Future Space resident, Mass Spec Analytical, Receives Innovate UK Funding for Plasma Ion Source Research

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Future Space resident Mass Spec Analytical, announced today that it has received additional funding from Innovate UK to pursue its Plasma Ion Source Development work.

Mass Spec Analytical (MSA) received the award through the Analysis for Innovators Competition where the aim is to help companies overcome intractable product, manufacturing or process performance problems through advanced measurement and analytical technologies.

Mass Spec Analytical specialises in the development of versatile direct-analysis ion sources for substance identification using mass spectrometry.

MSA was awarded a further grant under the COVID-19: Continuity Grants initiative to provide additional support to the project, ensuring that the challenges presented by the current pandemic and lock down of key facilities would have as little impact as possible.

Lance Hiley, MSA Managing Director commented: “The Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme has provided our business with access to experts and equipment in laboratories recognised worldwide for analysis and measurement”

“That is invaluable to a company like ours developing innovative products. Our project had just got underway when the Covid-19 Lockdown was announced, and our plans delayed. The Covid-19 Continuity Grant has provided us with additional funds to develop workarounds with our Innovate measurement partner and implement alternative approaches to the workplan. The structure of the grant also ensures that the additional funds will pay for a legacy in our business in the years to come.”

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.

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.

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 .

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: Powerline Technologies Ltd Associate Spotlight

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Photo: UWE KTP Associate Minh Trang

Based in Bristol, Powerline Technologies Ltd deliver next generation Smart Grid distribution automation solutions to utilities and Distribution Systems/Network Operators (DSO/DNO) worldwide. Since starting in June 2019, the Knowledge Transfer Partnership with UWE Bristol has been working to create a novel simulator of electrical distribution assets for Smart Grid application development.

Minh Trang has been leading the project as the KTP Associate. We spoke to Trang, 9 months into the project to find out how she has found the KTP so far:

How long have you been a KTP Associate?

I started the role in June 2019 so I’ve almost been in the post for a year.

What attracted you to the KTP role?

I came from a PhD and what I liked about the KTP was the possibility of continuing to manage my own project whilst working for a local company with the potential to be employed with the company on completion. The KTP also offers great opportunities for continuing professional development alongside the project via the £4,000 development budget.

How is the partnership between UWE and the company working?

It’s been working really well. I’ve been learning a lot from UWE Power Systems Research Laboratory about algorithms and methods for analysing and driving the project and Powerline Technologies have been supporting me with the practical knowledge for running the project more efficiently.

What are the current challenges of your role?

The challenges have mostly been technical, ensuring the correct application of data, getting used to new software packages and determining the most effective models for the project. However, I have been supported by my company and academic supervisors throughout all of this, which I’m really grateful for.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It would have to be the experience that I’m gaining in managing a challenging, real-life project, which I think is a vitally important skill for my future career plans.

What do you think about the support available from UWE and the Company?

It’s been great, my Academic Supervisor (Hassan Nouri) is really knowledgeable and has deepened my understanding of the field. I also feel really engaged with the team at Powerline and enjoy being part of their working environment.

To find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visit our website


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are funded by UKRI through Innovate UK with the support of co-funders, including the Scottish Funding Council, Welsh Government, Invest Northern Ireland, Defra and BEIS. Innovate UK manages the KTP programme and facilitates its delivery through a range of partners including the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Knowledge Bases and Businesses. Each partner plays a specific role in the support and delivery of the programme.  

UK first as Bristol & Bath region creates programme to increase investment into successful start-up community

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Launching today (14/01/2020), UWE Bristol will partner with TechSPARK to deliver a pioneering programme to help catalyse investment into  fast-growing startups in Bristol, Bath and the West of England. The programme is the first of its kind in the UK and will launch activities to increase the flow of money into the area and showcase the region as a leading start-up hub.

The Investment Activator Programme (IAP) will begin as a 2 year pilot bringing together 8 public and private sector organisations who recognise the impact of working collaboratively to strengthen the ecosystem and jointly deliver activity. 

In the last few years Bristol has seen a dramatic rise in the level of investment into the city’s businesses and in 2019 outperformed the likes of Dublin, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oxford and Brussels. However there’s still a long way to go before the regions can compete with more traditional investment hubs like London where over $8.2bn raised this year versus $418m locally.

Investment Activator Briony Phillips said “According to the UKBAA, we have the third largest community of angel investors (early stage) in the UK, behind London and the South East. And yet 85% of the angel investment from our region goes into the golden triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford.” 

“Little do they know that Graphcore and Ovo Energy are Bristol-grown unicorns, and Ultrahaptics, Blu Wireless, Immersive Labs and Open Bionics are just a few examples of real power-hitters when it comes to raising investment and making their mark on the global tech scene. The Investment Activator programme will add some much-needed capacity to help solve this challenge.”

The programme will build on some of the work done by TechSPARK and Engine Shed by expanding on the successful Silicon Gorge pitch competition which has worked with over 250 companies pitching for over £150 million between them, and the Quarterly Investment Briefing (QIB) events, which has  brought together over 300 investors to network, share knowledge and learn about potential investment opportunities.

