The first businesses have begun moving into the top floor of the Engine Shed, as part of the £1.7 million redevelopment of Brunel’s Grade I listed Old Station. The project is a collaboration between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council and is set to become a focal point of the drive to generate inward investment to the region and encourage a new generation of high growth businesses.

Sixteen member companies of the Bristol SETsquared Centre – the University of Bristol’s double award-winning business incubator – have now installed 60 staff in premium serviced offices on the top floor of the Engine Shed for Phase I of the redevelopment of the building.

The work will be completed by mid-October, when it will 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 opening of the Engine Shed was marked by a visit from Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson.

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.”

Bristol Mayor, 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.

Other key partners in the Engine Shed project are Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), both of whom are key delivery partners for Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

With funding from the HCA, Bristol City Council bought the freehold for Brunel’s Old Station in March 2012, from the Empire and Commonwealth Museum.