Spotlight on Launch Space businesses

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In October 2021, Launch Space welcomed 16 innovative start-ups to receive business support, incubation, and acceleration services.

Launch Space provides free desk space and business support for aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage businesses. Launch Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone.

Through Launch Space some businesses are eligible to apply for Santander Start-up Grants which aim to remove the financial disadvantage to pursuing the entrepreneurial career path. These grants facilitate the growth of early-stage start-ups, giving them vital funds for an internship, or to develop new products and services.

Following the 6-month programme of workshops, peer learning, advisor sessions, and mentoring, the group were able to apply for the grants in early 2022.

Applications for the next cohort closed on 3 May and will begin on 18 May with a full-day induction where they will meet former members of Launch Space and hear first-hand the experiences they’ve had.

As we prepare to begin Launch Space Spring 2022, we caught up with a few of the Autumn 2021 cohort who were successful in securing these grants to see how they’re getting on.

Andy and Guy, Co-Founders, Target Student

Target Student are building the UKs first digital out-of-home advertising network specifically within student accommodation.

“Our platform will digitise advertising to students – which has traditionally been done through noticeboards and flyers. This also opens up a new channel to brands to advertise on large digital screens.

“We first applied for the Santander funding in 2021, and we got support to get our proof of concept up and running. This involved running the screens in 33 properties in 16 cities, with a reach of 30,000.

“Now we need to test our idea to see if we can measure impact. This additional funding will support with research and development of this stage, to work out which analysis platform to use so we know how many people are viewing our screens. This means we’ll have the hard data to be able to sell advertising space.”

Nicholas Du Preez, Founder AI Assist

AI Assist is a revision application for students. It combines proven study techniques with machine learning to adapt revision to the study needs of the individual student. This enables them to make the most out of their revision time and long-term memory.

“Education traditionally relies on students to memorise large amounts of information in order to pass exams, often with limited notes or information. I experienced this as a student and came up with the idea for AI Assist.

“Developing the idea was fascinating, because a lot of it is centred around understanding psychological research and revision techniques, so that you can create a revision plan that is unique to the individual.

“Everyone has areas they are weaker or stronger in when it comes to studying, and everyone has a different way of learning, so you can use machine learning to understand the best approach, or mix of approaches that is right for that individual. This is what the app does and it has already proven to increase the exam results achieved by 52%.

“The Santander funding will allow me to employ an intern who can support with the next step – turning the idea into a mobile and web application, testing it on students and ultimately improving their revision experience and their grades.”

William Testeil, Co-Founder, Famli

Famli is an app that helps families improve their health and wellbeing in a fun and simple way through engaging activities that cover exercise, nutrition, and mental health.

“Initially we were offering Famli on a B2C basis, but we’ve had a lot of interest from primary schools. This funding will go towards web support so that we can develop our app for teachers – allowing us to have more of an impact as well as providing us with a sustainable business model.

“Before getting to this point, we had been bootstrapped for two years. We’d spent our money developing the app and we were doing other work to cover our personal expenses. Through the support of Launch Space we got an initial grant from Santander, which allowed us to spend our whole working week on the business. This gave us time to hire our technical Co-Founder, which then led to us being eligible for more funding and we secured a £50k grant through Innovate UK.

“Now we’re able to get another round of funding through Santander, which will enable us to bring in new talent. Launch Space sparked a domino effect for us and gave us mentoring throughout this process.

“I’d definitely recommend Launch Space to other entrepreneurs – we’re all going through a similar process and as well the structured support it offers, it’s also just nice to pop in and connect with others going through the same journey.”

Jamie Taylor, Founder, Greener Greens

Greener Greens leverages modular vertical farming to bring the highest quality produce to chefs where and when they need it.

“I heard about Launch Space through UWE Bristol. I missed the first day because I was representing the university at the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards, so I was at Wembley Stadium pitching instead!

“These contacts helped me to bring on my first intern, which opened my eyes to the benefits of getting this support. As a startup you have no money and you need a lot of work done, so that’s why I applied for the funding. Connecting with the other businesses at Launch Space has given me an insight into the skills I need to bring in.

