University Enterprise Zone Spotlight: Future Space

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Future Space is one of four areas that make up UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone. The below spotlight explains a bit about them:

Who we are

Future Space is an innovation centre, based on UWE Bristol‘s Frenchay campus, within the University Enterprise Zone. The centre offers a range of office space, laboratories, workshops, and coworking facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science-based entrepreneurs and innovators. Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s largest operator of innovation centres, and manages a growing network of over 25 innovation centres in the UK.

A former head chef, a PhD in cancer genetics, and one of the region’s top 75 innovators; just some of the eclectic accolades of our Future Space Team. With a wealth of experience in business, and managing lab and workspace, we’re on hand to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

What we offer to business

There are many reasons why Future Space is a fantastic location for growing science and technology businesses: Purpose built laboratories; Customisable workshops; and a range of flexible offices and shared spaces. A distinct advantage is the positioning of the centre – on UWE Bristol campus and co-located with the Health Tech Hub and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

We also have an onsite Innovation team to oversee all the business needs of our community and provide practical business support for our tech and life science residents. As well as running peer networks and 1:1 support, the team organises free expert advice for resident businesses, connects companies with the University, and designs and develops a varied support programme of workshops and Q&As.

An event held in the Hub Space of the University Enterprise Zone

How we work with UWE

Our Innovation team works closely with UWE Bristol to drive collaboration opportunities. If you are a small company in the early stages of development, it can be difficult to find the capacity to carry out all aspects of running the business as well as giving focus to building your product and services. The knowledge and expertise you have in-house is also likely to be limited. Universities can play a key role in helping SMEs grow, with access to skills training, student and graduate resource, academic expertise, and an abundance of practical advice.

Businesses based at Future Space have benefitted from more than 200 engagements with UWE Bristol, from the use of specialist equipment at the university, to funded business assist support through programmes such as the Health Technology Accelerator Programme and SABRE. This support has enabled companies to build new products and services, as well as giving access to valuable knowledge and technical expertise that is needed in the early stages of development.

You can read more in our recent article.

What’s new for 2021/2022

Student and graduate engagement with SMEs are a core focus in the centre, with residents offered fully funded UWE Bristol internships, as well as regular chances to pitch project briefs to degree and masters level students. This year we launched our new internship programme aimed at post-graduate students, as well as undergraduate students – more than 40 interns have been employed in the Future Space community over the years, and these internships bring in vital skills and talent to resident businesses. We will be developing this programme further in 2021/22.

This year, our team also got involved in UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund, delivering innovation training as part of the ‘Innovation & Bid-writing’ course, delivered to SMEs in the region. This was a great opportunity for SMEs and our Future Space community, and we are committed to working closely on future programmes.

Our strong affiliation with UWE Bristol brings a huge amount of opportunities for resident businesses, from student and graduate engagement, to innovation support, and funding opportunities. The impact of all of this work is seen in the great successes of our community, and you can read about some of these in our cases studies and blogs. We’re excited to see what’s next.

For further information about Future Space please contact info@futurespacebristol.co.uk

UWE Bristol and Future Space listed as top Innovators in region

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TechSPARK recently produced their list of top entrepreneurs, techies and innovators who they have named the Top Innovators in the region.

TechSPARK is a not-for-profit network dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening the digi-tech cluster in the West. They work with tech and digital businesses from Startups to Scaleups, SME’s to Global Corporations based in the region to help them to grow.

In 2019 TechSPARK compiled a list of top innovators from across the region to celebrate and recognise their achievements. We were delighted that the 2021 list featured Aimee Skinner, Innovation Manager at Future Space and Mark Corderoy, Entrepreneur in Residence at UWE Bristol.

Aimee said:

“I am thrilled to have been named as one of the region’s top 75 innovators. The list is brimming with innovative thinkers, future leaders, and entrepreneurs, and I am proud to be considered amongst them.”

Aimee has background in Environmental Science and a decade of continuous improvement experience in regulated industries. She is currently Innovation Manager at Future Space, as well as co-managing Bristol Innovators’ Group. Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone, based on UWE Bristol Frenchay campus, and managed by Oxford Innovation. In her role she actively supports the growth of start-ups and SMEs within the South West, providing a range of business support and advisory services, as well as running University engagement opportunities, such as a dedicated Internship programme for resident businesses.

