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Innovative Bristol

With strong engineering roots and a thriving start-up culture, Bristol is famed for its ideas and innovation fed by two excellent universities.


One of history’s most groundbreaking engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, found his home in this forward-thinking city and created some of his most memorable masterpieces here, including Brunel’s ss Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner.


No doubt he would be proud to see Bristol continuing to lead the way in engineering, aerospace and tech; helping new ideas flourish into game-changing inventions. In fact today’s big ideas can even take shape in Brunel’s Boardroom at the Engine Shed – the engineer’s original thinking space.


Working alongside top players such as Boeing, Hewlett Packard and Toshiba are many start-ups and fast growing companies like Ultrahaptics, which specialises in touchless technology, and Open Bionics, building the next generation of prosthetics.


The city hosts some notable events including the VR World Congress, the largest virtual reality conference on the planet, and the Festival of Ideas, a year-round programme of stimulating talks and debates. Smaller events include the Pint of Science talks in May where local scientists, including from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, showcase their ideas in pubs around the city.


From the very beginning, talent is fostered through initiatives such as SETsquared, which UBI Global declared best universityled incubator in 2016. Strong academic programmes at both universities attract the best local and international students. Bristol University, one of the top 50 universities in the world, even runs special Innovation Programmes allowing students to become tomorrow’s change makers by pursuing their academic specialism and applying it in a multi-disciplinary, real-life context. While University of the West of England’s (UWE) aerospace and engineering courses are linked with leading local employers such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence. Their Pervasive Media Studio, meanwhile, explores creative technologies.


Amazing venues to inspire include Aerospace Bristol (opening summer 2017) where delegates can dine under the wings of Concorde 216, Brunel’s magnificent ss Great Britain, the new Engine Shed - a collaborative ideas hub housed in Brunel’s original station, both universities and At-Bristol Science Centre, which is home to the UK’s first 3D planetarium. There are also plenty of exciting opportunities

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