Future Space responds to the ‘new world of work’

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Future Space responds to the ‘new world of work’ with launch of connected member option and newly appointed innovation manager.

Future Space, in the University Enterprise Zone (UEZ), has offices, workshops and lab-space for science and tech-based businesses, and has been explicitly designed to encourage innovation, collaboration and inspiration.

Future Space is redefining the workspace market with a new set of member packages and business support services, designed to meet the needs of SMEs for the post-Covid era.

With flexibility and added value at the heart of its new offering, the hub – renowned as a hot bed of innovation in the South West – will have a new affiliate membership option, called Connected, available from September.

The newly created connected membership has been designed to enable access into Future Space facilities and services for those businesses that don’t need a dedicated desk.

The package is designed to be a gateway to a more permanent presence at the centre. Members can take advantage of the networking spaces during the week, as well as the full range of Future Space business support services.

Businesses will also be able to make use of the valuable connection with the University of the West of England (UWE) community to benefit from academic resources and research functions. This will all be supported by a new member only website for firms to access the extensive list of opportunities available.

The new connected membership, member website and virtual in-residence initiative has been driven by Aimeé Skinner, newly appointed innovation manager for Future Space.

Aimeé joins Oxford Innovation, which operates Future Space on behalf of UWE, with several years’ corporate experience. Notably, she spent two years as innovation manager for Bristol Water where she was credited with developing and implementing the utility provider’s innovation agenda which included Robotic Process Automation.

Commenting on her appointment, Aimeé said: “I’m truly excited to be part of the Future Space team. It’s a challenging time for companies and I am focused on establishing new ways to support the business community through pioneering and creative applications.

“I have also been further developing my close contact with UWE to build mutually beneficial links and access to resources for our member companies, to foster new ways of working and drive future innovation.”

Read the full story here.

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.

Future Space celebrates £1.3m funding for companies driving innovation

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Original post appeared on Business Leader.

Businesses based at UWE Bristol’s science and tech hub Future Space are celebrating the award of Innovate UK funding designed to help companies continue innovation and development activities through the coronavirus crisis.

£1.3m funding has been secured by resident businesses in the last three months, supported by the Future Space team.

Future Space businesses securing Innovate UK coronavirus grants, created by the Government to support businesses driving innovation and development, include biodevice tech IP specialist BiotIP; digital experts 500More; pioneers in Cyber-Physical Operating Systems Indus Four; software solutions provider HBXL, mass spectrometry experts Mass Spec Analytical; 3D scanning and software engineering firm OR3D; and eco technology provider to the transport and aviation industries Intercede Ventures.

In addition, transport solutions innovator Esoterix was one of 25 organisations to snap up a share of a £9.4m pot offered by the Department of Transport and delivered by Innovate UK in its 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, which encourages innovation in the rail industry.

The £370,000 grant has enabled Esoterix to recruit four new members of staff to support with the project which will be completed by the end of March 2021.

Meanwhile, Service Robotics, the company behind GenieConnect®, the companion robot that helps older adults live independently in their homes through voice-enabled face-to-face video support, successfully completed a second seed funding round amounting to £600k.

Future Space returned to full operation for all companies on 29 June and maintained access throughout the lockdown period for its lab-based businesses to enable vital research to continue uninterrupted.

The team worked closely with UWE Bristol at the start of lockdown to put in place a support package for all companies.

All companies also received three months’ 50% rent reduction and access to UWE Bristol’s Summer Internship scheme.

Service Robotics and another Future Space business Healcerion EMEA have appointed fully funded interns for the summer as part of the scheme designed to create employment opportunities during the challenging Covid period.

Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation (OI) on behalf of the University of the West of England (UWE), and offers a range of office space, shared and dedicated laboratories, workshops and coworking facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science based entrepreneurs and innovators.

Future Space centre director Laura Crocken Stevens said: “It’s testament to the pioneering work ongoing here at Future Space that these innovation-driven grants and funding have been received by our customers and we look forward to seeing what the next phase brings.

