The Bristol and Bath tech cluster has more meetups per head than any technology cluster in the UK – we believe it’s that connectedness, that support and that level of knowledge-sharing that drives innovation, and makes our region the best place to work in tech. So we’ve decided to highlight the awesome groups keeping us connected.

This week we’re running our questions past The Bristol Innovation Group.

What’s your Meet-up?

The Bristol Innovation Group (BIG) had its first meet up in November 2019 at the University of Bristol Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The group exists to bring together, inspire and equip innovators and change-makers across Bristol to make the city a better place to work and live. If you believe that we need to accelerate the response to how we tackle systemic challenges, and you’re passionate about using innovation to build a better future – come and join us.

Who’s it for?

The group is open to anyone working and/or living in the Bristol region who is involved in innovation, change, or transformation in any sector. We also have a lot of entrepreneurs, consultants and start ups who have joined. Bristol is clearly a very innovative place – we have almost 150 members already!

Is there any criteria to join?

Our members come from a diverse range of sectors and jobs, within start-up, SME, public and private organisations. We want people that are interested in local (and wider) innovation and growth, and want to learn lessons about innovation from other sectors. We want people that will actively contribute to the group, be that through promotion, conversation, or taking part in group projects.

We’re also clear on what we don’t want it to be – such as another place for people to simply promote their product or service. We’re hoping to plan more events that will allow people to pitch, but the BIG meet up isn’t the forum for that.

What’s the format of your event?

We hold a monthly meeting (virtual for the moment). We organise them around three key elements, but we allow for flexibility so we can respond to what the group wants.

The BIG conversation features a guest speaker who is doing something really innovative in the city, has an interesting story to share or who has a practical presentation about innovation theory that others can learn from. The BIG Breakout allows members to split into smaller discussion groups – these can be led by the group leads or hosted by a member of the group who has something interesting to talk about. We then come back together for the BIG Topic discussion. This is an open conversation and is quite fun. We sometimes get the group to vote on which topic they’d like to discuss or stick to a topic that is getting a lot of attention – such as the Bristol Innovation Ecosystem.

We also hold larger quarterly workshops to tackle local innovation challenges and work together on practical projects that will benefit Bristol.

If you could invite anyone to your meet-up who would it be?

Wallace and Gromit. Not only are they the stuff of Bristol legend – they also perfectly encapsulate innovation in its purest sense: Wallace makes things for no reason, Gromit adds value!

How many members do you generally have at an event?

We have almost 150 members on LinkedIn (at time of writing) and around 30-40 attend our monthly sessions. 50-70 at our quarterly workshops.

What are some of the typical subjects you discuss?

Innovation is a big topic so the discussion is always fresh and interesting but can cover innovation theory, innovation blockers, the role of innovation in the one city plan, how innovation can help to make Bristol a more sustainable/healthy/environmentally friendly/attractive city or how it can help to solve social problems. We don’t just talk though – we’re very clear that we don’t want to be another talking shop.

Our purpose focuses on making Bristol a better place to work and live, and so we are setting up projects or getting involved in projects and partnerships that are already running to take practical steps that will actually have a positive impact on this city.

If you want to join us, or you have a project you think we’d be interested in the best place to go is our LinkedIn group. Simply search Bristol Innovation Group or click here.