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What a difference 15 years make – our partners

We took our 15th birthday celebration as an occasion to catch up with some of our friends to ask them questions revolving around “15 years – the past, the now and the future”. A lot changes in 15 years, in our careers, our lives, our business environments.

For this part, we‘ve asked some of our partners some questions. Here some insights from Abby Frear, Business & Partnerships Director at TechSPARK, Caroline Marshall, Editor & Ops Director at Bristol Media and Matthew Cross, Head of Inward Investment at Invest in Bristol and Bath

Abby, what have been the key milestones and success stories over the past 15 years that have shaped Bristol and Bath into the highly regarded tech and creative hub we all enjoy today?

Bristol & Bath have long been a centre for the Hi-Tech industries such as aerospace, with companies like Airbus and GKN having large bases here for years, but it’s only recently developed its reputation in other fields such as creative and digital industries including robotics, VR and gaming.

This has been helped along by the development of some fantastic incubator spaces such as the Bristol Robotics Lab and the SETsquared incubators, as well as the coworking spaces like Engine Shed, The Guild and Desklodge which all help to create a collaborative and more productive cluster!

There’s a plethora of great tech focused meetups springing up over the last few years, and the region is growing its own amazing annual conferences such as VR World Congress, Bath Digital Festival, Vision and Bristech, as well as attracting some more international ones such as Like Minds and Voxxed Days.

TechSPARK itself has also doubled in size over the last year- and of course, we’re aiming to keep building and contributing to all this too!
Abby Frear, Director – Business & Partnerships at TechSPARK

Caroline, What are the biggest changes you’ve seen within the world of Bristol Media and the sectors you operate in over the past 15 years?

Bristol Media didn’t exist 15 years ago. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary in 2015 with a party for 300 people, a beautiful book and a showreel of work by our members which is shown at events all over the city. We now have almost 600 paying members and are one of the largest creative communities in the UK with a full programme of events, workshops, the Vision Conference, Master Class Days and socials.

In the last 15 years, this sector has changed immeasurably and the city is now recognized as having global expertise in virtual reality, mobile apps, cutting edge camera technology and social media.

Fifteen years ago, no one had ever even heard of social media. Now we can’t live our lives without Facebook, Snapchat, Vimeo, Vine, Instagram and Twitter. And this year Bristol is the first city in the UK outside London to run Social Media Week. With 46 events across the week and keynotes from Facebook, Buzzfeed, Twitter and YouTube, it shows that Bristol is firmly on the map when it comes to all things ‘social’. Technology is changing our lives at such a pace, I wonder what we will we be talking about in another 15 years?
Caroline Marshall, Editor & Ops Director at Bristol Media

Matthew, where would you like to see Bristol and Bath 15 years from now?

Bristol and Bath is already a leader in the digital and tech sectors, we are hosting VR World Congress for the third time next year and boast the largest robotics lab in Europe for example. So quite simply in 15 years’ time, it would be amazing if the tech cluster had spawned and grown the next Uber or Spotify. For a unicorn to emerge in our own backyard would secure the future of the tech cluster in the region for years to come, attracting further talent and investment. It is by no means impossible.
Matthew Cross, Head of Inward Investment at Invest in Bristol and Bath

Thank you for sharing!