Bristol-Bath Innovation Cluster

Client: University of the West of England

SQW's report on the Bristol-Bath Innovation Cluster was launched at Future Space (at UWE Bristol) on 7th November 2018.

The study investigated the processes through which the innovation cluster has developed and it considered the steps that ought to be taken to nurture it further.

It found evidence relating to the attributes of a cluster – e.g. strengthening links between four universities and knowledge-based businesses; a labour market that needs to be understood in terms of both its "thickness" (given the range of specialist skills within it, and its scale) and its "stickiness" (given that people tend to remain in Bristol-Bath); and a strong network of supporting organisations, innovation spaces and people.

The study observed further that the functioning of the innovation cluster was strongly linked to the area's "city-ness" - specifically its rich cultural assets and its "edginess". The area has generated, attracted and retained creative, innovative and entrepreneurial people, and this has helped to define and shape the cluster. The central importance of its "city-ness" means that it is different in character from other clusters that SQW has considered previously.

Looking ahead, the Bristol-Bath innovation cluster has real potential. To realise this potential, the study concluded that more of the area's entrepreneurial businesses need to be encouraged to grow – and here, the requirement is for stronger investment networks and a continuing supply of affordable incubator and employment space. The growth narrative also needs to become a more inclusive one (spatially and socially) and a general focus on sustaining the quality of place will be imperative.

Read more about the findings and download the full report here.