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©UWE BristolThe interior of Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol

Knowledge and Learning

With a network of schools, large further education colleges and two major international universities, our city’s education sector strengthens its labour market, the draw to students, researchers and businesses, and the capacity for enterprise and innovation.

The University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) support innovative start-ups and growing businesses – including high-tech digital, sustainable and creative industries – to promote innovation, jobs and opportunity.

One such hub, the Engine Shed, is key to the city’s success. By providing space, creating encounters and running  projects, it enables businesses, entrepreneurs, academics, social innovators and corporates to work in partnership. Showcasing the region’s strengths and innovations, it is a collaboration between Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol and the West of England LEP.

The technology incubator at the Engine Shed incorporates SETsquared Bristol – a long-standing partnership between the universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey – which provides high-quality support, business guidance, and strong links to university expertise, for private sector or university spinouts. To date, it has supported over 200 ventures in telecoms, automotive, biotech and security.

  • Eight point eight per cent of Bristol’s jobs are in education
  • Fifty one per cent of working age residents are qualified to degree level or above


Education in Bristol is about more than formal learning. Yes, we do have two leading universities, home to 56,000 students, and are England’s first official UNESCO Learning City, but for us learning is about improving the cultural, economic, environmental and social aspects of city life. By linking with industry, we create opportunities to develop a world-class workforce for the city and equip people from all backgrounds with the skills they need for work and life.

We lead the research field in robotics, environment and life sciences, digital technologies, data science, population health, and assisted living, and are part of the GW4 network  which brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK – Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Home to a wide range of opportunities – especially in the creative and technological sectors – and a great quality of life, it’s no wonder that around half of Bristol graduates choose to stay in the city to pursue their careers and enjoy their lives.

Credit Science CreatesScientist with a petri dish showing things growing

Importance to the city

Nearly half the city’s university graduates end up staying in the region.  Many end up joining one of the creative or tech industries Bristol is renowned for, or starting their own businesses, supported by our business incubators and the country’s highest business start-up rates.

UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone drives innovation and enterprise, providing opportunities and outstanding spaces for a thriving community of start-ups, fast-growth businesses, graduate entrepreneurs and cooperative research in the high-tech, robotics, digital and health-tech sectors. Technology and world-class research facilities include start-up and fast-growth business spaces Future Space, Launch Space and the BRL Hardware Incubator, plus lab facilities Health Tech Hub and the Robotics Innovation Facility.

As well as founding Engine Shed and SETsquared, the University of Bristol is a founding partner in Bristol VR Lab. This initiative aims to build collaborations around virtual reality for projects in research, teaching and outreach, working closely with the technology and creative sectors.

The Engine Shed Credit Nick SmithPeople sitting and working in the bright and colourful Engine Shed shared workspace

City support

As a UNESCO Learning City, Bristol benefits from sharing ideas, practice and dialogue with peer cities by forging links, fostering partnerships and ensuring inclusive life-long learning for all its residents.

On a physical level, the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus will focus on digital, business and social innovation by bringing together world-class academic, industrial and entrepreneurial expertise. As a key venue for the UK digital economy it will enhance Bristol’s reputation as a global destination for innovation.

UWE Bristol has invested over £3 million in designing, developing and delivering targeted programmes which together have secured  £11 million for the region and leveraged over £10 million of private investment. They include:

CGI of of the university development. Credit University of BristolCGI of University of Bristol's entrance

Sector voice

“Bristol is a city of two halves – with economic, social and historical challenges that need addressing.  There’ll always be challenges but it is how Bristol engages with them that make this the best city in the world for me.

Creativity and pursuit of innovation are in the DNA of this city and her people. There is enterprise everywhere and Bristolians are always experimenting with new ideas to make life better”.

Paul Olomolaiye

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equalities and Civic Engagement at UWE Bristol

©UWE BristolPaul Olomolaiye head shot

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