“We have been focused on assisting all our resident businesses through lockdown. Every company has a different story to tell. For our lab customers it was essential for us to maintain access to Future Space to continue important research work and others needed assistance to take advantage of Government support measures.”

Professor Martin Boddy, pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at UWE Bristol and a key founder of Future Space commented: “There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has created unexpected challenges, with the situation still evolving. Future Space businesses have, however, shown great resilience in the face of these challenges and continue to innovate and grow.

“These funding awards are great news and we look forward to seeing the emergence of ground-breaking work as a result. Future Space has become synonymous with excellence in innovation, demand for our space and facilities remains buoyant and we look forward to continuing growth and development.”
Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation (OI) on behalf of the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE), and offers a range of office space, shared and dedicated laboratories, workshops and co-working facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science based entrepreneurs and innovators.
The hub last year posted record results, with over £9 million of regional Gross Value Added (GVA) in its third year of operation.

Read the full story here

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.

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.

UWE Researchers’ ‘Real Time’ Response to Covid-19

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Guest blog: Ben Mitchell, Research Impact Team

As a result of their expertise in Public Health, Emergency Medical Care, Knowledge Mobilisation, Maths and Computer Modelling, and other such related areas, a number of UWE researchers have been approached or volunteered in assisting with the country’s efforts to tackle Covid-19. A selection of these researchers can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

UWE Researchers and the Clinical Commissioning Groups

As part of UWE’s response to Covid-19, researchers from UWE have been working with the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to provide evidence to support rapid decision making. The CCG are the people charged with making healthcare decisions locally and they are currently grappling with things such as: what do we need to do? where do we need to pool our resources? what types of treatment are needed? how do we need to respond? The local CCG includes healthcare providers in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Professor Nicki Walsh

Within the local CCG ‘cells’ have been established, acting as working groups purely in response to the impact that Covid-19 is having on current healthcare. Many issues have come up including: home monitoring of symptoms, impact on mental health and impact of healthcare workers’ absenteeism. These issues have come up as people look to manage problems most effectively and efficiently. The Research and Evidence Team at the CCG, along with Professor Nicki Walsh who works across UWE, the CCG and the Applied Research Collaborative (ARC-West) are working with the local commissioners to manage these requests. These important questions are then fed to the Applied Research Collaborative West team, who co-ordinate researchers from UWE and the University of Bristol, creating a rapid response team to retrieve and synthesise evidence, or provide other advice to support evaluation, healthcare modelling, statistics and economics.

The emphasis of this approach is the rapid turnaround system. Most requests are processed within 48 hours from the point of the CCG submitting a question, to the academic providing that support and reporting back to the CCG. Nicki is the overall co-ordinator at UWE for all this because of her work across the different partner organisations.

In place, there is now a good pool of UWE and UoB researchers ready to respond to calls for assistance as and when they come in. Nicki says the response from academics has been excellent and hugely encouraging:

“This service requires academics to work in such a different way. Because it’s quick and by necessity not as in depth as traditional evidence reviews. Traditionally things can often progress quite slowly, but it’s been a totally different response and things are getting turned around quickly”.

An example of the CCG requests came at the start of April, concerning the accuracy of self-monitoring heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation in patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID infection.  Other reviews that UWE researchers have been involved in include: the potential impact of COVID-19 on mental health outcomes and the implications for service solutions, Dr Faith Martin, and how to retain infection control amongst residents with dementia and a tendency to walk with purpose, Professor Rik Cheston.

Nicki explained in more detail how resources were best pooled:

“All academics involved have suggested what their skill set is so we have a really good idea who can do what. If it’s something incredibly specific like health economics for example, there may only be quite a small pool of people who can contribute to that. But for things like evidence synthesis most academics are able respond to these requests. The emphasis at the minute is ensuring that we’re able to provide good enough evidence to help with decision making in a rapid responsive way.”

Nicki also suggested how the work could benefit future collaborative research opportunities:

“I think it’s really innovative and supportive to our NHS colleagues. It also potentially creates further questions that could be researched later.”