The IAP has three areas of delivery – Events / Content and Community / Data and Connections – with the core objectives being:

  • To accelerate and catalyse the investment ecosystem 
  • To make investment support more accessible for founders
  • To build the network of investors and founders or leaders locally

The programme will deliver over 30 targeted investment events, articles and tools to support founders raising money. It will offer a relationship management programme to build connections with investors across the UK and showcase the opportunities in the West on a national stage.  

Tracey John, Director of Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol says: “We are really excited to be supporting the new Investment Activator Programme. The start-up ecosystem in the West of England needs initiatives that bring startups and early stage companies together with investors; investors who not only provide access to funds, but also offer real business experience that is invaluable to any early stage growth company. We have over 85 high tech businesses in the University Enterprise Zone at our Frenchay Campus and are excited to see the IAP support their growth.”

Other specialist partners for the programme include Delaware (enterprise software), Engine Shed (economic development), Rocketmakers (Venturetech), Sanderson (talent), Smith & Williamson (accounting), TLT (legal) & the West of England Combined Authority (Business Support). 

World-first ‘smart’ fungal building to be developed by UWE academics

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A revolutionary new type of intelligent building made with green construction materials and capable of adaptively reacting to changes in light, temperature and air pollutants is being developed by UWE Bristol academics in collaboration with partners from Denmark (Centre for Information Technology and Architecture), Italy (MOGU) and the Netherlands (Utrecht University).

Researchers from the UWE Bristol’s Centre of Unconventional Computing will lead the construction of a smart home for the future using fungi, a carbon free material, as part of a £2.5 million project funded by the European Commission.

Using a novel bio-electric system developed by scientists, living fungi grown inside the building’s framework structure will act as a sensor detecting changes in light, pollutants and temperature, and computers will analyse the information. When particular changes are recognised, the system will have the potential to respond adaptively by controlling connected devices such as lights and heaters.

UWE Bristol computer scientists will work with European experts in architecture, biophysics and mycology on the project, which has been heralded as a potential breakthrough for the building industry due to its eco-friendly credentials. By using fungi as an integrated structural and computational substrate, buildings would have low production and running costs, embedded artificial intelligence, and could be returned to nature when no longer in use.

The three-year FUNGAR (Fungal Architectures) project will mark the first time intelligent biological substances have been used as construction materials. It will see living organisms and computing function integrated into designing and building.

Professor Andrew Adamatzky, Director of the Centre of Unconventional Computing, said: “Our overarching goal is to design and bio-manufacture a sensing and computing building with fungi. This is a radically new approach as it proposes to use a real living organism in the material structure, which is also tuned to perform computation.

“If successful, the building as a whole will be able to recognise lighting levels, chemicals in the environment, the presence of people, and will respond to touch. Acting as a massively-parallel computer, the building will control devices depending on the environmental conditions. For example, a warning light could be lit if high levels of air pollution were detected or inhabitants could be warned about high or low temperatures. It’s our vision for an alternative version of a smart home.

“This type of building would be ecologically-friendly as it will be made from natural materials, and will be lightweight, waterproof and recyclable when it reaches the end of its life.”

Professor Adamatzky discovered fungi could be used as a type of functional computer following a studyat UWE Bristol three years ago. He found that the organism reacts to external stimuli such changes in lighting conditions and temperature with spikes of electrical activity.

Fungi is already used as a building material in Europe but the existing approach involves growing the organism to the shape of bricks or blocks, before drying it out to harden. However, fungi have never before been used in live form in self-growing construction. For the FUNGAR project, the fungi will be combined with nanoparticles and polymers to make mycelium-based electronics. This material will then be grown inside the building’s triaxial woven structure. The full-scale fungal building will be constructed in Denmark and Italy, with a smaller scale version being created at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The academic partners in the project are the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture in Denmark and Utrecht Universityin Holland. The industry partner is MOGU, a mycelium-based technologies company based in Italy. Originally appeared on the UWE website.

UWE Bristol secure new Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Reusaworld

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UWE Bristol Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team have secured another KTP with Reusaworld and the Centre for Machine Vision. The new KTP means that UWE Bristol now has 11 live KTPs. The KTP which is based in Gloucester will see innovative changes to the world of second hand books.

This KTP will be with Reuseabook, a part of Reusaworld.

Reuseabook was founded in 2008 by Rob Hollier and Ami Hollier with the following mission: NEVER to allow a single book to go to landfill.

Strong believers in conscientious capitalism, they wanted to create an earth-friendly sustainable business model while helping others. After much hard work what emerged was the Reuseaworld group: an award-winning, ethical, environmentally-friendly and technology-savvy enterprise that uses the internet to sell second-hand books worldwide.

Working with the Centre for Machine Vision, the aim of the 30 month KTP is to develop innovative machine vision techniques and deep learning methodologies to test the viability of data outputs of a 3D Book Vision System and its application to the book grading process. Ultimately, increasing the speed and quality of inbound book sorting, in-house data management and book cataloguing.