“Now I have the funding I want to find someone who can design mock ups of the software we need for our customers (chefs) to easily interact with our farms, and who can assess the use cases for the application. This work is essential for building our MVP and it is an area that is outside my own skill set.”

Find out more about Launch Space.

Applications open for Partnership PhD scheme

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UWE Bristol has recently announced another application round of its successful Partnership PhD programme.

A Partnership PhD bridges the gap between external organisations and university. It enables an organisation to gain access to cutting-edge real-world research that can help transform it.

The Partnership establishes a relationship between an organisation and UWE Bristol, based on a specific project that is mutually beneficial.

Organisations have the opportunity to choose a relevant research area and gain access to cutting-edge research. The researcher will work extensively with the organisation to provide a tailored piece of research.

In turn, the researcher will gain an opportunity to pursue their research in a real-world setting, developing transferable and interdisciplinary skills whilst gaining cross-sector experience.

Over the past two years, the Graduate School, part of the Research, Business and Innovation team at UWE Bristol, has been developing the Partnership PhD scheme. Through it, UWE’s investment in Post Graduate Research has been matched by over £1.5m from 40+ partner organisations.

Application deadline 1 July 2022 for Partnership PhD’s starting in 1 January 2023.

Email to find out more.

Please find below full Partnership PhD guidance, costings, useful information and the flyer for businesses:

See below for our slides for businesses:

Email to find out more.

Time for SMEs in the West of England to seize the opportunities from the transition to net zero

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Calling SMEs across the West of England region – now is the time to plan for net zero with fully funded support from the Skills for Clean Growth programme.
The pace of change in the economy and legislative environment is accelerating as business leaders and politicians look to reach ambitious targets to reduce carbon intensity at a regional, national and international level. The West of England has gone beyond the commitments of central government with the ambition to reach net zero across the region by 2030.

At the same time, consumers, businesses and investors are growing in appetite for products and services that have a positive environmental impact and are driving decarbonisation.

By embracing low carbon practices, you will help position your business to prosper in this rapidly changing world.

Skills for Clean Growth will support you to grow your business in a sustainable way by upskilling your management team and employees to drive change and the adoption of low carbon practices.

Free expert support from the Skills for Clean Growth programme

The Skills for Clean Growth programme (part of the West of England’s Workforce for the Future Programme and being delivered by UWE Bristol and NatWest) is supporting SMEs to manage the risks and embrace the opportunities from the transition to net zero. Driven by the needs of businesses on the programme, training is focused on support that is immediately actionable.
SMEs are supported with analysing their skills needs & action planning before being given access to bespoke training, resources, and peer networks to help reach their targets.

Current workshops topics include Green Energy Procurement and Management, Measuring Carbon Emissions, and Behavioural Change, with new training and resources continually developed in response to the needs of businesses engaging with the programme.

Register now to start your clean growth journey .

“There is a climate emergency and everyone is going to have to do their bit to help build a greener future. As we change the way we make goods and retrofit our homes we will need a newly skilled workforce. That is of course also a significant opportunity to create high skilled, well paid, green jobs. I’m pleased to be able to offer this support so workers will get the skills they need to meet the demands of a greener economy.”
Dan Norris, Mayor, West of England Combined Authority

Launch event

Join us on Wednesday 25 May to find out about the programme and the opportunities available to businesses.

This event will bring together key stakeholders and SMEs on the programme, whilst providing an overview of the overall Workforce for the Future programme and the support available through Skills for Clean Growth. There will be several speaker slots from key partners, UWE Bristol academics and industry leaders with a green skills and low carbon focus.

This launch event is open to eligible SMEs on the Workforce for the Future programme. To be eligible for support, you must have a business presence in the West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) and be a small or medium sized enterprise (SME). If you are eligible and new to the Workforce for the Future programme, please register your details here.

Develop your workforce in other areas through Workforce for the Future

Skills for Clean Growth is being delivered by UWE Bristol and NatWest as part of the West of England Combined Authorities Workforce for the Future programme, supporting SMEs with skills development across a range of future focused areas. Support is funded through the European Social Fund and is being delivered across a number of partners.

