Growth for tech innovation in Bristol as Future Space expands

Media Relations Team, 21 May 2024

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A sign with branding of the Future Space lab at UWE's Frenchay campus

Future Space, UWE Bristol’s award-winning innovation centre for trailblazing tech and science businesses, has opened its doors to 10,000 square feet of brand new office and laboratory facilities.

Based in the heart of the University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) at UWE’s Frenchay campus, the centre provides a home for high-tech health, engineering, creative technology and green tech businesses benefitting from a unique university-partnered innovation model.

Seven new labs and 12 new offices will offer space for up to 130 people – increasing the centre’s overall capacity to support up to 70 businesses and bringing new jobs and opportunities to Bristol.

An extra £1 million GVA could be generated a year as a result of the expansion at Future Space, which already contributes around £2.5 million to the city’s economy every year.

Businesses based at Future Space benefit from established business support led by Oxford Innovation Space as well as from a newly launched university-partnered research and development pathway working alongside academics, students and facilities across UWE Bristol.

The expansion means more room to grow for Future Space businesses, such as NPK Recovery, which joined Future Space in May 2023. The company is working on creating an innovative urine-based fertiliser which will recycle the nutrients in urine, turning a waste product into a phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen rich fertiliser for use across the farming industry.

Hannah Van Den Bergh, CEO of NPK Recovery, said: “Working at Future Space has accelerated our business and given us the freedom to experiment. Not only does it have lab space, Future Space has been invaluable in leveraging new relationships across the university and the ecosystem, opening the door to new ideas – including welcoming our shipping container on site, used to recycle the nutrients from urine into fertiliser. This type of space for innovation is just not possible elsewhere in the city.”

Tracey John, Director of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol commented: “Future Space plays an integral part in the University’s enterprise ecosystem. The Future Space expansion will enable us to support more businesses in the region on their innovation and growth journey. Being based on our Frenchay Campus means our students and academics can directly benefit from engaging with the Future Space businesses and we can develop beneficial partnerships with the businesses. We are really excited to see what new businesses the expansion brings to campus.”

The expansion of Future Space follows the transformation of UWE Bristol’s incubation space in 2023, bringing together two incubators, the Launch Space Incubator, and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) Hardware Incubator, into one space at the heart of the University’s UEZ.

After a successful funding bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Capital Facilities Fund, it was also announced last year that a new lab, The Bridge, will be built on Frenchay campus within the UEZ. Worth £3.1m, the space will drive interdisciplinary, practice-based, design-led creative research and will act as a beacon for the west of England and wider regions seeking novel applications of technology to enhance Arts & Humanities research.

Speaking on the growth of Future Space, its Centre Director, Professor Matt Freeman said: “This expansion demonstrates our commitment to providing top-notch facilities for our thriving community of high-tech businesses inspired to work at the forefront of their sector. 

“But the expansion signifies more than a new building – it is the start of a fresh approach to nurturing innovation here at Future Space. All new businesses will get access to our award-winning innovation support, including our latest university-partnered approach to R&D, allowing all our companies to thrive in partnership with one of the region’s leading universities.”

The expansion of Future Space was funded by the West of England Combined Authority.

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