View all news

University of Bristol breaks new ground with innovation degree courses

Press release issued: 11 September 2015

The University of Bristol has today revealed a new kind of degree programme, merging traditional subjects with the opportunity to learn how to become an entrepreneur and innovator.

The Bristol Innovation Programmes have been designed after 30 per cent of its students said they planned to become entrepreneurs after leaving university.

It is unique because it allows undergraduates to choose a core academic subject to study, such as History, Computer Science or Anthropology, while learning about how to innovate, develop and plan their own business venture from day one.

Eleven subjects* now offer the four-year variation, which leads to a masters qualification. Students will have the opportunity to create their own enterprise in the final year after immersive training in design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

A new teaching and business hub will be created to encourage students with different specialisms to work in trans-disciplinary teams, alongside industry partners, to create products and services that build on both the city's and the University's expertise and experience.

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol, said: "This new programme is responding to a clear demand from our students, many of whom want to run their own businesses in the future and have a thirst to come up with ideas which will make a major contribution to the world around them.

"They will emerge from their studies as an expert in their chosen specialism, coupled with the entrepreneurial skills that are highly valued by all organisations, large and small.

"It's a major development for a Russell Group university and Bristol now offers the only degree programmes in the country to follow this exciting new format."

Building on its existing links with industry through, for example, its award-winning SETsquared business incubation centre, based in Engine Shed, and the Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed, the University is able to offer a network of experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and industry mentors to support the programmes.

The new innovation courses also build on Bristol's reputation as a creative city with a fast growing number of technology start-ups.

The Bristol and Bath region has been recognised as a fast-growing, globally-significant high-tech, creative and digital media cluster and is home to companies such as Aardman Animation, IMDB and Hewlett Packard.

A recent report from Tech City UK described the cluster as 'a hotbed for future technologies' and ranked it second in the UK for digital employment, behind London, with 61,653 people employed in the industry. The cluster generates £4.8 billion GVA.

Indeed, 20 per cent of Bristol University graduates currently go on to set up their own business. Notable alumni who have founded hugely successful companies include Mark Ellingham and Natalia Jansz, the creators of Rough Guides, Edd Read who set-up Graze, Will Dean who co-founded the Tough Mudder events, and Sahar Hashemi, the co-founder of Coffee Republic.

Dr Kirsten Cater, a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University and one of the Programme's academic leaders, said: "Building on the UK's immense strengths in design and innovation, we want to educate the generation who will create technology to enrich our lives in the future. We've created an environment where students from different backgrounds, with different expertise, can work in teams and across disciplines to create new ventures together.

"Much like Apple, the innovators of the 21st century will bring together art, design, science, engineering and enterprise to deliver new products, services and ways of working and living."

Students will be encouraged to address pressing global issues of health, environment and education to build on the University's research strengths.

More information on the Bristol Innovation Programmes can be found on the University of Bristol's website. Applications for 2016/17 are now open.

*The 11 subjects which can be combined with innovation are: Anthropology, Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Film and Television, Geography, History, Management, Music, Physics, Psychology, and Theatre.

Edit this page