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New initiative Bristol Innovations expands potential for transformative research

Professor Hugh Brady and panellists [left to right]: Martin Sadler OBE, Mayor Marvin Rees, Reid Derby - The Golden Valley Development, Dr Fiona Hyland and Professor Michele Barbour

Professor Hugh Brady opens the event

Press release issued: 24 June 2022

The University of Bristol is launching Bristol Innovations, a new initiative that will combine its far-reaching research expertise with the industry know-how of global partners, leading to progressive sector-wide and multidisciplinary discoveries.

Bristol Innovations is a virtual network designed to increase opportunities for University academics, researchers and entrepreneurial students to collaborate with third party stakeholders to translate research for real-world purposes. It launches at a time when the UK government has pledged to turn the UK into a global innovation hub.

The initiative was announced today (24 June) at the University’s research and innovation hub at the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus. The first phase of the building, which opens next month, will be home to the Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI), an international university research institute that is pioneering transformative approaches to digital innovation. MyWorld, a University of Bristol-led programme for creative technologies, will join BDFI in the hub, in 2023. This will be the first facility to open as part of the new campus.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh Brady says: “The global landscape for research and innovation is undergoing rapid changes, which presents an opportunity for universities and industry to develop a more sustainable way forward.

“Bristol Innovations is an enormously exciting undertaking. It will allow us to support more academics to bring our world-class research to practical and meaningful applications that benefit the city, the region and the world.”

Supported by the Bristol Grid – a University of Bristol digital hub for entrepreneurial activities – Bristol Innovations will enhance the University’s efforts to apply its knowledge and expertise for the benefit of millions of people across the world.

This includes working with industry partners to identify and respond to social and economic needs; exploring new spin-out and start-up opportunities; investing in more resources for business development; offering more consultancy and licencing opportunities; and working with third parties through knowledge exchange, public engagement and research commercialisation.

“In recent years the University has seen a rapid increase in enterprise and innovation activity, with our spin-outs and start-ups receiving more investment in 2021 than ever before, as well as sustained growth and diversification of our partnerships with industry, third sector and community organisations,” says Professor Michele Barbour, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation. 

“This growth has served to inspire other members of the academic community to consider this route as means to realise the impact of their research, and a growing enthusiasm to engage with the enterprise agenda.”

Bristol Innovations builds on the University’s reputation as a thriving powerhouse for world-leading research and innovation. This was evidenced by the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, which assessed 94% of its research to be world-leading or internationally excellent, prompting the Times Higher Education to boost Bristol to fifth place for research in the UK.

Dr Jon Hunt, Executive Director of Research and Enterprise, adds: “Bristol Innovations will enable us to scale up how we already work with other organisations to achieve impact, creating the products and services we all need in what we call the ‘push’, Knowledge Exchange, or ‘Enterprise’.  

“However, the uniqueness of Bristol Innovations is about identifying the gaps, where our research could make the world a better place, but we lack the right partner organisations to work with us. Bristol Innovations will help us create or partner with just such organisations, to enable a ‘pull’.”

Further information

The Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus includes a number of planned developments across 16 acres in total. The principle academic building on Cattle Market Road will be home to 4,600 students and 1,000 university staff, business and community partners and the residential accommodation on Temple Island will provide for 950 students. The public realm will be an open and welcoming space for everyone to enjoy. The new campus will help join the city centre to the east of Bristol with new walking and cycling paths – including a new eastern entrance from Temple Meads station - and deliver an estimated £626 million of employment and financial benefit to the regional economy over the next decade. The main construction build on the Cattle Market Road site is anticipated to get underway in April 2023.

Bristol Digital Futures Institute was launched in 2019 to transform the way digital technology is created for a more inclusive, prosperous and sustainable society. The £100m Institute is pioneering a different approach to digital technology innovation, bringing together social and technological expertise from across the University of Bristol and partners in academia, industry, government and local communities. Funded by Research England (£29 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund - UKRPIF) and partners, it will open this year as the first research hub on the University’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

MyWorld was launched in April 2021 and is the flagship for the UK’s creative sector and is part of a UK-wide exploration into devolved research and development funding. ​It is one of seven programmes funded by the UKRI Strength in Places Fund (£30 million) and is made up of 13 collaborators from the region’s creative technologies sector and world-leading academic institutions to create a unique cross-sector consortium. ​MyWorld has a creative mission to showcase the latest advances in digital production and research. With its unique set of creative partners and research collaborators, it will present a set of trailblazing augmented, experimental, and immersive experiences. Bristol and Bath are world renowned for their innovations in technology, original research and creativity in film and television production. Collaborating partner organisations range from Oscar-winning animators to digital entrepreneurs. Technologies include the latest development in film and television visual and audio production, volumetric capture, mixed reality, motion capture, photogrammetry, virtual production, digital doubles, remote robotics, avatar creation… and much more.

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