Access to Justice: Open Source LegalTech Hackathon 19, 24 and 31 March

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How do we use technology better to help those that need it most? 

The Challenge

Bringing the legal industry together with third sector, technologists and innovators, to rapidly design ideas on how we can purposefully use open source technology to ensure access to justice for all. We are calling for SMEs in the West of England to be part of an event that will rapidly prototype solutions for improved legal opportunities and legal service outreach. Together we will build a collaborative community that is focussed on solving problems for all.

Why Access to Justice?

The pandemic is widening the justice gap, with a sharp increase in the problems that many people face at a time when it is harder to get legal support. It has exacerbated many justice issues for those in vulnerable groups and low-income communities who are hardest hit by job or rental insecurity, homelessness and eviction, cybercrime and reduced access to criminal justice systems – now more than ever there are more people needing access to legal advice and help with understanding their rights.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a competition, usually held over the course of a couple of days. It is a collaboration between small teams of business people and software developers to develop a product, service or platform that addresses a specific challenge. It is an opportunity for people with a common goal to come together to harness their ideas and build solutions for the future. We will bring together the growing legaltech community across the West of England area and take this diverse group through a creative design sprint process to rapidly develop and prototype ideas/demonstrators.

The event culminates in a pitching competition before a panel of judges, who score the pitches along the challenge criteria and select a winner. We will run workshops to help participants can learn more about the subject of the challenge and the capabilities of open source – in our case, justice, legal services, lawtech and using open source technologies to enable access to justice.

We are inviting registrations from SMEs across the region who deliver justice, advice, support, technology, business and innovation. Spaces are limited, so register now. Participation in the hackathon is by selection. Registration does not guarantee a place. We will notify the final participants separately by email.

SMEs: Register here

If you are not an SME or you are not based in the West of England but you wish to be part of the LegalTech hackathon delivery or to join the wider network, please contact Thanh Quan-Nicholls Thanh.quan-nicholls@uwe.ac.uk to discuss this further or register here.

How to take part and Key Dates

  • Sign up to the Open Source LegalTech Hackathon here.
  • You will need to commit to all three days plus a minimum of 4 hours working as a remote team on your legaltech solution during that week.
  • You will need a computer or laptop with a camera, internet access, ability to download meeting apps and file sharing software such as Zoom, MS Teams, Github, Slack etc and somewhere to work where you won’t disturb others.
  • Each team will have a mentor who will help organise, support prototyping and problem solve any issues.
  • Hackathon Days: 19 March, 24 March and 31 March, 9:30am – 1.30pm

View the full hackathon guidance here.

This event is delivered by the Digital Innovation Fund and funded by the ERDF for the benefit of SMEs in the West of England. We will be guiding SMEs and Social Enterprises through the enterprise innovation and ideation process, creative design sprints and agile working practices to support new product design, improve resource efficiency and R&D activities. Your attendance at this event will count towards to State Aid and by participating, you are agreeing to ERDF business support and accompanying documentation


European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive 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.

Exciting Professional Development Courses available from the Centre for Fine Print Research this summer

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Exciting Professional Development Courses available from the Centre for Fine Print Research this summer

This summer, the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at UWE Bristol will be offering up some of its experts for some professional development courses open to the public.

Take a look below for previews of some of the available courses. The full course list can be found here:

1, 2 & 3 section compendium of bookbinding skills for publishing practice

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 14 – 15 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

In this two-day workshop practicing binders will learn new techniques and methods to enhance their repertoire in an approachable manner suitable for those just beginning to hone their skills. Using modified pamphlet stitches, chain stitches, and flexible long-stitch bindings, students will craft a series of book structures that are refined, easily adaptable, and suitable for editioning text and visual content.

Find out more and book here.

