University of Bristol gets green light for new ‘deep tech’ incubator

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A new £8.5 million tech incubator in Bristol is to open next year following an agreement between the University of Bristol and deep tech organization Science Creates.

The aim is to support university spin-outs in some of the critical areas prioritized by the government's Science and Technology Framework, such as engineering biology, quantum technology, AI and cyber security.

The £8.5 million project is being funded with a £4.75 million award from Research England Development, with a further £3.25 million in investment from Science Creates and £545,000 from the University of Bristol.

An existing industrial unit in Bristol, next to the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, will be refurbished to provide facilities including wet-labs, high security, and ultra-fast computer networking.

The incubator, OMX, is expected to have the capacity for around 275 new spin-out companies from universities in the west of England and beyond.

"The University of Bristol is a great powerhouse for spin-outs. This success is attributable to excellent research by world class academics combined with a high-quality research commercialization team and a vibrant, entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Dr Jon Hunt, the University of Bristol’s executive director for research, enterprise and innovation.

"I hope and expect many of these companies will thrive and grow to help us deliver on our mission to make a positive impact locally, nationally, and globally by addressing society’s greatest challenges."

The incubator will be the third such venture between Science Creates and the university, between them offering 45,000 square feet of laboratory, office and event space.

The first of these opened in 2017, and since then, an independent impact report released earlier this year found that the collaboration has helped create 370 new jobs and adds £125 million each year to the UK economy.

Major research programmes in the region’s universities have already created a large pipeline of potential spin-outs, participants said.


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Bristol has a growing cluster of engineering biology businesses working in areas such as cell therapies, vaccines, synthetically-produced red blood cells, and new drug platforms to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Meanwhile, companies in the region are also working on quantum computing systems and software, highly-precise sensors, and communications for ultra-secure networks.

As a result the university said one-third of the UK’s quantum technology startups are based in Bristol, with these companies employing more than 330 people in highly-skilled jobs.

"UK spin-outs are and will be driving the fourth industrial revolution," said Dr Harry Destecroix, founder of Science Creates and of University of Bristol deep tech spin-out Ziylo. "This additional physical infrastructure will allow deep tech companies to scale and emerge."

The announcement follows a government review of spin-out companies in November, with the Autumn Statement including a pledge of £20 million in funding to help universities create viable businesses.

"It’s critical that we harness this potential and give universities the tools they need to translate cutting-edge research into exciting UK businesses that start and grow in the UK," said chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.