In June 2023 we launched the inaugural Chair’s Report – The State of Tech in Bristol and Bath. This report includes a summary of the history of our regional tech sector mapped year by year but we thought it would be useful to capture the more detailed version here too – an opportunity to celebrate all that has gone before, and how the sector has developed over time.

1811: Sarah Guppy is the first woman to patent a bridge

1830: Brunel develops infrastructure for travel from London to New York

1969: Concorde first flew

1978: INMOS founded and later sold to EMI Thorn for £192m in 1984, who sold it to STMicroelectronics in 1989

1985: HP Labs Bristol launches – European research centre, the first outside the US

1990: IMDb begins (not incorporated until 1996)

1994: INMOS absorbed into STMicroelectronics

1999: Element14 opens in Bristol with engineers from INMOS and assets from Acorn Computers (acquired by Broadcom in 2000 for $600m)

2000: Picochip founded in Bath (acquired by Mindseed in 2012 for £52m)

2001: Bath Innovation Centre opened

2001: University of Bristol New Enterprise Competition launches (goes on to support Peequal, Ultraleap and many more)

2002: SETsquared Bristol and SETsquared Bath open

2005: XMOS (Uni of Bristol spinout and SETsquared member) founded

2006: Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) opens

2007: Eden Ventures launches (now closed)

2008: Pervasive Media Studio launches

2008: Bristol crowned as Science City

2009: HP Labs closes

2009: OVO Energy incorporates (later becomes unicorn in 2020)

2011: Bristol and Bath Science Park opens

2011: First Bath Digital Festival

2011: Icera sold to Nvidia in 2011 for $367 million (founded in 2002 by Element14 founder)

2011: National Composites Centre opens

2012: First ever SPARKies in Komedia, Bath

2012: The Bristol+Bath brand launches at MIPIM

2013: Bristol is Open

2013: Cray acquires Bristol startup Gnodal and opens European HQ in Bristol

2013: Engine Shed opens

2013: BRL opens Hardware Incubator

2013: Webstart incubator launches (now closed)

2014: techSPARK incorporates

2014: Just Eat opens tech hub in Bristol 

2014: Secondsync sold to Twitter

2015: First ever Venturefest (Nick says at B/B Sci Park in 2012)

2015: SETsquared announced as UBI Global as best University-backed incubator in the world

2015: PsiQuantum Founded at University of Bristol (since raised $650M, relocating to Silicon Valley)

2016: Oracle Cloud Accelerator launches

2016: Bristol Private Equity Club launches

2016: Graphcore spins out of XMOS (later becomes unicorn in 2020)

2016: Strava Global open European HQ in Bristol

2016: University of Bristol opens Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

2017: UnitDX opens, later rebrands to become Science Creates and multiplies

2017: Future Space opens at UWE

2017: Immersive Labs incorporates

2017: Dyson opens IoT hub in Bristol

2017: VR World Congress drew a global audience to Bristol

2017: QTEC launches (later combines with QTIC)

2018: Runway East opens coworking space (1st London brand in city)

2018: Ziylo (Uni of Bristol spinout) acquired by Novo Nordisk reportedly for $800million

2018: Huboo incorporates

2018: Groupon acquires Vouchercloud

2018: Tech Nation names Bristol the UK’s most productive tech cluster

2019: Launch of 5G Testbed

2019: First Bristol Tech Festival

2020: Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI)

2020: UltraSoc Technologies acquired by Siemens

2020: Science Creates announce Science Creates Ventures £15m fund

2020: Vertical Aerospace incorporates (undergoes SPAC merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp in late 2021)

2021: First year that £1bn+ raised in equity investment across South West

2021: Gapsquare acquired by XpertHR

2023: ARM opens office in Bristol

Briony Phillips

Briony is Scaleup Lead at Rocketmakers, a software development agency that designs, develops and deploys technology for startups, scaleups and corporations. Briony champions the scale-up business ecosystem and works with partners across the public and private sector to deliver content, events and resources that help to overcome challenges faced by fast-growth companies such as access to investment and office space availability.