The Digital Innovation Fund is now live: UWE Bristol announces a second round for its £1m Covid-19 Recovery Fund

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Following on from a successful first round, UWE Bristol has launched the second round of funding for its Digital Innovation Fund, a £1m Covid-19 recovery fund open to SMEs in the West of England. 

The programme is supporting Research and Development projects in a range of industries and will be creating more innovation opportunities with this second round. 

The scheme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), offers eligible businesses innovation grants from £10,000 to £40,000 to fund 35% of project costs.

Grants are open to businesses in any sector that want to innovate and address new challenges that have arisen from Covid-19. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Deadlines for applications: 10 November 2020

Apply now:  www.digitalinnovationfund.co.uk 

Director of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol, Tracey John commented: “We were delighted to receive so many strong applications in round one and were impressed with the calibre of these. It was great to see how businesses are continuing to innovate during such challenging times. We are excited to go live with a second round, supporting the research and development ambitions of even more businesses across the West of England. 

The scheme remains open to SMEs in the region that are undertaking a digital innovation or research and development project. We are offering a sliding scale of grants, from £10k to £40k, so there will be a funding option for a range of businesses – from start-ups and micro enterprises, to more established organisations. Once again, the application process is straightforward and UWE Bristol staff are available to provide hands-on support through a series of confidential 1:1 drop-in sessions. This unique support is available to any business eligible to apply. 

UWE Bristol has given over £2.5m of grants to thriving businesses in the West of England, creating over 150 new jobs and over 100 new products and services. 

In a time of unprecedented change, UWE Bristol is proud of the role it can play to help transform businesses in the region during the pandemic and beyond.”


Notes to editors 

European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive up to £1,900,000 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 here.

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

UWE Bristol Living Architecture Project selected to be showcased on EU Innovation Radar Website

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An innovation developed through the EU funded “Living Architecture” Project, has been selected by the EU as something to be showcased on their Innovation Radar website. The project is between UWE Bristol; University of Newcastle Upon Tyne; the Spanish National Research Council; LIQUIFER Systems Group; Expolora SRL and the University of Trento, Italy. The recognition of the project on this website helps to demonstrate the work UWE have been doing to a global audience and may lead to new opportunities.

Living Architecture is conceived as a next-generation selectively-programmable bioreactor technology and integral component of human dwelling, capable of extracting valuable resources from waste water and air, generation of oxygen and production of proteins and fiber by manipulating consortia performance. The project’s final demonstrator is a modular bioreactor-wall, which is based on the operational principles of UWE’s microbial fuel cell technology and synthetic ‘consortia’ of microbes. Its operational principles are grounded in distributed sensing, decentralised autonomous information processing, high-degree of fault-tolerance and distributed actuation and reconfiguration.

Project lead for UWE Bristol Yannis Ieropoulos commented:  “We are really excited that our project has been selected to be showcased by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar. This is testament to the scientific excellence of this collective effort, which empirically demonstrates the positive impact that any building can have on our environment and the real value it can add to society.”

Details of the team’s innovation are now available here.

Launch Space graduate incubator recruiting now

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Have you graduated from a UK University in the last five years and have a business idea you’d like to put into action?

Launch Space provides free desk space and business support for graduate-led, innovative and high-tech businesses at various stages on the start-up journey. Launch Space is offering their business support package virtually, whilst the desk space is made safe for working.

Launch Space is part of a wider entrepreneurial community based on our Frenchay Campus in our University Enterprise Zone, housing the Future Space flexible workspace; the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and the Health Tech Hub – making it a great environment for graduate start-ups to flourish.

Since opening in 2017, Launch Space has supported over 100 businesses, with over £4.2 million funds raised by its residents and employment created for more than 120 people.

Launch Space is now well established in the regional start-up community, and is recognised for its unique ability to connect start-ups with the support and collaboration of the wider university and business communities.

Find out more and apply today to grow your start-up business.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via email: launchspace@uwe.ac.uk or call +44 (0)117 3286168.

Future Space Resident 500 More receive Covid-19 Grant

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Future Space resident, 500 More Ltd has won a grant to work with Oxford Brookes University on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) development that monitors how you walk after having Covid-19.

How you walk (or gait) is an indicator of recovery from diseases such as Covid-19. The funding will enable the joint team to develop an app to analyse walking, allowing doctors to track how patients recover. The project utilises state of the art AI to objectively measure walking quality, a key health indicator.

