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The SPARKies 2018 – What a night, What a year!

What a difference a year makes. Last night saw the bright and beautiful from Bristol’s tech industry come together to celebrate success at the 2018 chapter of The SPARKies Awards. As the dust settles, it’s hard to think that a year has passed since we were doing the same in Bath’s Komedia last June, but a year it has been. And, for the Bristol and Bath tech cluster, what a 12 months it’s been.

Start-up and scale-up businesses across the region raised in excess of $300m in the last 12 months. To put this in perspective, in the year during which our friends at the Engine Shed opened their doors for the first time four and a half years ago, this figure was closer to $40m. Given that a significant chunk of this investment came from Silicon Valley giant Sequoia (the investors behind countless global success stories – Apple, AirBnB, Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, WhatsApp – you name it!), Bristol & Bath’s recent successes has seen us firmly on the map both on the national and the international stage. The Tech Nation report for 2018 illustrates this point well, showing the Bristol & Bath cluster as the most productive in the UK with the tech sector generating more than £320k per employee.

It’s hardly a surprise then, given the year that we’ve had, that the awards designed to celebrate all of this were bigger and better than ever before. Our partners TechSPARK out-did themselves. With 16 separate awards, north of 250 nominations and more votes than in any previous year – it’s difficult to know where to start! A massive hats off of course to all of the nominees and winners on the night – with a special mention to our friends at Ultrahaptics, winners of the ADLIB-sponsored ‘Best Place to Work in Tech’ Award. Other highlights include smashing food, a beautiful summer’s evening on the terrace of Bristol’s Motion and Jayde Adams off the telly treating us to a full-volume Nessum Dorma as sung on the Megabus Gold to Scotland.

From ADLIB’s perspective, we can’t wait to see what the 12 months ahead have in store. In the next few weeks alone our friends at the Oracle Start-up Cloud Accelerator programme are set to announce their second cohort, our friends at Runway East are opening their doors in Bristol for the first time ever and our friends at SETsquared are showing us what their member companies have been working on in the annual Tech-Xpo.

The bar has been set high in terms of what can be achieved as a region in a one year alone, but we get the sense that the Bristol & Bath tech cluster might just be getting warmed up. We’re proud to be part of the rollercoaster and nights like last night make all the hard work worthwhile.

To all our friends that make the Bristol & Bath tech scene what it is, we salute you!