Hardware Incubator

In addition to its world-leading research and teaching activities, Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) sits at the heart of the region’s thriving robotics sector, offering businesses and entrepreneurs a range of start-up, growth, innovation, training and talent development solutions. Its Hardware Incubator and Robotics Innovation Facility have hosted and supported some of Bristol and Bath’s most successful tech enterprises.

“Hardware is hard” and “start-ups that make things need support” – two statements that inform the ethos of BRL’s Hardware Incubator and its unique combination of space, mentoring and technical resources. Similarly, the fact that businesses of all shapes and sizes face challenges in adopting, deploying and operating automation technologies, directly informs the work of BRL’s Robotics Innovation Facility (RIFBristol).

Between them, these two initiatives are helping to ensure that the West of England remains at the forefront of robotics and tech innovation, and that businesses operating across key sectors – from advanced engineering and manufacturing, to healthcare and the creative/digital industries – are able to exploit the opportunities this presents.

BRL’s Hardware Incubator has a track record of helping companies and innovators to grow, secure investment and progress from desktop prototypes to batch and mass production. Its start-ups have access to an inspiring space and join a community of hardware experts, with dedicated desks, a FabLab and a supportive mentoring programme. Several alumni feature in this publication, including Elumotion, Service Robotics, Open Bionics, Consequential Robotics, Homelync and Perceptual Robotics and CENTAUR Robotics.

Growing a hardware business is challenging, with tooling issues and economies of scale needing to be addressed, and multi-disciplinary approaches being adopted. The BRL Hardware Incubator team, led by its Incubation Manager – winner of the SPARKies 2020 ‘Best Mentor Award’ – understands these barriers and helps its residents to overcome them.

RIFBristol provides training, consultancy, proof-of-concept and research solutions to a range of businesses – from start-ups to large multinationals. Recognised as a European Digital Innovation Hub, it maintains an array of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and has expertise spanning robotics, automation, mechanical and electronic engineering, IoT/5G, mechatronics and simulation. From introductory robotics courses, to prototyping and new product validation, its services help clients to overcome innovation challenges and stand out from their competitors.

• £46M GVA contributed to the UK economy
• 235 new jobs created by supported enterprises
• £20M investment secured by Incubator clients
• 650+ businesses received training or research assistance

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