The evidence syntheses are being regularly updated and are openly available here.

Professor Julie Mytton

Julie Mytton is a Professor of Child Health and a member of HAS’s Centre for Health and Clinical Research. She has specialised in public health research since 2006, with a particular interest in injuries and injury prevention. She is also a qualified medic.

Julie is one of many other UWE academics working with the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing who are receiving calls for work from the CCG (via Nicki Walsh). She has also been in contact with University Hospitals Bristol NHS trust, and as a medic has joined their bank staff, providing clinical care support as and when needed.

Julie also noted that there is a Public Health Registrar, Alasdair Wood, based at UWE to offer further support.

Professor Jonathan Benger

Jonathan Benger, a Professor in Emergency Care and a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, has been released from his current clinical and academic duties, at the request of the National Medical Director, to assist in leading the national response to Coronavirus in his role as interim Chief Medical Officer at NHS Digital.

Professor Jo Michell

Jo Michell is an Associate Professor in Economics. His current research interests include macroeconomics, money and banking and income distribution. As soon as the nationwide lockdown was announced, Jo co-wrote a paper for the journal Autonomy outlining how “in order to cope with the increasingly severe reduction in economic activity in the UK, guaranteeing the incomes of all those who are eligible for in-work or out-of-work benefits is rapidly becoming a necessary policy lever.

This idea was picked up by John McDonnell (the then Shadow Chancellor), and it’s possible it may have played a role in influencing Rishi Sunak’s (the Chancellor) subsequent announcements. A follow up letter by Jo and 97 other economists was penned to The Times, and published on Monday 23rd March, “insisting that the government goes significantly further in its economic response to the Covid-19 crisis.”

Professor Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is Associate Professor in Public Health. His research specialises in the contribution that third sector and civil society initiatives make towards promoting public health and wellbeing. Mat and other colleagues in the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing (CPHWB) have authored a report entitled Apart but not Alone: Neighbour Support and the Covid-10 Lockdown.

Carried out in Bristol and the West Country between 6th-12th April 2020, over 500 respondents reported back on neighbourhood initiatives during lockdown restrictions. A whole range have sprung up in recent weeks: social media support groups, food and medication collections, telephone calls, Zoom chats, leafleting. Interestingly, many neighbourhood groups were already in place before formal local/national efforts had been mobilised.

Of those who responded, the overwhelming majority felt that neighbours were supporting each other well. Mat Jones et.al did note however contrasting answers from those based in areas of high social disadvantage, with an emphasis on such neighbours supporting people with financial difficulties, those with disabilities or mobility issues, and people without easy access to outdoor spaces.

Perhaps most noteworthy were the gender in-balance responses (80% female): “an important issue is whether the practical and emotional work of supporting neighbours is falling disproportionately on women.”

Professor Sue Durbin

Sue Durbin is Professor in Human Resource Management and is a member of the Centre for Employment Studies Research in FBL. Sue has researched and written on gender and employment, specialising in women who work in male dominated industries. She is a co-founder, along with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical Society, of the alta mentoring scheme, a bespoke industry-wide mentoring programme designed for women/by women. Mentors and mentees can connect to this mentoring platform online or in person.

It is within the context of Covid-19 that alta can be seen to play a crucial role, with existing and new members utilising its online tool. Indeed, the value of online mentoring has never been so important, as Sue explains:

“It may become a time for mentors and mentees to take stock of where they are in their careers and where they would like to go.

Mentors can therefore best be utilised via the alta platform, at a safe distance but offering comfort and advice to women who may be feeling especially isolated, vulnerable or lacking confidence if their roles have been furloughed. Or they may simply want to reach out and turn the current situation into a more positive one.

“During the current pandemic, the restrictions on movement and new ways of working remotely have resulted in a physical disconnect from family, friends and colleagues. For those who already have an established mentoring relationship, this can be a crucial source of support, facilitating an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to discuss concerns and keep connected during this unprecedented time.”