Bristol’s deep tech ecosystem is thriving
Science Creates is already incubating some of the most exciting science and engineering companies in the country which collectively raised more than £18.4 million in 2021
Science Creates, the deep tech ecosystem that nurtures science and engineering start-ups and spin-outs, has today opened its second specialised incubator space in Bristol. It will be home to a new generation of scientists-turned-entrepreneurs leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, synthetic biology, nano technologies and quantum computing which will be used to tackle big problems such as cancer, vaccine development and climate change.
The incubator, which is located in Old Market in Bristol’s city centre, provides an additional 30,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art laboratories, offices and event space to support the growth of deep tech start-ups. Its opening follows the success of Science Creates’ first incubator in St Philips, which is at full capacity and has since earned a reputation in Bristol as the hub of science and engineering entrepreneurship. Both incubators, which are operated in partnership with the University of Bristol and Research England, bring Science Creates’ physical footprint to 45,000 sq ft, supporting around 100 companies, with the potential to create up to 450 jobs.
In 2020, Science Creates also launched a dedicated venture capital fund, Science Creates Ventures, which has gone on to lead numerous rounds and, together with the incubators, creates the ability for companies be more ambitious and to raise the capital they need.
Science Creates is already incubating some of the most exciting deep tech companies in the country which collectively raised £18.4 million in 2021. Some examples include:
- Imophoron – a University of Bristol biotech start-up developing a novel, next generation rapid-response vaccine platform. It has raised £4 million, led by Science Creates Ventures.
- CytoSeek – a University of Bristol spin-out developing new cell therapies to treat solid tumours. It raised £3.5 million in March, in a round led by Science Creates Ventures.
- KETS Quantum Security – also a spin-out from the University of Bristol, developing hardware to protect data from a new generation of cyberattacks that could use quantum computers to break through all existing encryption protections. It raised £3.1 million in August.
- QLM Technology – a start-up on a mission to help organisations reach net-zero emissions. Its quantum-inspired technology can detect large areas of emissions of methane and other key greenhouse gases from a safe distance. It raised £3.1 million in April.
Bristol is fast becoming the UK capital of deep tech innovation and continues to attract significant venture capital investment. In 2020, it ranked the third-highest city in the UK for VC investment valuing over $400 million, with much of that pouring into deep tech companies such as Graphcore and Vertical Aerospace. The city attracted more VC money than many of its European counterparts including Tallinn, Barcelona, Oslo, Madrid and Bucharest. Bristol is expecting similar success in 2021 too: according to data from Tech Nation, after London, it has attracted the most VC funding in the UK so far this year.
Dr Harry Destecroix, founder of Science Creates, comments: “Boston might be the powerhouse for deep tech, but we believe Bristol will also become famous for being a world-class ecosystem that supports scientists and engineers in commercialising ground-breaking innovations. the city is home to creative, innovative trendsetters and it has world class research university and a strong sense of community. But we are only just getting started. Bristol continues to grow as a hub for helping scientists take their discoveries off the shelf and into the real world. Our strength lies in deep tech – an area that is growing more than twice as fast as any other tech sector.
“This is where Science Creates comes in. We have two purpose-built incubators, a venture capital firm funding early-stage start-ups, and a network of mentors and advisors with specific, relevant experience – all of which is vital for business development and innovation.”
Dr Xiao Ai, CTO and co-founder, says: “At QLM, we are innovating and developing technology to bring solutions to the critical problem of reducing emissions. All start-up companies need support, especially those developing hardware. To start and grow a software company, you often don’t need much physical infrastructure since it can all be done remotely and in the cloud. But engineering high-tech products like ours that combine software and analytics with photonics and electromechanical systems is a bigger challenge. We need specialised lab space, infrastructure, access to experienced professionals such as engineering contractors with specific expertise, and access to talent and collaborators from universities and research institutions. Science Creates has provided for all these critical needs and has enabled us to contribute to making Bristol a hub of innovation and technical product development.”
Professor Philip Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, says: “This new purpose-built incubator is a tremendous boost for the region. It is also testament to the remarkable mix of scientific talent, technological innovation and entrepreneurial growth we have in the city, underpinned by our Science Creates partners.
“As we face an unprecedented amount of global health and environmental challenges, it brings into sharp focus the importance of deep-tech incubators that can accelerate progress in the lab to deliver solutions to problems which have the potential to affect us all.”
Science Creates grew out of the original incubator which Harry set up in 2017 after discovering there was no home for science companies in the city. One of its first residents was Ziylo, a biotech working to develop one of the first smart insulins to help people suffering from diabetes. In 2018, it was purchased by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk in a deal potentially worth $800 million. It was from this moment that Harry saw the opportunity to expand his incubator into an ecosystem that invests in and supports other exciting deep tech innovations.