Mark said:

“It’s really pleasing that our work in the University Enterprise Zone is being recognised. Launching a start-up is an ambitious venture for anyone, and we are always trying to find new ways to help these companies succeed.”

With a background in engineering and technology in a variety of commercial settings, Mark is an experienced Technologist and Mentor. He has been at UWE Bristol for last four years as Incubation Manager for the Bristol Robotics Laboratory the leading and largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK and also Incubation Manager for Launch Space, a programme that provides business support and space to start-up businesses in UWE Bristol’s Enterprise Zone.

To contact Aimee email ASkinner@oxin.co.uk and to contact Mark email Mark.Corderoy@uwe.ac.uk .



Future Space businesses supporting next generation of innovative talent in Bristol

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20 young people have been given access to internships at Future Space in Bristol thanks to programmes funded by UWE Bristol.

Future Space is co-located with UWE Bristol and provides workspace, meeting rooms, labs, and workshops to more than 50 innovative Bristol businesses.

To mark World Youth Skills Day the team is celebrating the interns, who are all completing eight or 16-week internships within their resident businesses.

The internship programme has been so popular with its residents that Future Space worked with UWE Bristol to extend the funding to make 2021 its biggest year yet.

The programme has offered internships in engineering, VR, AI, explosives, biomedical sciences and more to 40 young people in Bristol since Future Space launched in 2016.

Bristol is often named as one of the most innovative cities in the UK, and in 2019 it was shortlisted for the European City of Innovation Award.

One of those young people is Jessika Perdomo, 22, from Bogota. Jessika has just graduated in Environmental Health at UWE Bristol, where she is also a BAME advocate and part of their Widening Participation programme.

The programme ensures the university attracts a more diverse student body and ensures they have access to all university opportunities so they are able to fulfil their potential.

Jessika heard about the internship opportunities through Aimee Skinner, Innovation Manager at Future Space.

Jessika says:

“I was looking for opportunities to gain work experience. Aimee told me that they’re recruiting here at Future Space through the internship, and now I’m part of the customer service team at Service Robotics. It’s been a very flexible role because it’s a start-up, and that’s what attracted me to the role. The flexibility means you get to learn skills that are transferable.

I’ve now been offered a full-time role with Service Robotics and I’m so happy because it feels like a family. I didn’t know I was going to enjoy it so much so it has surprised me and I’m excited for the future.”

Rob Parkes, CEO at Service Robotics, says:


“We’ve had five interns through Future Space so far and it’s been really successful. Now that we’ve offered Jessika a full time job we will have two interns who have been offered employment with us.

We’re a startup so we don’t have much money, so anything that’s funded is a big help. We’re also very busy so this programme allows us to tap into the right pool of talent without having to spend time scouring the market.”

Aimee Skinner, Innovation Manager at Future Space, says:

“It is vital for our city’s economy and future that we give the next generation of innovators in Bristol a chance to work at the cutting edge of science and technology. This programme also provides funding for Future Space businesses to bring in vital skills to their companies so that they can work on research and kick-start projects that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to progress.

This is especially important right now, when many young people have been cut off from these opportunities due to the pandemic. This year we’re delighted to be working with students from every faculty of the university, from photography undergraduates to forensic science masters. Some of them have already been offered full-time employment here and we’re all looking forward to seeing where it might take them in the future.”

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

“We are passionate about skills development and providing opportunities for all. For us, pairing our innovative businesses that are part of Future Space with our eager to learn students is a no brainer. The internship scheme provides the businesses with access to our talent and provides the students with vital industry experience and helps them to develop skills needed for the future.”

Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone.

Innovative SMEs gather to develop their digital innovation business ideas

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On the 7 and 8 July 2021, UWE Bristol hosted an in person innovation workshop for SMEs in the region. The workshop was funded as part of UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund, which was is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Innovation leads came together to deliver interactive creative workshops to SMEs. The sessions provided much needed time for small business owners to get away from their desks or kitchen table. For most this was the first time since early 2020 that they had been in a workshop or networking environment. The attendees worked on innovative ideas with like-minded people and got their mindset and innovative concepts ready for funding. The delivery team included Thanh Quan-Nicholls (Digital Innovation), Aimee Skinner (Future Space), Mark Corderoy (Launch Space), Lucy Paine (Innovation for Growth) and Alan Gould (Lightholm Consulting).

