous vehicles. Dr Ian Shergold has given a summary of their recent findings in the post below:

Capri was a practical, evidence-led research project that has broadened the UK’s knowledge of the short, medium and long term impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) and helped inform the future direction of CAV development and implementation.

Capri was an industry-led consortium comprising 17 partners, including UWE, partly funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).  Funding was awarded though a competition to sponsor projects that would deliver technical solutions for CAV that provide real-world benefits to users as well as identifying commercial benefits. It has paved the way for the use of CAV to move people around locations such as airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres.

Capri ran from 2017-2020, and built on successful earlier research studies and live trials of autonomous vehicles involving UWE and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), namely the Venturer and Flourish projects.

The UWE team working on Capri was led by Graham Parkhurst, Professor of Sustainable Mobility and Director of the research Centre for Transport & Society (CTS) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Over the last three years he has been joined by colleagues in CTS, in particular Dr Daniela Paddeu and Dr Ian Shergold to carry out a range of social and behavioural research on CAV.

Over the three years of the study four different kinds of research have been undertaken.

  • The project began for CTS with focus groups to find out what members of the public think about the possible benefits and difficulties presented by autonomous shuttle pods, leading up to a one-day ‘codesign workshop’.  This event brought together over sixty members of the public, alongside technical experts and academics, to explore how systems based on pods might look, how they would operate and where they might be deployed.
  • The CTS team also undertook surveys of public willingness to use automated shuttles amongst users of two of the types of facility in which the vehicles could be deployed; a university campus and an airport.
  • The centrepiece of the project were the live demonstration trials in Bristol and London, where pods were safely run in fully autonomous mode. In Bristol the team undertook two experiments which were amongst the first of their kind, exploring how passenger perceptions of trust and comfort were influenced by where they sat in the vehicle, how fast it went, and whether there was a safety steward on board or not.
  • In London the team undertook observations and surveys with members of the public, not only those experiencing the vehicle, but also people who were interacting with it as pedestrians and cyclists in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Most people, throughout the research, showed good levels of trust in the technology, would be willing to use it, thought it could be useful to others as well, and depending on the circumstances, would be willing to pay to use it. We found people willing to share if services would remain convenient and safe.

There was also a wide range of social, environmental and practical concerns that need to be taken seriously, and to which the team do not yet have all the solutions.

However, the experiments showed that people became more favourable following an experience of actually riding in one of the shuttles. And this was particularly true for car drivers, who started off the most cautious of our participants, but became the most positive.

As to direction of face in the vehicle and how fast it went they found that trust in the system was slightly lower at a higher speed and when facing backwards to the direction of travel, so users are sensitive to the design of vehicle and the driving characteristics.

Interestingly though, people who travelled in a shuttle without a steward on board were just as trusting as those who travelled with one. This is an important finding as the whole point of an autonomous vehicle is that it doesn’t need onboard staff.

Although Capri has now finished, CTS and UWE research on autonomous vehicles continues through a project called MultiCAV, which is developing automated public transport vehicles for use on public roads. CTS are also part of a project called ‘Driverless Futures’ which is currently considering how the highway code would work if some road vehicles are driven by computer.

Over the course of the CAPRI project, over 650 members of the public contributed to the research. The team are grateful to them for their time and for sharing their views.

For anyone interested in finding out more about Capri and our work, please visit the online Capri ‘Virtual Museum‘ which has much more on the project and its results.

New book by Robin Hambleton on Cities and Communities Beyond COVID-19

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Robin Hambleton, Emeritus Professor of City Leadership, Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments in FET, has written an international book on Cities and communities beyond COVID-19. How local leadership can change our future for the better. 

Published by Bristol University Press on 16 October 2020 this forward-looking analysis, which builds on his previous book, Leading the Inclusive City, includes a detailed discussion of the Bristol One City ApproachMarvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, contributes a Foreword to the book.

Robin at the Learning City Exhibition at Hamilton House

Robin argues that modern urban strategies need to address four major challenges at once: the COVID-19 health emergency, a very sharp economic downturn arising from the pandemic, the climate emergency, and deep-seated social, economic and racial inequality. 

Robin comments: ‘Thanks to remarkable fast-tracking by Bristol University Press this book has been published in less than three months from submission of the manuscript.  I hope readers find that it is up to date and highly relevant to the pressing issues the country now faces’.

More information can be found here.