Japanese Scroll (maki-mono) & Accordion (ori-hon) Book Making 

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 22-23 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

This is an intensive two-day workshop learning the traditional Japanese art of scroll making. This structure is the oldest form of book in Japan, combining washi (mulberry paper), nori (rice paste) and cloth. Over the two days you will learn the techniques of backing cloth with paper to create book cloth using the urauchi method, alongside the skills to attach sections of paper or prints together to create invisible, seamless pages stretching for meters, bound with silk ribbon. The materials used for the scroll are all archival and sourced in Japan. The traditional processes taught on this workshop will allow you to use these skills in contemporary book arts projects. This workshop is being hosted exclusively for Centre for Fine Print Research.

Find out more and book here.

Platinum/Palladium Workshop

  • Course duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 23-27 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Platinum printing is the aristocracy of the early photographic processes. The image is composed of very finely divided platinum and palladium metals that are more stable and longer lasting than silver based prints. Developed first in the 1860s and 1870s, the technique became very popular with fine art printers because of its very delicate highlights and mid-tones. This Workshop offers demonstrations and hands-on opportunity to explore this classic printing technique. No prior experience is necessary.

Find out more and book your place here.

Preparing Digital Negatives – including QuadTone RIP

  • Course duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 02-06 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

This workshop will show you how to use your digital images to make inkjet transparencies for contact printing using the genuine early photographic processes. There will be opportunities during the workshop to make cyanotypes (aka blueprints), salt and kallitype prints from your own images and on art papers of your choice. The workshop will enable participants to prepare digital negatives – printed on transparency film via desk-tip inkjet printers – for use with a wide variety of these processes, including cyanotype, platinum, Van Dyke, carbon and photogravure printing.

Course participants will not need prior experience with early photographic printing, but some familiarity with Photoshop or other image manipulation software would be helpful.

Find out more and book your place here.

Japanese Water-based Woodcut Printmaking (Mokuhanga)

  • Course Duration: 3 Days
  • Dates: 19 – 21 July 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £349.00 full price / £279.00 concessionary price

During this immersive three-day workshop, you will be introduced to the traditional Japanese art of woodblock printing. Mokuhanga is perfect for anyone interested in a non-toxic, table-top printmaking technique. Over the course of the three days, you will learn the skills to transfer an image to Japanese plywood and carve various colour separation blocks in relief, following in the tradition of Japanese Ukiyo-e printing. With no mechanical press required, only a hand held ‘baren’, you will learn the techniques to achieve various print effects, from ‘sesame printing’ to ‘bokashi’ (gradation), while registering your multi-block image through the simple but brilliant traditional ‘kento’ registration system. You will be sure to fall in love with both the process and results of this accessible, meditative, water-based printmaking method which provides endless possibilities.

Find out more and book your place here.

Photogravure: An Early Photographic Printing Process with a Modern Twist

  • Course Duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 06 – 10 September 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, sometimes almost sterile appearance of modern digital images. The early photographic processes (aka alternative photography) require a real hands-on approach in the choice of paper, chemistry and coating, and provide every opportunity for the printmaker to produce individual and beautifully aesthetic work.

This five-day course will introduce course delegates to all the key aspects of the process. Delegates will be able to make gravure prints from at least three of their own photographic images, using film negatives, photographic prints or digital files. This course is suitable for beginners and no prior experience of intaglio printing or Photoshop (a computer program for editing digital images) is required. All materials will be provided.

Find out more and book your place here.

MOT’ing your art practice

  • Course duration: 2 Days
  • Date: 18-19 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 Full £199.00 concessionary price.

Suitable for practicing artists at any stage of development, creating in any format, willing to share something of themselves and their output with honesty and humour.

Over the two days Emma will introduce a series of practical tools with which to unpack, reflect upon and repack your art practice. By the end of the course, you will have a deeper understanding of what it is you do and why you do it. You will be able to talk with more fluidity about your output, ride the ups and downs of fluctuating motivation and feel more confident about managing your own development going forward.  

Find out more and book here.

