Report boosts Bristol & Bath innovation cluster

July 3, 2014 by
Filed under: News 
Centre for Cities map

Centre for Cities map of UK clusters highlights the Bristol & Bath innovation cluster

The Bristol and Bath region has an internationally-significant and fast-growing high tech sector according to an influential new report.

The high tech, creative and digital media innovation cluster is showcased in a new report by the Centre for Cities and McKinsey & Company which recommends more Government investment in key clusters to stimulate growth in the UK economy.

Three of the 12 high-growth, globally-significant UK clusters identified in the report are based in the South West – they are the region’s high tech, aerospace and tourism sectors. Technology is also identified as key to many of those 12 clusters.

Stand-out strengths of Bristol and Bath’s cluster are its diverse combination of industries and strong networks, according to the report, which highlights the region as an in-depth case study.

 “It is this diversity of connected sectors, skilled workforce, world leading academic research and brilliant quality of life that make Bristol and Bath so distinctive and attractive,” said Professor Joe McGeehan, chair of inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath and special advisor to Toshiba. “Industries ranging from high tech to creative and digital media, and from robotics to aerospace, work collaboratively to drive innovation.  Major global players are increasingly setting up operations in the Bristol and Bath region as they seek to benefit from this offering as part of their plan for business growth.’

The cluster covers  electronics manufacturers, animation and computer graphics firms, as well as digital start-ups and university spin-outs. This ‘melting pot’ of companies ranges from larger players such as Aardman Animations, HP and Toshiba to small 3D printing and robotics technology start-ups.

Specialist hubs such as Bristol & Bath Science Park, Watershed and the Engine Shed are also highlighted as a vital component of this thriving cluster, along with networks which connect talent, companies, universities and investors across sectors.

Clusters are a major contributor to economic growth, an important source of well-paid jobs and also bring wider business advantages such as a strong understanding of customer demand and support for innovation. As a result, clusters are well placed to attract investment and talent, according to the report.

Inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath has recognised the strength of the cluster to secure a flurry of investment and interest from national and international high-tech firms wanting to establish a base in the area.

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is setting up an R&D facility in Bristol, while Somo, the largest independent mobile solutions company, has chosen Bristol to set up a specialist engineering centre, and digital solutions company Kainos has also invested in opening a new office in the city. Leading online takeaway service JUST EAT has also announced it is expanding its technology development by opening a new specialist hub in Bristol.

The Centre for Cities report also highlights a range of barriers to the development of a successful cluster, including the challenge of securing recognition on a global stage. “Clusters are an essential feature of an innovative and dynamic economy, and the Government needs to support them and remove the barriers to their growth,” said Lord Sainsbury, who commissioned the report.

“We know that relatively small, but targeted investments in areas such as skills and infrastructure can make a significant difference in the UK’s economic output,” said Centre for Cities chief executive Alexandra Jones. “Improving local business environments and increasing the flexibility of our cities to respond to their specific challenges will not only support existing clusters to reach their potential, but encourage the emergence of new clusters and high-growth firms in all sectors across the UK.”

Joe McGeehan who was at the launch of the report, “Just over a year ago, we established Invest Bristol & Bath, the area’s inward investment agency to promote the region at a national and international level. This move is already paying dividends as Invest Bristol & Bath, which is backed by funding from the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, has created over 700 jobs in the past year.”

David Sproxton, chairman and co-founder of Aardman, said: ‘It is excellent to see a report focusing on the importance of industrial clusters as powerhouses for the economy, and highlighting Bristol and Bath for its undoubted strengths across the high tech, creative and digital-media space. We definitely need to raise the profile of UK clusters so they can continue to compete on the global stage.’

Bonnie Dean, chief executive of Bristol & Bath Science Park, says: ‘It is the collaborative approach of Bristol and Bath’s technologists, business leaders and academics, combined with its rich network of interlinked, complimentary sectors that make the tech cluster here particularly successful. The region has excelled in creating a lively ecosystem of enterprise, where knowledge, expertise and ideas are shared, innovative thinking is stimulated and business success is accelerated.’

A vibrant and innovative cluster, Bristol & Bath’s tech industry is producing animated films, the latest breakthroughs in analysing ‘big data’ and the world’s smallest drones.

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson responding to the news said: “This is a very welcome report that recognises Bristol and Bath as one of the most important clusters of economic activity in the UK. Our growing expertise in the creative and digital sector is getting attention and attracting more and more companies to relocate here.”

See also: Bristol is the best tech cluster outside London at

Related articles


Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!