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Engine Shed adds £8 million to the local economy

Press release issued: 27 March 2015

Engine Shed, home to the University of Bristol’s SETsquared business incubator, has added £8 million to the local economy after being in operation for just over a year.

The business hub, located in Brunel’s original Temple Meads station building and also home to Invest Bristol and Bath - the West of England’s inward investment service - generated just over £7 million of net GVA growth in its first year.  The refurbishment works prior to its opening in December 2013, taking just six months, added a further £800,000 to this figure.

A study by Zeta Economics, a Bristol-based economics consultancy, found that Engine Shed also supported the creation of 115 new jobs in the Bristol and West of England area since opening. 

The project, brought forward in partnership by Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, has also provided business accommodation for over 300 people since December 2013.  Businesses have used the Engine Shed have used it as a launch pad for growth, and several have since moved out and taken up larger premises in the city.

SETsquared, which is resident in Engine Shed, already has impressive credentials with the globally University Business Incubator Index rating it the best of its kind in Europe and second best globally. 

Zeta Economics’ study also found its Bristol base to be one of the most efficient, incubating more companies per staff member than the European average.  SETsquared has supported 37 businesses in its new home and Engine Shed has accommodated 59, including two public sector organisations.

Nick Sturge, Director of Bristol SETsquared and Engine Shed, said: “Here is clear evidence that Engine Shed is powering economic growth in Bristol and the West of England.  We have an efficient model here, and coupled with demand outstripping supply for space in the building, it gives us great confidence for the viability of plans to extend the concept by a further phase.”

The report has shown the location in particular makes it a great collaboration space for academics, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and business leaders to interact and 77 per cent of companies have been influenced by this in their decision on where to have their meetings.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I am delighted that Engine Shed has been such a success story for the enterprise zone and for the region. It is playing a key role in incubating, growing and attracting, new businesses in the high tech and low carbon clusters.  Well over 100 new jobs have been created since its opening, adding to the growing number of jobs in the region, and giving real momentum to Temple Meads’ regeneration.”

Plans for Engine Shed 2 were revealed in January, with a £4 million investment to triple the amount of incubation space currently available for high-tech, social, creative and digital businesses in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

Colin Skellett, Chair of the LEP, said: “Engine Shed has been one of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone’s biggest success stories and I am delighted that funding for Engine Shed 2 was earmarked during the latest growth deal announcement. The high tech & creative industries are two of the LEPs priority growth sectors, and this project will create much needed expansion and additional incubation space and enable these exciting businesses in the region to continue to thrive.”

It’s anticipated that the new Enterprise Zone will create 17,000 new jobs in total and bring 400 new companies to the city over the next two decades.

Further information

History of Engine Shed

Engine Shed forms part of the original Temple Meads train station, opened in 1841 as the Western terminus of the Great Western Railway, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It’s thought to be one of the oldest surviving terminuses in the world, where passengers and trains inhabited the same space under the one roof. The building was fronted by offices which were home to Brunel’s Boardroom, drawing offices, the Bristol Offices of Great Western Railway and Station Master’s quarters.

The station has previously housed The Exploratory from 1989 to 1999 and then the Empire and Commonwealth Museum from 2002 to 2009. Brunel’s Old Station at the Passenger Shed, which took over after that, still holds an exciting array of events.

Engine Shed, a Grade I listed building built by the famous engineer in 1841, had a £1.7 million transformation thanks to a partnership between Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and was officially re-opened on 2 December by Greg Clark, the Minister for Cities, with Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson and Professor Sir Eric Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University.

A public lobby provides an information point and innovation showcase dubbed ‘Platform 14’ to highlight the enterprise activities taking place across the West of England and is currently hosting an exhibition highlighting the creativity within the City about St Pauls’ Carnival which will be followed by the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show and GrowBristol – an exciting experiment in aquaponics for urban growing.

About SETsquared

The SETsquared partnership is the enterprise collaboration of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. Together, the universities employ 8,500 academic staff, earn £450m of the UK’s higher education research budget and produce 11 per cent of all UK university patents.

The partnership has a 10 year track record of supporting companies through its innovation centres, which provide access to industry specialists, investors and experienced entrepreneurs.

The Bristol SETsquared Centre, now located within Engine Shed in the heart of Bristol's Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, supports over 60 members who between them employ over 650 people and have raised over £80 million in the last six years.

A full list of the businesses currently supported by the Bristol SETsquared Centre can be found on the SETsquared website.

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