Poetic Artists’ Books

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Dates: 11-12 August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 full price / £199.00 concessionary price

Join Jeremy Dixon, the poet and artist’s book maker, for two days of inspirational, practical work devoted to producing your own unique poetic artists’ book. We will examine artists’ books long association with poetry and how such books can reflect, amplify and/or become the themes of the poetry they contain. We will use an eclectic range of poetic and practical bookmaking techniques including concrete poetry, erasure poetry, Found poetry, collage, pamphlets, zines, stab binding and collaboration to create new and exciting work. This will be an energetic, practical two days looking at words and poetry in fun and inclusive ways, and aims to give participants the confidence and techniques to find new ways of using words and poetry in their own practice.

Find out more and book here.

Early Photographic Printing Processes

  • Course Duration: 5 Days
  • Date: 20 -24 September 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £749.00 Full £599.00 concessionary price.

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, perhaps almost sterile, appearance of modern digital images. This course will introduce participants to five important early processes and participants will be able to make at least one print with each processe using their own images. Materials and equipment are provided, all that is necessary is to bring along those special images ready to be made into stunning and unique prints.

Find out more and book your place here

Tetra Pak Printmaking

  • Course Duration: 2 Days
  • Date: 4– 5August 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
  • Price: £249.00 Full £199.00 concessionary price.

With its layers of paperboard, polyethylene, aluminum foil, Tetra Pak; offers not only an immediacy which other collagraph materials lack, but also a satisfying tactility when cutting, scoring, peeling and printing with this distinctive material. During this two-day introductory workshop into Tetra Pak collagraph print, the course tutor, Stephen Fowler, will facilitate the exploration of intaglio and relief print, a combination of the two processes, and the potential of mutli-plate printing.  On day two there will be time to play, create and develop your own body of prints. 

Find out more and book here.


The courses have very limited numbers so book now to avoid disappointment.

The Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol functions as a platform for innovative multidisciplinary research investigating creative practice through historical, scientific and industrial exchange. The research outputs of the Centre range from education, publication, collaboration and small-scale productions in all aspects of print history, practice, manufacturing and materials. Working with industry the Centre inspires cross pollination adding value by offering a unique creative perspective, enabling a practice led space for problem-solving experimentation.

UWE Bristol Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project selected to be showcased on EU Innovation Radar Website

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The Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project has been recognised by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar team has an Innovation Highlight and will be showcased on their website.

The project, which follows on from the Living Architecture research programme, is a joint venture between UWE Bristol, Newcastle University and Translating Nature.

The aim of ALICE is to introduce and familiarise sustainably-minded promotors such as architects, designers, engineers, “green” businesses and their clients, to advocate the use live microbes as processors of waste within our homes and cities.

ALICE aims to provide a publicly accessible interface that is activated by household waste, namely urine and grey water. It exploits the properties of the integrated bioreactor system developed for the Living Architecture (LIAR) project. Creating a useable context and habitat that can be exhibited at biennales or festivals and explored by these audiences. ALICE catalyses a conversation about the future of sustainability in homes and public buildings, as well as the lifestyle changes implicit in adopting this new generation of utilities.

ALICE is a highly personal experience where ‘users’ may understand how waste can be dealt with differently in the home by putting it to good use. ALICE takes the form of a cabin and through a digital interface that translates data into graphical animations, participants will be able to see how their waste ‘enlivens’ the cabin’s performance. For example, turning on LEDs, or charging small mobile devices.

Conceptually, ALICE may be likened to the ‘tamagotchi pet’, a digital toy that flourishes through the owner’s digital care and attention. In this way, ‘care’ for ALICE is through its feeding and engagement with audiences. The system will also collect data that will help the innovators better understand the performance and potential usage of such a system outside the laboratory space so that appropriate prototypes for market can be developed.

UWE Bristol lead for the project Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor of Bioenergy and Self-Sustainable Systems and Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, commented on the project: We are delighted for this recognition by the European Commission, which is an important milestone in our endeavour to make this technology widely available. The work of our partners has enabled the successfully translation of a complex technology into a visual representation that is highly appealing to a wide audience and this could have only been achieved through open-minded collaboration. We very much look forward to seeing this installed in everyone’s home.

