University of Bristol and Science Creates announce £8.5m investment to develop major new incubator on the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus
Press release issued: 6 December 2023
The University of Bristol and deep tech organisation Science Creates have agreed to launch a £8.5m major new incubator in the heart of the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.
The investment has been enabled with a £4.75m award from the Research England Development (RED) fund. The new incubator, OMX, is for spin-out companies that have the potential to provide a major economic boost to the region.
A spinout company is a new company that is formed to apply academic research in a commercial context.
This will mark the third deep tech incubator Science Creates has delivered with the university, the first of which opened in 2017.
The funding will be used to refurbish an existing industrial unit in Bristol adjacent to the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, providing state-of-the-art facilities including wet-labs, high security, and ultra-fast computer networking, hosting spin-out companies working in quantum, biotech and AI.
OMX will provide capacity to incubate approximately 275 new companies starting from next year.
While the University of Bristol will lead on the project, and its joint-venture partner Science Creates will set-up and run OMX, the incubator will be open to spin-out companies from West of England universities and beyond.
Major research programmes in the region’s universities have created a large pipeline of potential spin-outs in critical areas prioritised by the Government's Science and Technology Framework such as engineering biology, quantum technology, and cyber security.
Dr Jon Hunt, the University of Bristol’s Executive Director for Research, Enterprise and Innovation, said: “The University of Bristol is a great powerhouse for spin-outs. This success is attributable to excellent research by world class academics combined with a high-quality research commercialisation team and a vibrant, entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The new OMX incubator, located in the heart of our new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, will help create the next generation of deep tech spin-outs, in quantum, cyber, engineering biology and much more. I hope and expect many of these companies will thrive and grow to help us deliver on our mission to make a positive impact locally, nationally, and globally by addressing society’s greatest challenges.
“We could not do this without the support of Research England who share our vision for a vibrant entrepreneurial regional ecosystem that supports university commercialisation to create great spin-outs that compete and win in global markets.”
The project will build on Bristol’s impressive success in developing an ecosystem where spin-out businesses can thrive. The University of Bristol and Science Creates have worked together since 2015, and an independent impact report on the collaboration showed that as of April 2023, it has helped create 370 new jobs and adds £125m each year to the UK economy.
Dr Harry Destecroix, founder of Science Creates and founder one of the University of Bristol’s most successful deep tech spin-outs Ziylo, said: “We founded Science Creates in 2015, just one year after spinning out Ziylo, because the biggest barrier we faced was access to advanced research facilities.
“We also wanted to find people who understood the unique challenges deep tech spin-outs face. Being part of only 0.3% of UK companies that are spin-outs, we decided to do something about it.
“We have been working with the University of Bristol to help improve the conditions for deep tech spinouts for nearly a decade. We are delighted to be working on our third deep tech incubator together.
“UK spin-outs are and will be driving the fourth industrial revolution. All we want to do is help world-class engineers & scientists who have discovered important technological breakthroughs, to build impactful deep tech companies. This will improve human health and the health of our planet. This additional physical infrastructure will allow deep tech companies to scale and emerge.”
The incubator builds on the University of Bristol’s strengths in engineering biology and quantum technology.
Bristol has a growing cluster of engineering biology businesses which are developing breakthroughs in areas such as cell therapies, vaccines, synthetically-produced red blood cells, and new drug platforms to combat antimicrobial resistance.
The city is also renowned for pioneering the commercialisation of quantum technology, with spin-out companies developing new approaches to quantum computing systems and software, sensors with unprecedented precision, and communications for ultra-secure networks. The University of Bristol’s collaborative work in this sector has led to a third of the UK’s quantum technology start-ups coming from Bristol, with these companies employing more than 330 people in highly-skilled jobs.
OMX will build on these areas, creating a critical mass of spin-outs in the West of England to help unlock significant new investment in the spin-out ecosystem from multiple organisations.
The £4.75m RED funding releases a further £3.25m in investment from Science Creates Incubators and £545k from the University of Bristol for the OMX project.