Find out about support available through Workforce for the Future.

Contact the team to find out more – or visit our website.

Free Digital Skills workshops for SMEs

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UWE Bristol are offering free & comprehensive Digital Marketing support for SMEs based in the West of England.  

The support is part of Workforce for the Future, a free service that will help SMEs to identify and address their skills needs, by upskilling and retraining employees, or supporting them to source and bring in new staff to drive their business forwards. 

What Support is Available? 

As part of our diverse offer, we will show you how to harness the power of digital with in-depth 1:1 support with expert advisors. We can help you with:

  • Introduction to Digital Marketing  
  • Digital Marketing Strategy Workshop   
  • Follow up & review sessions with consultants to develop your strategy  
  • SEO  
  • Social media, analytics and advertising    

Across the programme, your business and your employees will be able to access a bespoke combination of support via the below strands: 

  • Leadership & strategy 
  • People, Culture & Organisation 
  • Customer Insight & Interaction 
  • Process Operations & Data 
  • Technology & Security 

You will work with UWE Bristol to define an action plan of learning based on your specific needs. All courses are delivered as part of Workforce for the Future.  

How do I access the support?

To access the support and courses your organisation must be registered with Workforce for the Future Program.  Please contact us to register at:  or register your interest via this form.

UWE Bristol is delivering Workforce for the Future on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority. If it is determined that your development needs do not fit with the digital enhancement opportunities available at UWE Bristol, you will be referred to the West of England Combined Authority Growth Hub, who will refer you to a more suitable partner. 

Lifelong Loan Entitlement scheme: SME Workshop

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  • Friday 25 March 2022
  • 10:00 – 12:00 GMT
  • Watershed, BS1

You are invited to a consultation workshop to explore future plans for the government to fund training and up-skilling of potential staff, as part of the levelling-up agenda.

The outcome of the workshop will be to inform a pilot run by UWE Bristol on the Lifelong Loan Entitlement scheme, influencing the terms and conditions which the government will put on the scheme in time for the nation-wide launch in 2025.

Topics for exploration:

  • Lifelong Loan entitlement – a government scheme that enables individuals to access University short courses, funded through the Student Loan Company.
  • Higher/Degree Apprenticeships – a mentoring system and funding mechanism for employees on certain professions, where they complete a degree part-time and obtain a separate professional qualification such as chartership.
  • Skills Bootcamps – short intense training courses aimed at giving potential employees the basic skills they need to join the labour market.
  • Education delivery methods – exploring the different types of education delivery and the opportunities and barriers that they may pose to employers. This includes day-release, block-release, evening classes, blended, hybrid and on-line.
  • Recruitment of people from low participation neighbourhoods and low participation demographics.
  • Green & Zero Carbon skills – the pilot for the Lifelong Loan Entitlement short courses will be on the subject of Zero Carbon buildings and sustainable development. So there will also be an opportunity to discuss the content of these, although this is not the main focus of the workshop.

Catering is provided and each participant will receive a sustainable gift for their time.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Lyons Davidson

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Lyons Davidson:

About Lyons Davidson

Lyons Davidson is a national law firm providing legal services to businesses and individuals. It has been operating across the UK for over 40 years with offices in Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh, and headquarters in Bristol.

Lyons Davidson is a responsible business with certification for the quality of its approach to its impact on the environment, the security of its systems and the investment it makes in its people.

Innovation, along with client experience, has been fundamental to Lyons Davidson’s success. An emphasis in delivering this cost-effectively is leading the company to seek digital solutions whilst offering various online tools to maintain its competitive edge and expand its business.

Lyons Davidson logo

The challenge the KTP set out to address

Reforms on costs recovery in the personal injury market will consolidate the number of providers and increase business opportunities and new client acquisition for the remaining providers. This means the volume of personal injury claims for the remaining providers will increase putting further pressure on their relevant teams. More than 50% of Lyons Davidson’s business resides in personal injury claims and remaining in the business requires a lean and effective processes.