Congratulations to Ioannis and the team for the recognition of their project.

Dr Shawn Sobers awarded Arts and Humanities Research Council EDI Engagement Fellowship

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Associate Professor in Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice and UWE Bristol alum, Dr Shawn Sobers, has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Engagement Fellowship alongside nine other humanities researchers. The funding is to further the impact of their EDI research.

Fellows will work with communities to explore topics including the loneliness epidemic in LGBTQ+ communities and the forgotten relationship between the city of Bath and Ethiopian culture. The fellows will be supported by a total investment of over £850,000 which will be used to engage diverse audiences with their outstanding research.

Shawn’s research project looks at Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I who lived in Bath, and is considered God incarnate by members of the Rastafari faith. This interdisciplinary project uses the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I and his connection to Bath as the basis of a seven-month series of events celebrating openness and cultural inclusivity. It will build connections between local communities and encourage conversation and cross-cultural connections.

Research into the arts and humanities can bring new perspectives to the way we think about contemporary challenges. When such research is rooted in engagement with the communities and issues affecting the public, it can drive real-world change. This funding will enable EDI Engagement Fellows to develop a range of exciting engagement opportunities including community workshops and a bespoke festival. These opportunities will connect existing academic research with communities across the UK to deliver research with a tangible impact on society and help shape future EDI policies.

Other research includes:

  • Professor Anna Fox, who will host a series of innovative workshops and mentorship activities to drive awareness of women’s unheard stories using photography and story-telling practices.
  • Dr Patricia Noxolo, whose work will include three artistic provocations designed to provoke discussion about everyday negotiations between security and insecurity that different races experience.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said:

“Learning about our heritage and culture and participating in the arts can deepen our perception of our history and of ourselves. 

“These fellowships will enable researchers to connect their scholarship with diverse communities across the UK and bring about positive change.

“Arts and humanities research has tremendous potential to help people to embrace different viewpoints and to build a fairer, more inclusive society.”

AHRC has a longstanding commitment to upholding the principles of equality, diversion and inclusivity in all activities and AHRC is committed to creating a more inclusive research and innovation environment.

Congratulations to Shawn on this achievement.


About the Arts and Humanities Research Council The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe. ahrc.ukri.org.

Case study: How happy is your pig?

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Professor Melvyn Smith was recently interviewed by KTN about his research into the emotional state of pigs. The below case study was written by Alan Cowie at KTN as part of their annual report:

Innovation in agriculture has advanced significantly over the past century. In 1920 it would take a farmer an hour and a half to till one acre of land. In 2020, it takes 5 minutes. It’s not just the technology which has effected change, it’s ever-changing societal attitudes which continue to revolutionise not only agriculture but other industries too.

Today’s farmer is not only interested in their animals’ physical health, but also their emotional wellbeing. We’re not pretending these animals are not being reared for food, but we all have a responsibility to ensure animals are content, happy and healthy throughout their lives, and healthier animals deliver higher yields.

One person who is doing that more than most is Mel Smith, a professor at the Centre for Machine Vision (CMV), based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is jointly run by the University of the West of England (UWE) and Bristol University. It was originally set up in 1999 to study industrial inspection, metrology, surface analysis and quality control. Over the years, and with extensive support from KTN, the CMV has completed projects in defence, health and, more recently, AgriFood. Projects have involved an EPSRC[1] funded trial using 3D imaging technology for facial recognition, examining the colon and the oesophagus for tumours and polyps, and 2D imaging grass fields using a convolutional neural network to locate and identify species of weed.

