A note from Marty Reid: The right space to bring people together

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Back in February I opened my note with “Finally, something to look forward to” in reference to the lockdown roadmap and momentum building on regional projects. It’s felt like a long slog since then, but a day based in Engine Shed last week gave me a real sense that we are getting there. 

I’ve always thought of Engine Shed as representing far more than just a building (even such a nice one) and the last year, naturally, has had our team thinking more about projects than meetups. But I was reminded last week that the community who come to meet, share, discuss, and hopefully be inspired by one another, are really at the heart of what we do.  

As someone said to me, “don’t underestimate the importance of the right space to bring people together.” 

Without any pre-arranged meetings or plans… 

I caught up with my predecessor, Nick Sturge, who has been doing some fantastic work over the past year to support the launch of the Golden Valley Development. The ambitious plans are taking shape for an industry, innovation and community hub around cyber that will create opportunities right across the region. 

I had a chat with the MyWorld and Digital Catapult teams who are leading a broad group of industry and academic partners to build on the strengths of the Bristol and Bath creative and technology cluster to take the role of “international trailblazer in screen-based media”. The plans include a new R&D facility to create new experiences in fiction, documentary, games and live performances”. 

The University of Bristol Careers team were in discussing opportunities for student and employer engagement; a group from the Western Gateway were exploring how better to connect industries across the West of England and Wales; a range of people were starting to shape events for the Bristol Technology Festival in October, and, of course, our usual mix of exciting innovative and tech businesses were sharing ideas over coffee. 

If you are reading this and still feeling worried or unsure about the state of the economic recovery, or just about getting out and seeing people again, you are definitely not alone. But I can say confidently that there are brilliant opportunities active again in our region, many of which are laying the groundwork for things to be bigger, better and fairer than they were before. When you are feeling ready, I can’t recommend enough to take the step of getting out again and seeing the people who got you excited about business, community or innovation in the first place. And if you need advice, words of experience or support to get there, please just reach out. 

and finally…

Huge congratulations to our inspirational friends and long-term Engine Shed tenants Gapsquare, who were acquired earlier this month by XpertHR. Zara Nanu and the team have dedicated their extensive talents over the past few years in applying cutting edge analytics technologies to help employers achieve pay equity and now have the platform to scale their work on a global stage.  

If anyone needs any more evidence that impact led ventures have huge commercial and growth potential while also making the world a better place, they should take a closer look.  

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