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Spotlight on Bristol and Bath's tech cluster by innovation festival

Spotlight on Bristol and Bath's tech cluster by innovation festival

A spotlight will be shone on Bristol and Bath’s vibrant high tech cluster when the UK becomes the first country to host a nationwide OpenCo innovation festival, backed by Tech City UK.

Now in its third year, OpenCo, which was first launched in San Francisco and later spread to cities including London, will involve clusters from across the UK, including Bristol and Bath’s tech hub.

Some of the most innovative businesses from Bristol and Bath will open their doors to executives, entrepreneurs, investors, potential employees and other members of the public on October 2.

Bonnie Dean, one of the organisers of OpenCo Bristol & Bath and chief executive of Bristol & Bath Science Park, said: “OpenCo offers a rare, not-to-be-missed opportunity to gain compelling insight into the businesses which are working on the very latest innovations in technology.

“Bristol and Bath’s tech cluster is the ideal location for such an event as it has strong networks across a diverse combination of inter-related sectors such as high tech, creative and digital media, robotics and aerospace, resulting in plenty of collaborative working, a key ingredient of any OpenCo event.”

The OpenCo event will kick off with an opening drinks reception held at Bristol & Bath Science Park on the evening of October 1, before the main festival gets underway on October 2. A closing reception, sponsored by inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath, will be held at the Engine Shed, Bristol, on the evening of October 2.

The line-up features social video company Yogcast, which is behind the largest gaming YouTube channel globally; XMOS, the semiconductor company with huge potential to capitalise on ‘the internet of things’; Bristol Games Hub, the largest independent co-working hub for games developers, and Pervasive Media Studio, whose presentation looks set to embrace topics ranging from personal space travel to the future of musical instruments.

Other companies to take part include: Money Hub, where technology is being used to revolutionise the financial world; and Toshiba, which will look beyond WiFi to future communications for future communities.

Bristol and Bath’s high tech hub was highlighted recently in an influential report by Centre for Cities/McKinsey & Co as the only “globally-significant”, “high-growth” UK cluster of its kind outside of London. As well as being a world leader in media and digital entertainment, the region is at the heart of Europe’s largest aerospace cluster, built on a rich heritage of advanced engineering.

Bristol and Bath’s thriving tech sector is underpinned by a host of incubators and networks, including SETsquared, named recently as Europe’s top university business incubator and second best in the world, Bristol & Bath Science Park, The Guild, the Engine Shed, the University of Bath Innovation Centre and others.

The full list of the 14 companies and organisations based in Bristol and Bath that will be involved in OpenCo is as follows: Zynstra; Genius Digital; CFMS Services Ltd; Wildseed Studios; XMOS; Coull; Bristol Games Hub; Pervasive Media Studio; Sift; Money Hub; Mubaloo; Yogscast; Toshiba; Engine Shed.

Joe McGeehan, chair of Invest Bristol & Bath and special advisor to Toshiba, said: “It is highly appropriate that Bristol and Bath’s tech hub has become part of the OpenCo phenomenon as the cluster is a vibrant and dynamic hub of innovation, which competes on an international level. It is home to a real melting pot of companies, bolstered by the string leading tech players, such as JUST EAT, Huawei, Kainos and Somo, which have chosen to invest in the region recently.”  

The closing reception at Engine Shed will be followed by an event by Bristech, a group of technically-minded people who meet up to discuss new and interesting things that can be done in the world of computer programming. The event will host two talks from local developers on Agile and Open Source.

OpenCo (known as NewCo outside the UK) now takes place in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boulder, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam. It has attracted over 10,000 attendees over the past two years and has involved many of the world’s most inspiring and forward-thinking business leaders. 

The festival is described by founders as a mashup of an open studio tour and a tech conference, with the vibe of a music festival. The free, one day event is broken down into one-hour segments, where participants share the stories behind their business, their vision as well as any new projects or developments they are working on. 

Visit http://uk.openco.us/bath-bristol/ to pick your schedule for OpenCo Bristol & Bath.

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