Where Mel wants to make a real impact is in animal welfare. “Tagging a pig’s ear can cause pain and distress to the pig” explains Mel. “Tags can also get ripped off and they get dirty. So what if there was a way of identifying the pig without even touching it?” This is where Mel’s photometric stereo technology comes in. In a recent trial[2], a drinker was adapted and fitted with a motion activated webcam, which takes thousands of pictures of the pigs’ faces every day, feeding a computer algorithm which successfully identifies the animal with 97% accuracy. But this goes beyond facial recognition. Mel believes his work shows that pigs are revealing their emotional state through facial expression. Are they happy? Are they content? Are they nervous? 

“You can interrogate the neural network to ask it which parts of the image it’s using to tell whether it’s a happy face or not. It produces a heat map showing the areas of the face it’s using to assess happiness. For pigs’ faces, it is around the eyes, ears and the top of the snout which relate to expression.” 

Mel has been collaborating with other researchers on the potential of using existing technologies and applying them in new ways. In one example, he explains how a system which was originally designed to analyse aggregate particles in the construction industry, has found new uses in agriculture, to check the body condition score of livestock, a measure of the health and welfare of animals. Mel explains how it involves a camera which takes a normal image and a 3D depth image. Looking down on a cow, it captures data as it walks underneath. “We’re looking at how bony the animal is – around its hindquarter, where you have its hook and pin bones. If they’re sticking through, they have a low body condition and if they’re nice and fat and rounded, they have a high body condition.” 

Happier animals are more productive and deliver higher yields, so there is a commercial advantage, as well as a social advantage. In an industry where profit margins are often very tight, new practices which promote efficiency or boost productivity are usually welcomed. We may be some way off seeing widespread livestock facial recognition in all farms, but attention to our environment and ecology is only increasing. Who knows where we’ll be in the next century. We already have ‘free range’ and ‘organic’ stickers on our food. Will we have ‘certified pig happy’ too?

Be it for commercial or animal welfare benefits, it’s clear Mel is passionate about using this technology for good. Mel says “It’s about finding a niche where we can make a contribution and machine vision technology has real value for the wellbeing of animals. If we can be at the forefront of this, and do something that’s cutting edge, that’s quite a motivation for me.”

Whilst many of the technologies Mel describes are not necessarily new, they are being applied in novel ways, and KTN has played a key role creating new opportunities and new connections for Mel.

“KTN have had a transformational impact on helping us to deploy our Machine Vision skills to collaborate with agriculture and food industry partners. We have really benefitted from the ability to network through KTN. Their funding expertise and knowledge of the AgriFood industry has led us to many new innovation opportunities that we would not have identified ourselves. Several of these projects have resulted in products that are now reaching a commercial stage”.


[1] Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

[2] Watch “Connected – the hidden science of everything”, episode one, on Netflix.

Alan Cowie is the Partnership, PR and Communications Lead at KTN.

UWE Bristol working with research organisations in Africa and the UK to build capacity for research management and administration

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In an exciting new collaboration, a team drawn from three research organisations in Africa and five in the UK are working together to build capacity for research management and administration at their own universities and beyond. 

Staff in Africa from the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology and, in the UK, from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and the GW4 Alliance – the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter– are bringing together research development and management expertise to address barriers to north-south and south-south collaborations. 

The project involves an online survey among research managers and administrators (RMAs) across team members’ networks, designed to identify the skills and resource gaps and the operational and infrastructural challenges that RMAs face in both Africa and the UK. The team is very keen to hear from as many people as possible. If you work in this area you can take part in the survey via this link: https://redcap.link/qn5azr70.

By compiling and creating resources for competency-based training and best practice, the team also hope to develop RMAs’ capacity to build and deliver research partnerships professionally and equitably across countries and continents.  For RMAs working in donor countries, a better understanding of the local context in which their partners operate will also help strengthen collaboration and impact.

As well as the knowledge/skills gap scoping study, the project will involve conducting exchange visits, delivering an online knowledge exchange workshop and developing a competency-based draft training curriculum.  The collaboration is also extending participants’ networks and building their knowledge of evidence-based practice, which will support African institutions’ capacity to sustainably deliver research programmes.

