5 of our favourite high-tech companies in Bristol

Bristol and the South-West of England have become home to a significant concentration of modern technology companies in the early 21st century.

Surveying the scene with a view to writing an article on the exciting start-ups and established backbones of industry in our region, we found we were spoiled for choice. With hundreds of eligible and eminently worthy candidates to choose from, we can only say that the following five are a small selection of some of our favourites.

National Composites Centre

The National Composites Centre was newly established and incorporated in July 2010 as a product of the government’s Composites Strategy, and is located at the Bristol & Bath Science Park in Emersons Green, Bristol.

Among the goals of the N.C.C. is to provide training in advanced and specialised composites technologies. As a subsidiary company of the University of Bristol, it is well placed for helping to train the next generation of British materials scientists.

If you’re not sure what is meant by composites, they are perhaps better and more fully described as composite materials – that is to say, materials made from two or more constituent materials that work together to provide enhanced properties compared with those of either material in isolation. Examples of composites range from the banal to the highly sophisticated, including concrete, mortar, reinforced plastics, ceramic composites, metal composites, and advanced composites of use in the most demanding environments such as aerospace engineering.

The N.C.C. is more than just a training facility, however. It also provides industrial-scale manufacturing facilities for composite designs, so it is directly helping British materials industries to develop and trial products. Further, it helps to direct and focus scientific research into composites in the UK.

Full disclosure: we have been privileged to work for the NCC on their website for a number of years.

nccuk.com

Bristol Robotics Laboratory

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory is arguably the UK’s most thriving hub of robotics research and development today. Officially opened in May 2012, it is located in spacious facilities at the Frenchay campus of the University of the West of England in Stoke Gifford, Bristol, and was formed as a collaboration between UWE and the University of Bristol.

BRL is now home to hundreds of researchers and academics, and offers taught degrees in robotics and related subjects at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Within the BRL is also found a Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems that oversees PhD research programmes.

BRL’s official mission statement is ‘to understand the science, engineering and social role of robotics and embedded intelligence’. But its activities are far from being limited to the dry, academic discipline this form of words suggests. On the contrary, it works closely with industry to provide useful research and development in robotics. Among its areas of research that are of real-world industrial applicability are tactile sensors, machine vision, robot safety, smart automation, driverless cars, unmanned aerial vehicles, assisted living technologies, and medical robotics.

BRL has also incubated some eighteen technology start-up companies, many of them in the field of robotics.

brl.ac.uk

XMOS

With its UK corporate headquarters in Wine Street, Bristol, XMOS Ltd. is a local technology company with an international market reach. Incorporated in June 2005, it specialises in the design and production of integrated circuits for digital audio processing and control applications.

Promising fast response times and ultra-low latency, XMOS technology is ideally suited to the needs of 21st century studio audio equipment design engineers, as well as those of sound engineers and music producers. But it also has many other applications in microphone signal capture and processing.

xmos.com

Ultrahaptics

Based at Glass Wharf in Bristol, Ultrahaptics Limited was incorporated in November 2013. The company is developing a futuristic human interface technology based on the use of targeted ultrasound to generate tactile feedback sensations in free space. Applications for the technology include the recognition of human gestures at a distance as instructions to control systems, for example while driving, in the kitchen, or in gaming.

Bringing science fiction dreams to reality is not possible without a great deal of research and development; and Ultrahaptics are currently recruiting volunteers to test their products and even to develop their own concept products using the technology. Why not enjoy a taste of the future ahead of the crowd and sign up to their evaluation programme?

ultrahaptics.com

Open Bionics

With headquarters at Future Space UWE North Gate, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, Open Bionics is a medical technology development company working in the field of prosthetics research and development. Incorporated in April 2014, the company is particularly focused on the development of affordable bionic hands and arms.

Among the technologies it has been incorporating into its cost-saving designs are electromyography (EMG) sensors and 3D printing. It is also eager to produce designs with visual flair, such as ones inspired by video games, to increase their appeal to style-conscious wearers.

openbionics.com

We hope you enjoyed this round-up of five of the most exciting technology start-ups and centres based in Bristol