The current legal advice helpline is operated via graduate employees and qualified staff and providing this service on a 24-7 basis adds to the overall cost of the service. The business was also looking for a solution to improve the customer journey where calls could be triaged but a call back needed to be arranged as the relevant advisor was not available.

The aim is to integrate an intelligent system built on Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning within the existing call handling system to support claimants and provide information relevant to their enquiry/claim which can then lead to further action.

Implementation of a technologically advanced helpline will deliver the level of service that Lyons Davidson is recognised for, increasing client satisfaction and company reputation.

Why was the KTP the right mechanism to achieve this?

The KTP structure provided the most appropriate model for achieving the project goal, enabling Lyons Davidson to maximise the potential of the Legal Advice system and transform the business. It allowed Lyons Davidson to grow its expertise in AI/ML and innovative service delivery using knowledge based on cutting edge research from a leading University AI research group, which would have been difficult to obtain via consultancy.

There was no off-the-shelf option that the company could consider as current AI/ML advice services are typically offering primary advice and information on subject areas where there is less risk tied to potential incorrect information. What was created through this KTP was bespoke and highly refined.

Had Lyons Davidson considered recruiting an AI practitioner directly, it may have been more challenging to find someone with the precise skill sets required as practitioner skill sets vary greatly. Academic involvement in the project removed any risk associated with potentially recruiting the wrong skill set.

The solution

Through initial research and implementation of currently available dialog management solutions and expertise in conversational AI from UWE, together with the KTP associate it was possible to identify gaps in currently available systems which centred on current natural language processing challenges and challenges with scalability.

This lead to the development of a user led tasked orientated dialog management system based on a novel extension of Behaviour trees, more commonly associated with games development, where conversation knowledge is separate from the underlying system and a simpler, more visual interface for design, development and debugging.

What changed as a result of the KTP?

Impact and Benefits

For Lyons Davidson:
  • Cost savings and efficiencies through automation to parts of the client journey in relation to their legal claim life cycle.
  • Automation of client interactions has allowed staff to focus on the more specific and complex tasks whilst also ensuring that client satisfaction has improved as they are able to get immediate responses to requests.
  • Has allowed for the capacity and focus to look into future development areas which otherwise would never have been possible and to provide new solutions to business partners.
For UWE Bristol:
  • Further experience in dialogue management and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and enhancement of experience in working and collaborating within industry in developing and researching new ideas and solutions and identifying how these can be implemented to tackle industrial problems.
  • Provided valuable opportunities to develop and explore expertise in considering and embedding the principles of ethical research in complex areas dealing with highly sensitive data.
  • Identified of a number of topics for further research which have fed into current and future course curation as well as research projects for undergraduates, MSc Data Science and MRes projects.  
For the KTP Associate:
  • Through exposure between both a research knowledge base and business setting the associate has developed leadership skills required to co-ordinate different institutions in bringing an innovative solution to market as well as a developing a greater knowledge of how the insurance claims and legal service industries operate.
  • The associate has since been employed by Lyons Davidson to continue developing the project further as well as taking control and exploring future development across other areas of the business using AI/ML. 

Quantifiable benefits

  • 16,500 customers currently using messaging service as part of their claims process and will be exposed to automated information and manage actionable tasks independently.
  • The development will extend the benefit that customers will obtain in accessing claims information out of hours. Currently 22% of customers access their portal out of normal office hours
  • It is estimated that 5-10% of customer messages will be answered through the dialog management system, directly saving case handler time. This is in addition to the adviser time to be saved when applied to provide advice and call filtering for helpline calls.

What the partners have to say

Mark Savill, Managing Director, Lyons Davidson:

We have enjoyed working with UWE Bristol to build an innovative solution that has benefited our customers, our people and our business. The Knowledge Transfer has been very effective and collaborative, and has helped us overcome technical problems to develop a product that maximises the impact of the use of AI and ML within an area of our business. The experience has also helped change the way our development teams work and communicate and the way we approach problem solving. The whole process has been supportive and helpful and delivered a great platform for us to build on.