The project forms part of the International Research Management Staff Development Programme (IRMSDP).  IRMSDP is an initiative of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in collaboration with the UK’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA).  Its aim is to enhance south-south and north-south collaborations, build mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures, and co-create resources that will benefit the wider research management community of practice.  ReMPro Africa, an initiative of the AAS, aims to fill critical gaps in the African research ecosystem to support a vibrant research culture and leadership at universities and research institutions.

This project, SMARTLife – Sustainable Management and Administration for Research: Training across the project Lifecycle – emerged through a rigorous process in which teams were first selected in the UK and Africa and then matched to form six combined international teams.  The project team is being led by Victoria Nembaware of the University of Cape Town and Simon Glasser of the University of Bristol.

The draft curriculum and a report on the project findings will be disseminated through the AAS and the various participating institutions and affiliated organisations.  The team hopes that the participating universities will continue to engage beyond this initiative and build their respective networks to facilitate further collaborations.

Notes

GW4 Alliance: The GW4 Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. From the creative arts to the physical sciences, the GW4 Alliance has world-leading scholarship, infrastructure and faculty. The GW4 Alliance aims to cultivate our regional economy, develop a highly skilled workforce and enhance the research and innovation ecosystem for the South West and Wales.

The GW4 Alliance has invested over £2.9m in 93 collaborative research communities, which are addressing major global and industrial challenges, and have generated over £46 million in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures over £15 in external research awards.

Find out more: http://gw4.ac.uk/

Knowledge Transfer Partnership with VQ Communications Graded Outstanding

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with VQ Communications has been graded Outstanding by Innovate UK.

The two year project aimed to embed knowledge of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine how ML/AI can be applied to VQ Communications complex systems to reduce support costs, boost engineering productivity and enable deployment of larger networks at lower cost and higher levels of service.

Mike Horsley, VQ Communications CEO commented: “It is very pleasing to see the investment made and the hard work, expertise and tenacity that the UWE/VQ team placed into this KTP being recognized in this manner.

VQ continues to invest in the AI/ML technology developed during the KTP and we are getting extremely encouraging results. The team has expanded to include an additional software engineer and we continue to work with the UWE team via a professional services agreement.

Advanced technology is difficult; it requires expertise and managed risk-taking. The KTP program enabled VQ to master a new technology and we are very excited about how the resulting new products and services will help our customers solve the problems they face and, by doing so, will enable VQ to further extend its market leadership and demonstrate continuing growth”.

Lead academic Professor Jim Smith, Professor in Interactive Artificial Intelligence, commented: “The partnership has been a fantastic opportunity to develop AI-based solutions together with a company, and the area: (improving video communication tools) couldn’t have been more topical during the pandemic.”

Based in Chippenham, VQ Communications produces software that allows customers to deploy and manage large video conferencing (also known as “Unified Communications”) services. VQ has established a leading market position over the last 15 years and VQ’s current product generation works with Cisco’s Meeting Server products and is being used by customers world-wide to deliver enterprise wide conferencing. VQ is a Cisco Solution Partner with Cisco recommending and selling VQ’s product.

UWE Bristol and VQ communications plan to continue their relationship together and have recently signed contracts to develop their work on the technology further.

View the VQ Communications case study here.

The 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.

How my job at UWE helped me launch my new business

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The below post is a guest blog from one of our Launch Space incubation managers Kim Brookes. Kim has recently set up her own business, Perfino. Kim talks about how her job at UWE has helped to launch the business:

How my job at UWE helped me launch my new business 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kim Brookes and I am one of two Incubation Managers at Launch Space, UWE’s graduate start up Incubator based in the University Enterprise Zone. 

I have been working at UWE for many years now giving advice and support to students and now graduates, alongside my other entrepreneurial endeavours. I love working with people who are brimming with ideas, energy and a can do attitude, and often feel I learn as much from them as they do from me. Starting a business is always a bit of a rollercoaster as nothing is certain and you learn as you go – there’s no such thing as failure in this world, just learning experiences, and an opportunity to grow as a person. 

