Engine Shed celebrates fifth anniversary and reflects on achievements to date

In 5 years, the enterprise hub has received an estimated 150,000 visitors including members of the Royal Family, Ministers of State, school children, and international delegations
7th February 2019

Engine Shed celebrated its fifth birthday with over 200 friends, tenants, and members, who gathered to hear its successes to date and plans for the future, including the announcement of UKRIC’s ‘living laboratory’ to be hosted on site, and speeches from Bristol Youth Mayors, Hannah Hier and Jack Pitt.

The event served as a reflection on the past five years of achievements and progress, as well as setting out Engine Shed’s ambitions for the next five and beyond. Attendees were invited to bring along a ‘future leader’ and share their ideas and visions on an interactive graffiti wall.

Speaking on the night, Engine Shed Director, Nick Sturge, said “We are now one third into the experiment, one third into the lease on this fantastic building. We are proud of what we have achieved and learnt so far, and as we continue learning we are grateful to those who have helped us and those who will continue to help us for the next five years.

“In 2016, the Legatum Prosperity Index ranked Bristol as the best environment for business in the UK, and we hope we have played our part in that… However, Bristol also ranked 129th for overall prosperity, and that’s a problem – actually, an opportunity – to tap into the talent available here. We have to include everyone in the growth of the city region, otherwise we won’t have a sustainable economy. So we continue to look for projects and partners that will help us make an impact and a difference.

But it’s not just about the projects, it’s about the people: the people you talk to, the conversations you have, learning about other people’s perspectives, stories, businesses and cultures, is what will make Bristol and Bath a better place. Our role is to nudge provoke, experiment, and connect.”

Since launching in December 2014, Engine Shed has hosted an average 30,000 visitors per year, an estimated 150,000 in total including many primary school children, Royalty, members of HM Government, and overseas guests. It is currently running 19 projects to support growth, inclusion, and innovation in the Bristol city region, and working with 64 partners to deliver positive social and economic impact including the Diverse Workforce for the Future programme to engage young people with future careers, and the Scale Up Generator which supports scaling businesses in the region.

Now, five years into the ‘Engine Shed experiment,’ the need for idea sharing and collective intelligence is as important as ever. Engine Shed redistributes 30% of its surplus operating profits into running projects to drive sustainable, economic growth, which in turn generates increased use of Engine Shed’s services.

During the evening, Nick Sturge also announced a new partnership with UKRIC, whose upcoming expansion and partnership with Engine Shed aims to further Bristol & Bath as a ‘living laboratory.’

Dr Theo Tryfonas, Infrastructure Collaboratory Lead at UKRIC Bristol, said “We will soon be announcing a physical expansion and new partnership: The UKCRIC Bristol Collaboratory, which will establish Bristol as a ‘living laboratory’ and support transdisciplinary communities of academics, industry, and citizens to address shared infrastructure and city problems.

“By bringing together a range of initiatives and activities (Bristol Is Open, smart infrastructure test beds, Bristol City Council, and the University’s innovative Engine Shed), the Bristol Infrastructure Collaboratory will create accessible engagement and co-production spaces open to citizens and young people. Relocatable laboratories will also take UKCRIC activities into schools and communities that would not normally have access to or engage with such activities.”

Engine Shed also launched a short film showcasing its projects and collaborations, and the benefits they reap for members and the wider Engine Shed community. The film was made in partnership with Friction Collective, and features tenants, members, and collaborators sharing their experiences working at Engine Shed.

If you have any ideas for future projects that could benefit the local economy and community, or are interested in working with Engine Shed to support its existing projects, get in touch today.