Professor Jim Smith, UWE Bristol:

“Knowledge Transfer Partnerships provide a win-win scenario for the three main legs of the project – university, company and associate. As an academic, the opportunity to test new ideas and develop co-designed research agendas that reflect real-world needs is invaluable.

Dr Mehmet Aydin, UWE Bristol:

It is always a privilege to collaborate with industry to implement the research results and realise them in the real life. This project helped build a good collaboration with the company and developed an automatic chatbot development tool, which facilitates a transferable knowledge across many industries. The results produced by the associate were excellently helpful to demonstrate the proof of concept and further develop into industrial solutions.

KTP Associate Chris Tapply, UWE Bristol/Lyons Davidson:

“Being given the opportunity to undertake this KTP I have been able to enter into a field of work which can be difficult to enter as an undergraduate. This has given me the chance to develop my skills and interests with huge support and guidance all whilst developing an innovative solution to a business objective as well as providing further research opportunities for UWE Bristol. “

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.

Download the full case study below:

Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at UWE Bristol.

SMEs in the West of England start their net zero journey through the Skills for Clean Growth programme

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Skills for Clean Growth (SCG) is a free business support programme co-delivered by UWE Bristol and NatWest, as part of the Workforce for the Future (WftF) programme, helping to drive the West of England Combined Authority region’s ambitions for clean and inclusive growth.

The programme is supporting SMEs to manage the risks and embrace the opportunities from the transition to net zero, drawing on the expertise of UWE Bristol academics and professional services staff, industry leaders and subject matter experts.

SMEs are supported across three areas:

  1. Green Skills Needs Analysis & Action Plan – An initial diagnostic to analyse skills needed and development of an action plan to drive clean growth
  2. Training and Workshops – developing practical skills & knowledge across businesses that is directly actionable
  3. Skills Ecosystem and Network – Practical, industry targeted case studies and resources, peer learning and connections to likeminded businesses (in person and online).

Matt Hatcher, Director of Commercial Banking, West of England at NatWest, said:

“Our ambition is to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to a net zero economy. We know from our Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report that SMEs could create up to 130,000 new jobs, produce around 30,000 new businesses and result in an estimated £160 billion opportunity for the UK economy.

We want to support them on every step of the journey that takes them from awareness and understanding, to ability to act, and finally to achieving positive climate and financial impact.

This is why we are delighted to partner with UWE Bristol on their Skills for Clean Growth programmes, helping SMEs and their workforce develop the skills required to transition to net zero and embrace the opportunities arising from a greener economy.”

West of England’s Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, who is also supporting the programme, said: 

“There is a climate emergency and everyone is going to have to do their bit to help build a greener future. As we change the way we make goods and retrofit our homes we will need a newly skilled workforce. That is of course also a significant opportunity to create high skilled, well paid, green jobs. I’m pleased to be able to offer this support so workers will get the skills they need to meet the demands of a greener economy.”

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for support, applicants must have a business presence in the West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) and be a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) with less than 250 employees.


The SCG programme is accepting registrations from SMEs. Register today to start your clean growth journey!

Please apply via the SCG website or select Apply now where you will be asked to fill out some details about your company and the support you are looking for on a registration form.

A member of the UWE Bristol team will then be in touch with you to arrange an initial discussion around the programme and any of your needs. If you have any further queries in the meantime, please contact us via  and one of the team will get back to you.

Workforce for the Future

Funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), UWE Bristol is delivering Workforce for the Future on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) in collaboration with other partners.

Alongside the SCG programme, SMEs can access other support from expert partners. Please visit the West of England Combined Authority Growth Hub to find out more.

Applications now open for UWE Bristol’s Green Skills programme

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Delivering opportunities for young people and increasing ethnic diversity in the flourishing green economy

Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship, a transformational ‘first of its kind’ skills programme has opened for applications.  It is offering young people aged 18 – 28 living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset access to green jobs, training and business opportunities. The programme particularly encourages applications from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse young people.

The programme, led by UWE Bristol, in collaboration with NatWest and the Black South West Network will help the West of England region transition to a green economy, while seeking to address the underrepresentation of people from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds in environmental careers, through an inclusive and equitable programme of training and employment opportunities. 