So not so strange perhaps that after 3 years of ruminating on an idea that I thought had potential and which appealed to my obsession with fragrance, I have now launched my natural scent jewellery business, Perfino, and am currently crowd funding to help it grow. 

Perfino makes artisan jewellery that combines with wonderful natural scents to become your own personal diffuser. Studies show that 1/3 of us are intolerant to synthetic chemicals and that up to 60% of these chemicals can be absorbed into the bloodstream, making the wearing of commercial perfumes a bit of a gamble. So Perfino is offering an alternative way to smell great that is kind to the wearer and supports the sustainable production of natural essential oils around the world. 

The learning never stops and I look forward to sharing my experiences with the start-ups in Launch Space as we all embark on a very similar journey, soaking up all the knowledge that surrounds us.

Find out more about Perfino here.

Graduated from any UK university in the last 5 years and got a business idea you’d like to put into action? Launch Space offers free desk space and business support for budding entreprenuers. Find out more via our website.


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

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

Alumni wins UK Young Innovators Award from InnovateUK and the Princes Trust

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Product Design graduate and previous Launch Space resident Kieran Devlin has been awarded the UK Young Innovators Award from InnovateUK and the Princes Trust. The annual national awards scheme seeks out people with creative and ground-breaking business ideas. 

After graduating in 2019, Kieran entered UWE’s Launch Space Start-up Incubator where he began his business Revive Innovations. Building on his final year project, where he began investigating waste, the company are a sustainable design start-up creating innovative materials and products by recycling waste in unique ways. They are aiming to challenge consumer perceptions on recycled products and prove that they can be as beautiful and functional as ones made from virgin materials.

In September last year Revive won The Peoples Prize Award of the Blue Patch Sustainable Business Awards 2020 and achieved runners up in The Circular Economy Award.

Currently, the company is focusing on designing products using RE-CD, a recyclable composite made from old CDs. Kieran has also just released SLEEK-120, a range of bar stools made using RE-CD. 

Kieran commented on the win “I am incredibly proud to have been awarded with a UK Young Innovators Award from InnovateUK and the Princes Trust. The award has provided me with funding and tailored business support that is helping lead me towards my sustainable design ambitions.” 

Congratulations to Kieran on the award. To find out more or purchase Revive’s products visit their website here.  


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

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

UWE Bristol selected to deliver Small Business Leadership Programme – spaces available!

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UWE Bristol have been selected to deliver the Small Business Leadership Programme with the first cohort starting in January. Spaces are available but limited, so book now to avoid disappointment.

The Small Business Leadership Programme supports senior leaders to enhance their business’s resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19. It helps small and medium-sized businesses to develop their potential for future growth and productivity.

The fully-funded 10 week programme will be delivered online by small business and enterprise experts from world-leading business schools.

Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.

To join the Small Business Leadership Programme, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Your business must be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England
  • Your business needs to employ between 5 and 249 people and have been operational for at least one year
  • The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business with at least one person reporting directly to them
  • The participant must be able to commit to attending the full programme
  • A maximum of 2 individuals form any one organisation may attend

Our four cohorts will start on the following dates, with the full dates available on the registration page:

Cohort 1 – start date Monday 11 January 2021, 13.00 – 14.30
Cohort 2 – start date Tuesday 12 January 2021, 15.00 – 16.30
Cohort 3 – start date Monday 18 January 2021, 17.30 – 19.00
Cohort 4 – start date Tuesday 19 January 2021, 09.30 – 11.00

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “The strength of small businesses up and down the country will be vital as we begin to bounce back from coronavirus and re-build our economy. The Small Business Leadership Programme will help to equip small business leaders with the leadership and problem-solving skills they need to grow their firms in the wake of this pandemic.” 

Find out more here