Businesses based at UWE Bristol’s science and tech hub Future Space are celebrating the award of Innovate UK funding designed to help companies continue innovation and development activities through the coronavirus crisis.

£1.3m funding has been secured by resident businesses in the last three months, supported by the Future Space team.

Future Space businesses securing Innovate UK coronavirus grants, created by the Government to support businesses driving innovation and development, include biodevice tech IP specialist BiotIP; digital experts 500More; pioneers in Cyber-Physical Operating Systems Indus Four; software solutions provider HBXL, mass spectrometry experts Mass Spec Analytical; 3D scanning and software engineering firm OR3D; and eco-technology provider to the transport and aviation industries Intercede Ventures.

In addition, transport solutions innovator Esoterix was one of 25 organisations to snap up a share of a £9.4million pot offered by the Department of Transport and delivered by Innovate UK in its 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, which encourages innovation in the rail industry.

The £370k grant has enabled Esoterix to recruit four new members of staff to support with the project which will be completed by the end of March 2021.

Meanwhile, Service Robotics, the company behind GenieConnect®, the companion robot that helps older adults live independently in their homes through voice-enabled face-to-face video support, successfully completed a second seed funding round amounting to £600k.

Future Space returned to full operation for all companies on 29 June and maintained access throughout the lockdown period for its lab-based businesses to enable vital research to continue uninterrupted.

The team worked closely with UWE Bristol at the start of lockdown to put in place a support package for all companies.

Resident companies benefitted from Q&A sessions on the furlough scheme and employment issues; grant application support; and opportunities to speak to a wide range of industry experts through the newly launched ‘advisory_space’ programme.
All companies also received three months’ 50% rent reduction and access to UWE Bristol’s Summer Internship scheme.

Service Robotics and another Future Space business Healcerion EMEA have appointed fully funded interns for the summer as part of the scheme designed to create employment opportunities during the challenging Covid period.

Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation (OI) on behalf of the University of the West of England (UWE), and offers a range of office space, shared and dedicated laboratories, workshops and coworking facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science based entrepreneurs and innovators.

Future Space centre director Laura Crocken Stevens said: “It’s testament to the pioneering work ongoing here at Future Space that these innovation-driven grants and funding have been received by our customers and we look forward to seeing what the next phase brings.

“We have been focused on assisting all our resident businesses through lockdown. Every company has a different story to tell. For our lab customers it was essential for us to maintain access to Future Space to continue important research work and others needed assistance to take advantage of Government support measures.”

Professor Martin Boddy, pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at UWE Bristol and a key founder of Future Space commented: “There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has created unexpected challenges, with the situation still evolving. Future Space businesses have, however, shown great resilience in the face of these challenges and continue to innovate and grow.

“These funding awards are great news and we look forward to seeing the emergence of ground-breaking work as a result. Future Space has become synonymous with excellence in innovation, demand for our space and facilities remains buoyant and we look forward to continuing growth and development.”

Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation (OI) on behalf of the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE), and offers a range of office space, shared and dedicated laboratories, workshops and co-working facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science based entrepreneurs and innovators.
The hub last year posted record results, with over £9 million of regional Gross Value Added (GVA) in its third year of operation.