University of Bristol: New initiative Bristol Innovations expands potential for transformative research

Bristol Innovations is a virtual network designed to increase opportunities for University academics, researchers and entrepreneurial students to collaborate with third party stakeholders to translate research for real-world purposes. It launches at a time when the UK government has pledged to turn the UK into a global innovation hub.

The initiative was announced today (24 June) at the University’s research and innovation hub at the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus. The first phase of the building, which opens next month, will be home to the Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI), an international university research institute that is pioneering transformative approaches to digital innovation. MyWorld, a University of Bristol-led programme for creative technologies, will join BDFI in the hub, in 2023. This will be the first facility to open as part of the new campus.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh Brady says: “The global landscape for research and innovation is undergoing rapid changes, which presents an opportunity for universities and industry to develop a more sustainable way forward.

“Bristol Innovations is an enormously exciting undertaking. It will allow us to support more academics to bring our world-class research to practical and meaningful applications that benefit the city, the region and the world.”

Supported by the Bristol Grid – a University of Bristol digital hub for entrepreneurial activities – Bristol Innovations will enhance the University’s efforts to apply its knowledge and expertise for the benefit of millions of people across the world.

This includes working with industry partners to identify and respond to social and economic needs; exploring new spin-out and start-up opportunities; investing in more resources for business development; offering more consultancy and licencing opportunities; and working with third parties through knowledge exchange, public engagement and research commercialisation.

“In recent years the University has seen a rapid increase in enterprise and innovation activity, with our spin-outs and start-ups receiving more investment in 2021 than ever before, as well as sustained growth and diversification of our partnerships with industry, third sector and community organisations,” says Professor Michele Barbour, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation.

“This growth has served to inspire other members of the academic community to consider this route as means to realise the impact of their research, and a growing enthusiasm to engage with the enterprise agenda.”

Bristol Innovations builds on the University’s reputation as a thriving powerhouse for world-leading research and innovation. This was evidenced by the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, which assessed 94% of its research to be world-leading or internationally excellent, prompting the Times Higher Education to boost Bristol to fifth place for research in the UK.

Dr Jon Hunt, Executive Director of Research and Enterprise, adds: “Bristol Innovations will enable us to scale up how we already work with other organisations to achieve impact, creating the products and services we all need in what we call the ‘push’, Knowledge Exchange, or ‘Enterprise’.

“However, the uniqueness of Bristol Innovations is about identifying the gaps, where our research could make the world a better place, but we lack the right partner organisations to work with us. Bristol Innovations will help us create or partner with just such organisations, to enable a ‘pull’.”