Science park celebrates first anniversary with “open innovation” debate

The Bristol and Bath Science Park at Emersons Green, Bristol.

Open innovation is key to identifying the industries of the future on which UK prosperity will depend, and the Bristol & Bath Science Park offers an exciting place to accelerate this in the South West.

That was the message delivered by Will Hutton, who was speaking at the Bristol & Bath Science Park’s first anniversary event today (26 September).

Just one year after opening, space at The Park has been snapped up twice as fast as anticipated with over three quarters of the first phase already let.

New deals revealed today will see three international science and technology-based companies move or expand into the Grow On Centre at the Park. These include Japanese power electronics firm TDK-Lambda, a group company of the TDK Corporation, Marine Current Turbines, a Siemens company, and advanced numerical simulation research body, CFMS.

Speaking at the Science Park’s inaugural anniversary event today, co-hosted by Science City Bristol, Will Hutton, Chair of the Big Innovation Centre at the Work Foundation said:

“For Britain to compete effectively in a global economy, a strong culture of open innovation is vital to building the high value industries of the future. The South West has the ingredients in place to develop a vibrant open innovation ecosystem – international research-led Universities, major blue chip corporates, a potentially strong SME sector which embraces disruptive technologies and a developing skills base. It still falls short of a proper innovation eco-system. However the Science Park offers the potential to provide a new hub to accelerate open innovation in the region.”

Mr Hutton went on to participate in a panel discussion with business and university leaders about how best to encourage open innovation and collaboration between the South West’s leading academics and key sectors to build the industries of the future. These sectors include creative and digital, wireless, advanced materials and clean technology companies.

Bonnie Dean, chief executive of the Bristol & Bath Science Park, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Will Hutton to the Bristol & Bath Science Park to champion the role of open innovation in accelerating the transfer of research from universities and research centres into industry. The UK invests over £4 billion a year in research and the new ideas generated from this investment represent a significant opportunity to reshape and rebuild our economy. We are grateful to Will for offering inspiration to the region and for encouraging business and academia to embrace the power of open innovation.”

Lorelei Hunt, Science City Bristol director added:

“The Bristol and Bath region is a major centre for research-led industries such as aerospace, electronics, life sciences and green technology. Their future competitiveness depends on working in a broader way – across organisational boundaries, between large and small businesses and universities in an effective and vibrant ecosystem. We are thrilled to welcome Will Hutton to our inaugural event here today, as a leading advocate of open innovation and its capacity to transform the UK economy.”

Marine Current Turbines, a tidal energy company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Siemens company, has moved from the Science Park’s Innovation Centre into the Grow On Centre, providing office and research space for up to 72 members of staff. TDK-Lambda has taken space for its advanced power electronics research engineers who will work closely with research laboratories in North Devon UK, Israel and Japan. Since announcing the move the firm has already seen a five-fold increase in the level of applicants from candidates with traditionally hard-to-find skills. Lastly, CFMS Ltd, an independent, not-for-profit engineering design simulation organisation formed as a joint venture between leading engineering firms, will move to the Science Park from Bristol Business Park in January 2013.

Today’s event also saw the unveiling of the world’s largest solar chandelier – a major new work illustrating the link between science and art, creativity and innovation. Created by the internationally acclaimed and Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram (Play Me I’m Yours – street pianos placed in public spaces around the world and Aeolus Canary Wharf, London) whose three glass sculptures of viruses will be permanently on display at the Science Park, the five metre high chandelier is suspended from the ceiling of the Science Park’s stunning three storey-high, glass-fronted Forum building. It is made up of 700 glass Crookes radiometers, individual glass bulbs containing metal paddles that spin when powered by sunlight, causing the chandelier to shimmer and flicker.

Artist Luke Jerram said:

“Scientists and artists often start by asking similar questions about the natural world but end up with completely different answers. Both have to take a leap from what can be observed into what is unknown. It’s important to explore these boundaries and limitations. After the invention of the radiometer, a fierce debate raged about how they worked and it was many years before this was fully explained. They are still beautiful, inspiring and thought provoking. In a way, the chandelier couldn’t really be anywhere else but Bristol & Bath Science Park, a place built to solve scientific riddles and to lead to innovation.”

Bristol and Bath were made a joint Science City in 2005 in recognition of the region’s strengths in research-led industries such as aerospace, electronics, life sciences and green technology. The region is second-only in the world to Silicon Valley for semi-conductor development and has a highly skilled workforce with the highest concentration of PhD graduates in the UK. The universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England, which are all key stakeholders in the Bristol & Bath Science Park, offer access to world-class research and expertise.

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