500 More has been selected as one of a number of innovative start-up businesses to receive funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to fast-track the development of innovations born out of the coronavirus crisis, while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups.

Greg Smart, CEO 500 More Digital said: “The DataGait project will help patients who are recovering from Covid-19 by giving them simple walking tasks to perform at home, allowing clinicians to track their recovery safely and remotely.

“This is a great example of our mission to drive purposeful digital innovation. Innovate UK funding will allow us to get this product in the hands of patients and doctors more quickly.”

Read the full story here.

Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone. They connect entrepreneurs and tech innovators with scientists, researchers and graduate talent – to spark collaboration, innovation and growth. Find out more here.

UWE Bristol launches Covid-19 recovery offering for businesses

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The University has put together an exciting package of support to help businesses grow and recover through these uncertain times. This includes a £1m Digital Innovation Fund, support for business transformation, and the UWE Business Network.

UWE Bristol is committed to helping businesses navigate through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.  

Find out more and register here

The Digital Innovation Fund: UWE Bristol £1m Covid-19 Recovery Fund  

  • £1m fund open to SME businesses in any sector within the Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire region looking to find digital solutions and innovate in response to Covid-19. 
  • Offers eligible businesses innovation grants from £10,000 to £40,000 to fund 35% of project costs. 
  • Application Deadline: 8 July 2020.  We will be announcing a 2nd round of funding soon.

Funding and support for small and large collaborative projects that help transform your business 

  • Tailored advice and support to help develop collaborative projects and funding applications.
  • Leadership and management practices; innovative business models; research and implementation; and technology development.

UWE Business Network 

  • Discounts on CPD courses 
  • Regular funding and community updates 
  • Innovation roundtables   
  • Networking events 

Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Martin Boddy commented: “UWE Bristol is delighted to open its Digital Innovation Fund, a £1m pot of grant funding to support businesses in the West of England to tackle new challenges caused by Covid-19.

 Alongside this, SMEs can also access a suite of funding and support for collaborative projects of any size. Our experienced and dedicated Business Development Team can help businesses shape projects and develop applications.

We are also launching the UWE Business Network, providing access to regular updates and events across all of the University’s business facing activities.

In a time of unprecedented change, UWE Bristol is proud of the role it can play to support the region’s SMEs in responding to the pandemic and financial crisis.

To find out more about the Digital Innovation Fund please see here. To find out more about everything else please see here.   

The Digital Innovation Fund funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Notes to editors:

European Regional Development Fund:

The project (has received) £1,900,000 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.

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

Introducing the Digital Innovation Fund: UWE Bristol’s £1m Covid-19 Recovery Fund

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In response to Covid-19, UWE Bristol is launching a Digital Innovation Fund to help businesses to innovate during these turbulent times. 

UWE’s Digital Innovation Fund provides business support and £1m in grants for small and medium sized business in the West of England. 

The scheme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), offers eligible businesses innovation grants from £10,000 to £40,000 to fund 35% of project costs.

Grants are open to businesses in any sector that want to innovate and address new challenges that have arisen from Covid-19. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Deadlines for application: 8 July.

Apply now

Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Professor Martin Boddy commented: “UWE Bristol is delighted to open its Digital Innovation Fund, £1m  of grant funding to support businesses in the West of England to address  new challenges caused by Covid-19.

Any SME in the area that is undertaking a digital innovation or research and development project should consider applying. We are offering a sliding scale of grants, from £10k to £40k, so hopefully there is a funding option for a range of businesses – from start-ups and micro enterprises, to more established organisations. The application process is straightforward and UWE Bristol staff are available to provide hands-on support through a series of confidential 1:1 drop-in sessions.

Digital Innovation Fund follows on from previous successful grant funding schemes run by the University, which has given £2m of grants to thriving businesses in the West of England, creating over 150 new jobs and over 100 new products and services. We are looking forward to this new fund delivering similar benefits to the local economy, and helping individual SMEs to innovate and grow.

In a time of unprecedented change, UWE Bristol is proud of the role it can play to support the region’s SMEs in responding to the pandemic and financial crisis.

Now is the time to innovate.

The Digital Innovation Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Notes to editors:

European Regional Development Fund:

The project (has received) £4,230,000 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.

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

Success for virtual CPD course on an Introduction to Zero Carbon Buildings

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The Department of Architecture and the Built Environment within FET at UWE Bristol have seen great success in a recently launched CPD course on an “Introduction to Zero Carbon Buildings” designed and delivered by Patrick O’Flynn (BEng, MSc, FHEA).