The UWE Lead for the KTP is Professor Lyndon Smith and the Academic Supervisor is Dr Abdul Farooq, who are both part of the Centre for Machine Vision at UWE Bristol. The Centre for Machine Vision is part of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). They solve real-world practical computer vision problems. Their  particular excellence lies in three-dimensional reconstruction and surface inspection.

Innovate UK scored the proposal very highly (4th out of 60 applications) so congratulations to all involved!

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).  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.

New Start-up visa for international students to develop businesses of the future

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​The government’s new Start-up visa has been launched which allows international graduates to apply for a two-year visa to remain in the UK and develop a start-up business.

As part of UWE Bristol’s ambition to support innovation and enterprise, we are now inviting applications from UWE Bristol international graduates who have a high-tech, high-growth business idea to apply for a Start-up visa and benefit from using the free desk space and business support available from Launch Space.

Set in the heart of the University’s Enterprise Zone, Launch Space has supported over 50 businesses who have raised funds of £1.8 million and employing more than 90 people.

With connections in the regional start up, academic, and business communities, it’s a great place to kick off a start-up.

Students coming to the end of their studies apply to Launch Space which assesses the business proposal and viability.

Approved start-ups are then supported by the Immigration Team to make a visa application.

The specific support for students is

  • 12 month free incubation space
  • Business support from experienced business advisors
  • Connections into the University community of academics and students, and the wider regional business community

After their first year of support people they will then have a further 12 months to develop their business further.

The University can put forward a maximum of 20 students per year although all business ideas are scrutinised in the Launch Space application process so not every applicant is accepted.

You can find out more about the opportunities available to international graduates by applying for a Start-up visa on the UWE Bristol website.

You can also contact the Immigration Advice Team, email immigrationadvice@uwe.ac.uk or visit the immigration hub in 2P4, Frenchay campus Monday to Thursday 10:30-12:00 / 14:00-15:30 and Friday 10:30-12:00.

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.

Scale Up 4 Growth Initiative wins national award

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Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G) has won best External Knowledge Exchange (KE) Initiative of the Year at the PraxisAuril KE Awards 2019.

The KE Awards, organised by PraxisAuril – the UK’s world-leading professional association for Knowledge Exchange (KE) practitioners – and sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), celebrate the contribution of KE professionals in enabling and facilitating the societal and economic impact of research.

S4G is an innovative, £2.7m programme, designed by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Research, Business and Innovation (RBI) team and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The programme is delivered by the unique S4G Partnership of UWE Bristol (lead), NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator and Corporate and Commercial Banking Teams, and Foot Anstey LLP

The S4G team beat the University of Manchester for their Manchester Law and Technology Initiative (MLaTI) and the University of Kent for their Employability Points Scheme to claim the prize.

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

“We are extremely proud of the S4G programme, the valued Partnership we have created with NatWest and Foot Anstey, and our impact on the West of England’s scaling businesses in the regional economy.”

Nathan Peacey, Partner at Foot Anstey commented:

“It’s fantastic to see Scale Up 4 Growth recognised as a standout example of university and business working in partnership. We have a huge amount to gain by working with exciting growth businesses and we have been delighted to support them on this journey through sharing our expertise and experience. This collaboration is another great example of how businesses are successfully working together to raise the South West’s profile as being at the forefront of tech and innovation and build the regional economy.”

Matt Hatcher, NatWest Director of Corporate and Commercial Coverage, South West, said:

“As a bank we’re hugely committed to supporting the growth of entrepreneurism in the region and helping more start-up and scale-up businesses achieve success. Collaboration and innovation is key, which is why we are delighted with the success of the S4G scheme. It is making a real impact and along with our Entrepreneur Accelerator Hub in Bristol, helping support the rich vein of talent we have in the West of England achieve national and international success.”

The S4G team collecting their award

Olly Reid, Scale Acceleration Manager at NatWest, added:

Through our accelerator programme we’re working with hundreds of exciting start-up and scale-up businesses from across the region in multiple sectors. The cross-team collaboration involved with working with the team at UWE and our corporate and commercial team at NatWest has allowed us to develop a real exciting programme that is crucially expanding the network of opportunities available to local businesses. This is where the success of the S4G programme lies and why we hope more local entrepreneurs will benefit in the years ahead.”

S4G is a 3-year, free programme of support for businesses in the West of England (WoE) that are looking to grow, expand and scale. It includes:

  • Two-day ‘business growth’ workshops, delivered across the WoE by leading Bristol Business School academics and industry experts from the S4G Partnership
  • Grants of £10k–40k for projects that help businesses address barriers to growth

S4G is an excellent example of an External KE Initiative that brings together the very best in university-business partnership working, sharing knowledge and expertise from academia and industry with growing businesses, to benefit the regional economy.

Since its launch in November 2018, over 300 businesses have registered to be part of the S4G network and benefit from the programme.

S4G is the latest in a series of projects led by UWE Bristol to support innovative high growth businesses in the West of England. These projects have supported 100’s of businesses across the region and created over 1,000 new jobs. NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme has supported nearly 900 businesses from the South West since it opened in Bristol in 2015. Applications are now open for its latest intake.

Congratulations to the Scale Up 4 Growth team. You can find out more about S4G here