Silicon Gorge “better than London” for start-ups


The West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, opened Bristol Water’s Innovation Conference yesterday (Wednesday 24 April) acknowledging that investments in facilities such as Future Space at University West of England (UWE), along with the world’s number one business incubator being based in the region, has made the south west the best place to start a business in the UK.

Bristol Water arranged the day of collaboration alongside regional influencers and start-ups to help solve industry challenges and hunt for the next emerging start-up to incubate to push the water industry forward. Those attending heard talks from David Ferguson, Head of Digital Innovation at EDF; Jack Lomas, Head of Product at Mott Macdonald; and Melanie Rodrigues, Creative Director at TEDxBristol. Tim Bowles, the West of England Mayor, who opened the event, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss open innovation, working with the local community, and how established industry within our region – such as Bristol Water – can collaborate with start-up business and help them, and our local economy to grow. “This aligns entirely with my focus as West of England Mayor; to capture the innovation and new technology that we develop here through our world leading businesses and universities; to develop our ability to collaborate more across the region and to make the most of our region’s many strengths.

“The level of collaboration across businesses and organisations is establishing our region as the best place to start and grow a business in the UK.”

Bristol Water’s Head of Innovation, Chris Thomas, said: “It’s a bold claim, but we truly believe the west is best for start-ups to innovate in. “The Tech Nation Report described Bristol as the UK’s #1 digital tech productivity powerhouse and in 2016, Britain’s leading smart city.  Several local initiatives have been set up to help start-ups here, including SETsquared, twice named ‘Global No.1 University incubator’ based in the region. “As part of our business incubator, we are taking ambitious start-ups and giving them open access to our business in a way not normally possible, including access to data, business leaders and expertise. Yesterday, six ambitious businesses pitched to join our incubator. “There are untapped opportunities within the water industry to innovate and when the benefits can be as diverse as supporting future talent while driving our region as an innovation hotspot and finding ways to improve our service to over one million customers; it really is a no brainer.” Bristol Water’s Innovation Manager, Aimee Skinner, was also joined by the Lord Mayor to celebrate and award the best innovation ideas from within company.