Brunel’s Engine Shed opens for business
Brunel’s original train station, once Bristol’s gateway to the world, has opened its doors once again – as the city’s new enterprise hub to drive inward investment, create jobs and encourage a new generation of high growth businesses.
The Engine Shed, a Grade I listed building built by the famous engineer in 1841, has had a £1.7 million transformation thanks to a partnership between Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Its prime location makes it one of the world’s most connected enterprise hubs, acting as a ‘shopfront’ for potential investors in the region. Experts predict it will generate 5,000 high-value jobs in the next 15 years in the high-tech, creative and low carbon sectors.
Greg Clark, the Minister for Cities, joined Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson and Professor Sir Eric Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University, to officially launch the next exciting chapter in the building’s history on 2 December.
The Mayor’s support for the project has seen it get off the ground with unprecedented speed, moving from initial approval from the Council in March to the completion of building work in November.
Mayor George Ferguson comments: “The opening of Engine Shed in record time demonstrates the innovation, ambition and collaborative working that exists here in the city.
“Once home to Brunel’s innovative railway, Engine Shed is now in the heart of Bristol’s Enterprise Zone and is home to creative and high tech companies developing the technology of the future.
“It is also key node on the GigaBit Bristol broadband network connecting buildings in the city, and developing the potential for new collaborative and creative working.”
The building will be managed by Bristol SETsquared – the University of Bristol’s double award-winning business incubator – who will take a third of the space to provide premium serviced offices for its early-stage technology businesses.
Nick Sturge, Director of Engine Shed, says the move will allow SETsquared to support more businesses than ever before and in turn create new high-value jobs.
He comments: “These are exciting times for the business community in Bristol. Thanks to Brunel, his Engine Shed once epitomised the cutting-edge of technology in the 19th Century, and now it will be a hub for new technology in the 21st Century.”
A total of 18 SETsquared companies are based at Engine Shed already with a further 44 businesses using the business centre’s resources and facilities including hot desks, breakout spaces and meeting rooms. In total, there will be space for 160 people.
Also based there will be the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Invest in Bristol and Bath growth hub, the new WebStart Bristol internet incubator and DigiCity, operated by the University of Bath Innovation Centre.
Engine Shed forms part of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, which will span 173 acres of land around Bristol Temple Meads train station.
It’s anticipated that the new Enterprise Zone will create 17,000 new jobs in total and bring 400 new companies to the city over the next two decades.