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EHDCYH Wide view of Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge in Bristol, England, UKWide view of Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge in Bristol, England, UK

Advanced Engineering

The region’s contributions to advances in the aerospace and advanced engineering industry are globally renowned – from Brunel’s suspension bridge and the Bristol Aeroplane Company, to Concorde and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, all leading the way in collaborative aeronautical research.

The industries that have grown up to support aerospace continue to innovate, and Bristol is increasingly recognised for its advanced engineering and manufacturing sectors. This sector is supported both by an extensive regional and national supply chain, providing materials, components and technical services and organisations such as the West of England Aerospace Forum, EEF and the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

The city region also hosts many centres of excellence: the Bristol Composites Institute, Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information and the School of Physics, all at the University of Bristol and the National Composites Centre in the Bristol & Bath Science Park, the Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England and the South West Composites Centre at the City of Bristol College.


    Bristol and the West of England are key to the UK’s aerospace and advanced engineering sector, and home to specialist design and manufacture of military and civil aircraft, satellite technology and advanced engine design. Of the 15 world-leading aerospace companies, 14 have bases in the Bristol and Bath area, and one of Europe’s largest clusters of aerospace is based just outside Bristol city centre.

    Although a relatively small part of the total economy – it is high value and set to take advantage of long-term changes in the market.

    The immediate impact of Covid-19 was severe, with a global slump in demand causing a 40% reduction in civil aerospace orders, and the sector is also undergoing longer term changes, with reduced production output and increased emphasis on development.

    Now is the time to identify new markets and opportunities, retain local investment and support longer-term productivity, the driving forces behind the ground-breaking Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation programme.

    Credit SanohMachinery at Sanoh

    Importance to the city

    Bristol and the surrounding region has a history of originality and innovation that still drives our growth and approach to modern challenges today. Arguably this rich heritage is influenced by some of the great work across engineering, whether Brunel’s suspension bridge, the Bristol Aerospace Company or Concorde.

    Today this innovative thinking underpins our output and our strategic approach. Just as the innovations of the past influenced and supported jobs and growth for the people of the city, today it’s critical we do the same.

    Credit SanohMachinery at Sanoh

    City support

    The Aerospace Sector Deal, which highlights the significant contribution made by the West of England, includes a potential £125 million of government funding for innovative projects under the Future Flight programme. This builds on investments like Airbus’s £40 million Wing of the Future Centre, which focuses on design and testing of wings.

    The National Composites Centre, the world-leading authority on composites, works with SMEs and the aerospace, automotive and energy industries, to accelerate the adoption of high-value, sustainable engineering solutions in composites. It is owned by the University of Bristol and part of the national High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

    Suspension bridge at dusk

    Sector voice

    “During my time in Engineering in Bristol, I have seen huge changes in the skills required to succeed in the sector. Technical aptitude and a need to embrace the embedding of IT in the sector means that, while the traditional, core skills in tool making remain, new technology has led to a rapid change in working practices and manufacturing processes.”

    Steve Bird, Maintenance Manager, Sanoh UK Manufacturing 

    Some examples of engineering companies in Bristol:



    Kliklok International





    Steve Bird sitting down

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