Start is a new and exciting pilot programme for the West of England region and will be delivered by a consortium of four universities: The University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol), The University of Bristol, The University of Bath, and Bath Spa University.

Led by UWE Bristol, partnered with techSPARK, the programme is funded by the West of England Combined Authority, and will provide a package of support and development for 150 pre-start and early formation tech/digital businesses across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset.

We will support founders at the very earliest stages of their journey to give them a better chance of success, and through inclusive and equitable recruitment processes and programme design, we will seek to address the underrepresentation of tech founders who are women, disabled, and/or from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds.

The Local Enterprise Partnership (or LEP) is a partnership between businesses, universities, the region’s councils and Combined Authority. Its role is to secure our region’s success by promoting an environment in which businesses thrive and communities grow in a sustainable way.

The LEP worked with the Combined Authority, government, and the business community to develop our region’s Local Industrial Strategy, which sets out our priorities to drive long-term growth in our economy.

UWE Bristol is recognised for its strength and leadership through our wide-ranging economic activity and support for innovation and growth. The University has successfully run a large number of economic development programmes across the South West, including Scale Up 4 Growth in the West of England and Gloucestershire and the Digital Innovation Fund. We are passionate about supporting local economies and have awarded over £7m of grants to the region’s businesses, generating £15m of local investment.

UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) – one of four UEZs originally commissioned by UK government – is based at our Frenchay Campus. The facility brings together the whole innovation pipeline, creating unique opportunities to drive forward enterprise, supporting the region’s local economy. It includes

  • Future space – an innovation centre for around 50 fast-growth businesses
  • Launch Space Incubator – supporting early-stage high growth tech startups
  • HealthTech Hub – tailored SME support for product testing and prototyping, advancing technology for independent living, health, and well-being
  • Robotics Innovation Facility – providing training, research and consultancy services to entrepreneurs, businesses, and public sector clients
  • BRL Hardware Incubator – support and grow-on facilities for high tech businesses from the robotics, health technology, biosciences and biomedicine sectors.

Research and Enterprise Division (RED)

Research and Enterprise Division (RED) works with academics, researchers, students and entrepreneur communities within and also outside the University of Bristol. Whether you are an organisation or individual entrepreneur, a world-leading or early-career researcher, or a student entrepreneur with exciting ideas you will find that RED has people with the experience, knowledge, networks and expertise to assist. Some examples of the support we can provide includes:

We will build partnerships

To each of these partnerships, we’ll bring our core values and our creative professionalism to bear, ensuring that whilst each partnership is unique, all are identifiably influenced by our distinctive identity.

These partnerships will:

  • Foster economic and cultural development at a range of scales
  • Extend our reach within and beyond the West of England so that we’re learning and sharing best practice wherever we find it
  • Improve our student learning and graduate outcomes
  • Ensure that our work is relevant, useful and neededOur approach will include, but not be limited to:
    • Employer and enterprise partnerships – with industries, SMEs, unitary authorities,
      local and regional government and business leaders. We’ll contribute to economic growth and development, and will work closely with employers in the design of our degrees and in our research and creative endeavours.
    • Educational partnerships – with schools, colleges, private providers of HE, universities and other centres of learning, in order to share best practice, to develop talent pipelines, to explore best practice and to capitalise on emerging educational opportunities.
    • Cultural and creative partnerships – with museums, galleries, festivals, creative sector bodies, individuals within cultural and creative industries, to optimise our creative reach and the possibilities afforded to our staff and students.
    • Alumni engagement – to ensure that our community is lifelong and that our students and graduates benefit from this continued engagement with Bath Spa University.
    • An international approach is critical if we’re to optimise our impact, in our research and in our creative work, through our staff and for our students. In a global world, we’ll be globally aware and globally connected.

    Whether we build satellite campuses, strategic educational partnerships, or long-standing links with other bodies, we will focus on our core attributes of nurture and creativity and our determined ambition to make a difference, in order to add value to individuals and communities locally, nationally and globally.

We support entrepreneurs leading knowledge-based innovative or disruptive technology ventures with high commercial growth potential. You don’t need a connection with the University of Bath or indeed any of the partner SETsquared Universities, but we do also help spinouts, research commercialisation opportunities and collaborations and our student enterprise activities help nurture tomorrow’s pioneers.

Our flagship Virtual Accelerator Membership Programme is designed and delivered to member start-up and scale-up companies through a bespoke support package of benefits with the aim of building resilient, investable, high-growth businesses. Our start-up companies operate at an impressive 90%+ survival rate, enabling sustainable growth and high-value investment opportunities in building globally scalable companies from the ground up.

techSPARK is a not-for-profit community dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening tech ecosystems from Swindon to Swansea. We work with tech and digital businesses from startups to scaleups, SME’s to global corporations to help them thrive through our networks and knowledge.

techSPARK connects with over 35,000 people monthly; highlighting the best in tech in the West and bringing people together through events and programmes.