The first VIP visitor has set foot in the Engine Shed, Bristol’s new business and innovation hub, to mark the start of a new chapter in the historic building’s history.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, saw for himself how the Grade I listed building at Bristol Temple Meads is being transformed thanks to a £1.7million investment.
His visit coincided with the first businesses moving into the top floor of the Brunel-built Engine Shed, which is a collaboration between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council.
Sixteen member companies of the Bristol SETsquared Centre – the University of Bristol’s double award-winning business incubator – now have 60 staff based in premium serviced offices on the top floor.
Mr Vaizey, who was accompanied by Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, said: “The University of Bristol and Bristol City Council are to be congratulated on this brilliant transformation of this historic building. The Engine Shed, as Bristol’s newest business and innovation hub, will be instrumental in helping to drive growth and is a most welcome addition to the new Enterprise Zone.”
Work to transform the Engine Shed is set to be complete by mid-October, when it will be fully-open and act as focal point for Bristol’s drive to generate inward investment, encouraging a new generation of high growth businesses. It will also become the headquarters for the newly launched Invest in Bristol and Bath, accommodating representatives from the four West of England Unitary Authority areas, and act as a ‘shopfront’ for potential investors in the region.
The Engine Shed will form part of the new Bristol and Bath and Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, which will span 173 acres of land around Bristol Temple Meads train station and includes plans for a long-awaited indoor arena, new public spaces and a vibrant business, commercial and shopping district. It’s anticipated that the new Enterprise Zone will create 17,000 new jobs and bring 400 new companies to the city over the next two decades.
Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson said: “This is an important day for The Engine Shed, showing the Enterprise Zone is really getting to work for the Bristol and Bath city region. It will provide a shop window for the whole project, which brings together the public, private and academic sectors to encourage business growth across the region.
“We’re demonstrating how to make such an ambitious project work and it will mean much more local investment over coming years. I’m very grateful to the Bristol SETsquared Centre and the University of Bristol for taking this bold first step and setting a great example for other organisations to follow.”
Core to the Engine Shed will be a business lounge and co-working and collaboration spaces for academics, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and business leaders. Nick Sturge, Centre Director of the Bristol SETsquared Centre and Director of the Engine Shed, said the transfer of businesses from the previous offices within the University’s precinct in Clifton was a ‘significant milestone’ which marked a new chapter in SETsquared’s growth.
He added: “It is also a milestone for the city region – a demonstration of multiple partners, private and public, working together to a common goal utilising the assets, skills and ambition that we have in abundance.
“This has been a fast-track project and we have taken many risks in getting to where we are, but that’s what being entrepreneurial is all about.”
The Bristol SETsquared Centre accelerates early stage, high-tech, high-growth businesses and has helped its members raise over £85m since 2007 and create over 650 jobs. Having previously won two national awards from trade body, UKBI, the SETsquared Partnership, of which the Bristol centre is a part, was recently ranked 4th best business incubator in the world, and best in Europe.
Find out more about SETsquared at www.setsquared.co.uk.