The workshops were held at at Future Space, part of the University Enterprise Zone.

Businesses learnt techniques for ideation, honed their pitching skills, learnt about investment and funding, and fine-tuned their bid-writing skills. Businesses also had to rapidly solve problems, pitched for chocolate and became bid reviewers. Future Space transformed their networking space into a spacious and safe area for businesses to gather and it was wonderful to see the space so lively!

Thanh Quan-Nicholls, Digital Innovation Lead UWE says:

“So much has changed over this last year and as the markets recover it is important for SMEs to dedicate time for innovation as this will be the key to their future competitiveness and growth.

It was great after so long to see businesses working together in person – at these events, businesses also learn from each other and this is the part that is hardest to recreate remotely. Businesses told us they find meeting other innovative businesses empowering and motivating. The warm and inspiring cohort reminded us of best of the region’s spirit of collaboration and diversity.”

The businesses sectors were very wide-ranging, including creative technologies, visitor economy, edtech, legaltech, not-for-profits, engineering, software and marketing. They included new start-ups right through to established businesses.

Businesses attending get to bid over the next few weeks for micro grants of up to £5000 to implement their ideas. This forms part of UWE’s commitment to providing a supportive and accessible business infrastructure.

Tracey John, Director of RBI says:

“Putting time into upskilling disruptive businesses and helping them access new opportunities is a key part of ensuring diversity and economic growth. We are creating a pipeline of innovative and ambitious businesses for the future.”

Find out more about the Digital Innovation Fund here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more about KTPs please visit our website.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Future Space trials Robot Tours

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Future Space, in partnership with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), recently trialled an innovative new approach to providing tours of its facility, enabling people to view its workshop, laboratory and networking spaces from the comfort of their own homes and offices.

Using their personal IT devices to remotely control the movements of a self-driving, two-wheeled videoconferencing robot, potential new Future Space members were given the freedom to explore the unique, state-of-the-art space, while also being able to communicate with staff through a live video link.

Developed by Double Robotics Inc, this exciting technology helps people to feel more connected to colleagues, friends or patients, by having a physical presence, even if they are unable to attend an event or meeting in person. The robot is involved in several UWE Bristol research projects currently underway at BRL.

“We start by co-designing and trialling the technology in our purpose-built Assisted Living Studio,” says Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly, BRL’s Assistive Robotics and Intelligent Health Technologies lead. “We develop, test and implement various assistive robots and heterogeneous sensor systems in this realistic environment before taking them into real-world settings. The next stage, as we are doing with the Double telepresence robot, is evaluating its use in health and social care settings. We are particularly interested in how it can allow nurses, social workers and doctors to remotely interact with patients and are exploring this as part of our partnership with North Bristol Trust.”

Read the full story.

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.

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 Homelync joins forces with Aico to expand market leading social landlord Internet of Things platform

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Homelync, who started in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) Hardware Incubator before graduating to Future Space, have been acquired by Aico.

Homelync are an award-winning, innovative technology firm that specialise in smart home integration and analytics technology. With industry-leading expertise in the Internet of Things (IoT), software development and integration, the Homelync team are at the forefront of this progressive market. Homelync have widely rolled out integrated IoT solutions for social landlords across the UK to help them tackle challenges associated with cost savings, maintenance efficiency, decarbonization, tenant safety, fuel poverty, and social care. This is done by leveraging an ecosystem of leading IoT devices including temperature, humidity, CO2, fire safety, water leak, boilers, and energy.

Aico is the UK market leader in domestic Fire and Carbon Monoxide protection, pioneering new technologies and offering high quality Fire and Carbon Monoxide alarms. Known for their focus on education, quality, service and innovation they are the premium brand in social housing. After the successful roll out of their popular SmartLINK Gateway, and due to customer demand, they have ambitious plans to expand further into the social housing Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home market.

This acquisition represents a significant step forward for IoT in social housing at a time when the market has recently seen significant growth. The acquisition gives landlords the opportunity to invest in IoT over a longer term investment cycle by providing an additional layer of confidence that couples Homelync’s innovation with the resources of a well-established brand that is trusted in the sector. Aico’s heritage of 30 years standing provides great strength for all landlords.

Read the full story here. The BRL Hardware Incubator and Future Space are 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, 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.