Launched against a backdrop of economic recovery, following the Covid pandemic, and the demand for 50,000 new jobs to be created in the region by 2030 to meet the zero carbon target, it will provide participants with fully paid training in newly emerging green skills, facilitate access to internships and support start-ups in a fast growing sector.  

Learners will receive 8 days of paid in-person training in small groups focusing on developing leadership and networking skills, whilst covering topics including the future of energy, a zero waste approach to food and carbon neutral building and retrofitting. They will then move on to either a paid local internship, or fully funded further training, or support for starting their own business.

Learners will receive tailored coaching, mentoring and careers advice throughout the programme and benefit from site visits to experience green skills in action.

Businesses in the region looking to include diverse talent and introduce key green skills into their business will be able to benefit from fully funded internship opportunities.

As a legacy, the project will launch a Green Skills and Entrepreneurship HUB providing a toolkit of skills and business support for learners, entrepreneurs, businesses and social enterprises and will including training modules and talent and employment opportunities.

Sado Jirde, Director, Black South West Network said “BSWN is delighted to be a partner in this pilot programme. The opportunities to provide targeted, sector specific skills and enterprise opportunities to Black and Minoritized communities are few and far between and this programme is an innovative and unique step forward. We are looking forward to welcoming a cohort of Black and Minoritized environmental entrepreneurs to our new Enterprise and Culture Centre at the Coach House in St Paul’s. We hope that this pilot will evolve into an ongoing, longer-term programme that will address two-fold, intersecting issues of the environmental crisis and racial injustice.”

Director of Business, Research and Innovation, Tracey John said: “Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship will provide the skills and support needed by young people who’ve missed out on so many opportunities as a result of the Covid pandemic, while opening up opportunities to communities that have previously experienced difficulty in receiving mainstream support. We’re delighted to be working with our partners at Black South West Network and NatWest to deliver such an exciting new programme helping to create inclusive regional economic growth whilst supporting the West of England’s transition to a green economy.

Matt Hatcher, Director, Commercial Banking said: “As a principal partner at COP26 and as the leading bank in the UK for business customers and one of the largest for retail customers, we understand the role the finance sector needs to play in helping companies, customers and communities achieve their net zero ambitions. Our recent Springboard to Sustainability Report has also shown the opportunities the green economy can create. SMEs could create up to 130,000 new jobs, produce around 30,000 new businesses and result in an estimated £160 billion opportunity for the UK economy. This partnership offers the chance to put our young people and communities at its heart. By working together with UWE Bristol and the Black South West Network, we can provide the skills and resources to help nurture their potential and make progress towards a more inclusive economy in the West of England.”

Young people interested in applying to the scheme should see below:

Businesses in the region can find out more at


It is managed, in the West of England, by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) on behalf of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

The UK Community Renewal Fund aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK, creating opportunities to trial new approaches and innovative ideas at the local level.

WECA covers the three geographical areas of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire.

National Apprenticeship Week: In Conversation with…

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As part of National Apprenticeship Week, our Head of Apprentices, Simon Flenley-Pond has been having conversations with our academics about the importance of apprenticeships and finding out what an apprenticeship at UWE Bristol is like.

Watch his conversations below:

National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Interview with David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships
National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Interview with Ramin Amali, Faculty Director of Enterprise and Partnerships
National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Interview with Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies
National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Interview with Fiona Lawrence, Faculty Director of Workforce Transformation and Educational Partnerships
National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Interview with David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships

Find out more about apprenticeships at UWE Bristol.

University Enterprise Zone supports over 100 innovation start-ups and contributes £17m to Bristol economy, report shows

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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.

Over 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.

Future Space five years impact video

Jo Stevens, Managing Director for Oxford Innovation, says:

“Oxford Innovation are delighted to partner with UWE Bristol at Future Space and very proud of what has been achieved there by the team, in supporting so many innovative businesses to grow and create so many new products and services.

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”

CASE STUDY: Indus Fusion – from start-up incubator to health tech innovators

One of the businesses supported by Future Space is Indus Fusion, who hit the headlines recently for their 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.”

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