Looking to continue to grow their established presence in this remit with the new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), the course had over 750 applicants for the first iteration and drew a wide audience from the UK and internationally.

 Course Leader Patrick O’Flynn said “In times of such change, we wanted to ensure as a department we could support our industry to transition to a future that embraces Zero Carbon building design. Through offering this MOOC, it allowed both established and early career professionals an opportunity to develop their knowledge and engage with us as a department.”

Attendees came from across the construction industry including Architects, Building Services Engineers, Civil and Structural Engineers, Surveyors and well as those in other roles.

Delivered virtually, the course gave an introduction to a number of zero carbon factors including:

  • Building physics;
  • Renewable Energy & Green Technology;
  • Energy simulation
  • Human factors.

The course worked its way through the topic using weekly online session, preparation reading and follow up exercises to embed knowledge. The course worked its way through the topic using weekly online session, preparation reading and follow up exercises to embed knowledge.

Delegates could catch up in an online café space to discuss the topics covered further.

This course provided an opportunity as a taster session in a range of topics which UWE provides further opportunities to study at a deeper depth.

The next run for this course is confirmed for 12 June. Find out more about the course here.

UWE Bristol secure Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Harris Evolution

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UWE Bristol Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team have secured a new KTP with Harris Evolution, increasing the KTP portfolio to 13 live projects. The project will see Harris Evolution work with the UWE Bristol Business School (BBS).

The application, led by Ellen Parkes from UWE Bristol, was funded under Innovate UKs Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (MKTP) scheme, which was announced in 2019 following a £25m pledge in funding over the next three years from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

Based in Kingswood, Bristol, Harris Evolution is a commercial refurbishment company, specialising in quick turnaround projects carried out whilst the buildings are still in occupation. Harris’ work is targeted within three main sectors; Education, Healthcare and Hotel/Leisure.

The 24-month KTP project aims to implement transformational innovation through an Advanced Services approach to contract development and development of leadership capacity and will be led by Dr Kyle Alves , Dr Mel Smith and Professor Gareth Edwards (BBS). Through the collaboration with UWE, Harris will move from a standardised service offer to implementing outcome-based service contracts, tailored around individual customer value.

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Find out more about KTP’s at UWE Bristol here .

Launch Space Resident secures funding for business from Deliveroo

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Callum Jenkins at The Big Pitch. Photo credit: Deliveroo

Launch Space resident Callum Jenkins has secured funding from Deliveroo after pitching his business idea to the company’s chief executive and founder.

Callum set up his own business ESNO Media, a commercial drone services company, in 2018 and has been based in Launch Space, part of the University Enterprise Zone since June 2019. Callum has been working as a courierfor food delivery service Deliveroo alongside running his own business.

Callum entered and was successful in securing funding from Deliveroo’s The Big Pitch, which enabled their riders to pitch their business ideas in a Dragons Den style competition.

Callum’s winning pitch focused on providing future Drone services in new sectors and combining this with new forms of technology such as AI and IoT.

Callum commented that The Big Pitchs investment will be hugely beneficial, enabling me to expand ESNO faster and develop our new concept.”

He says the Deliveroo funding will help him invest in “cutting-edge” software, take on specialists and utilise market-leading drones.

This, in turn, will help generate new revenue and expand the business into a technology-based drone company.

Callum also said how helpful being part of the Launch Space has been in terms of broadening his knowledge of technology, as a brilliant sounding board for his business and helped him towards his personal development as an entrepreneur.

Congratulations to Callum on this great achievement.


Located in the new £16m University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus, Launch Space provides physical incubator space and enterprise support for graduate start-up businesses.

Launch Space will receive up to £2,000,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory manufacture visors for NHS staff

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Original post appeared on UWE Bristol website.

Technicians at Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) are using laser cutting technology to produce protective visors for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

A team are manufacturing an initial batch of 200 for staff working at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust. They plan to expand production with the support of 3D printing facilities and technicians across three UWE Bristol faculties.

The cleanable visors are being created using an approved design by University College London. The team also plans to manufacture surgical mask straps, which help prevent masks rubbing against the ears of clinical staff.

Gareth Griffiths, a Senior Engineering Manager in BRL’s Robotics Innovation Facility (RIF), said: “The trust approached us asking if we could supply PPE and we were very happy to use our facilities and expertise to help with their request.

“The visors can be made very quickly, with the manufacture process taking about two-and-a-half minutes for each visor. They are made from smooth laser-cut plastic so they can be easily cleaned and reused if necessary.”

Read the full post here.