17 April 2014

Bristol latest: tech funds and terrific people

It’s always useful to catch up on what’s happening in the Bristol tech scene by setting aside time to read around recent developments. There are nuggets out there to learn from and opportunities you might otherwise miss.

One thing that caught my eye, a few weeks back now, was that Engine Shed’s Blu Wireless Technology has been awarded a £1m grant towards development of its next-generation wireless technology.

It got the backing from the £25m West of England Growth Fund, which I should add is open for a new wave of bids right now.

The money will help Blu Wireless to develop and market its gigabit wireless technology, which could have applications in the emerging 60GHz WiGig addition to the Wi-Fi family and in wireless links for new 4G mobile networks.

Blu Wireless is in a notable fast-growth phase. It had seven members of staff at the start of the year and it expects to have 30 by the close of 2014. That's quite something.

The grant isn’t Blu Wireless’ primary funding source, either. It has raised almost £2.4m from private investors recently, which will allow it complete the development of certain prototypes by the end of the year. But the £1m grant was still the single largest amount awarded by the Growth Fund and Paul Wilson, chief executive of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, has said it is "exactly the type of project” the LEP wants to support.

Added to this, the business section of yesterday’s Post (as well as carrying a story about the latest deal we’ve supported – a fundraising for Future Drinks) carried some useful orginal research into Bristol as a business hub. Among the findings, 73% of respondents cited the quality of Bristol’s workforce as an important advantage of being based here – and in particular for tech and professional businesses.

I definitely support that finding: at Temple Bright we find time and again that there is fantastic talent among the businesses in the city, whether we are interacting as customers or suppliers or just as peers. And Bristol has already proved itself, time and again, as a great city in which to find the top legal talent that we need at Temple Bright.

With the UK economy getting back on course, these are exciting times for the city.

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