Engine Shed opened its doors to over 100 invitees on 23rd January with an event to mark its 4th anniversary, which focused on the launch of new projects, and a reflection on its successes so far.
The event celebrated Engine Shed’s passion for the future, as well as sharing some of its major achievements to date, including over 100 third party events, 2,587 school students hosted, 784 jobs created and £231m investment raised by members of hosted incubators, and an average 30,000 visitors per year.
Karen Drake, Operations Director, kicked the evening off with a short introduction quickly followed by talks from Engagement Officer Georgie Burr, Boomsatsuma’s Elliot Lamb, John Bradford of DigiLocal, and West of England Scale Up Enabler Briony Phillips.
Briony touched on the three main lessons she’s learned since working with Engine Shed, including the organisation’s focus on long-term gains, innovation, and inclusion. Addressing attendees, she said:
“Engine Shed takes an innovative approach – we broker connections, convene people, gather and share intelligence, drive collaboration, and seed and cultivate projects to deliver long-term impact for our economy and for our region. Whilst we might support short-term initiatives, we have the luxury of prioritising projects with no specific targets – that's where our 'fearlessness' comes to life.”
Engine Shed also launched its Super Project at the event. The Diverse Workforce for the Future project is supporting Boomsatsuma, Eidos and Babassa, DigiLocal, and Cognitive Paths as they create and deliver programmes for young people who might otherwise not have access to careers in the tech and digital sectors. Boomsatsuma’s Engine Shed on Tour will visit schools and youth groups to encourage young people to follow creative career paths, whilst DigiLocal’s community participation project will work with culturally diverse young people to deliver workshops and develop games which reflect their ideas, stories, and traditions.
John Bradford said: “We want young people in our communities to see high tech products that they recognise from their culture, and to see that high tech is a viable option for them… We also want young people to see other communities from the West of England and understand more about them. One of the greatest outcomes from an event we held last July was watching young people come together from all over, sharing ideas, sharing their projects, and seeing what one another had been working on.”
Supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the West of England is a primary focus for Engine Shed. As well as looking to the future and the generations who will be key to the continued success of the region, the forthcoming expansion into Engine Shed 2 will offer wider opportunities to support local businesses on their scale-up journeys.
Facilitated networking created a buzz of activity as attendees grouped together to share ideas and goals, sparking conversations to continue beyond the event and into the future. The diverse crowd benefitted from the insights of those they may not usually have opportunity to interact with – an embodiment of Engine Shed’s mission as a passionate weaver of relationships, bringing together unlikely collaborators and encouraging competitors to work under the same roof, sharing space, conversation, and aspirations.
Karen Drake, Engine Shed’s Operating Director, spoke of Engine Shed’s values and vision:
"Our vision is that the Bristol & Bath city region is a growing, inclusive and sustainable economy that benefits everyone who lives here, and that it is recognised internationally as innovative and dynamic… We are a future-facing organisation. We like learning, and finding out new ways to do things. We like to think we have a healthy impatience, and we have a generosity of spirit towards economic development in the region that creates financial value, which in turn creates social value. We like action.”
Over the past four years, Engine Shed has expanded its event spaces, room hire opportunities, desk spaces for employees, tenants, and members, and increased its sponsorship deals. As it continues to expand over the coming years, Engine Shed is open to the support of anyone interested in contributing to the region’s inclusive economic growth. Anyone interested in supporting or sponsoring Engine Shed projects is encouraged to get in touch.