A note from Nick Sturge, Engine Shed Director: Local Industrial Strategy
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As my internship draws to a close, I’m writing this blog as a recollection of the experiences and insights I’ve had over the past four weeks. I’m a recent graduate from the University of Bristol, having studied a Master’s of Engineering with a year abroad spent in Australia and reached out to Briony to gain further work experience. Based at Engine Shed, my time spent in the scale-up sector has provided invaluable networking opportunities and a greater understanding of post-university career options. Under the direction of Briony, I have been able to work closely with some of the scale-ups at Engine Shed and the wider community.
One of the first tasks I was given at Engine Shed was to resolve issues that had arisen from using the software ‘Youcanbookme’, an online booking system used to create events for the ‘in Residence’ system. This service is open to members of the public who wish to find out more information about property or investment into scale-ups. Some of the concerns that staff were having involved ease-of-use, unexpected missing appointments, an aesthetically displeasing website and a time consuming process to create. Eventbrite offered a more flexible and attractive platform to build events for the ‘in Residence’ services. The creation of a handover document made the process more streamlined for explaining to colleagues and was received with flying colours (pending Faye’s attempt).
Leading on from my predecessor, Will Dunlop and his work on both visible and invisible scale-ups, my task was to further refine the industry sectors for over 700 scale-ups in the West of England area. Whilst faced with an ominous assignment, the extensive list showed me the number of opportunities and businesses in the area that make Bristol such a rich region for the tech industry. Combined with the work for Tech Nation on the ‘AR West of England Growth Map‘ (an interactive 3-D view of businesses in the local community), technology has had and will continue to have a big role in the way businesses operate in years to come.
Another improvement to my skill set in terms of business acumen has come from the Quarterly Investment Briefing, an event which is designed to bring together investors from the community to learn, share and network. This brings to light the number of funders in the area and vast ecosystem surrounding it.
One of the primary reasons that attracted me to the internship was the scope for networking to make new contacts and pursue exciting opportunities from them. Having attended the Silicon Valley Bank event at the Lido, I was overwhelmed by the size and reputation of the tech scene in Bristol.
My final project for the internship brought together a snapshot of the interaction between universities in the West of England and scale-ups in the area. Further work must be completed in order to gauge the level of existing communication and interaction for activities such as academic consultancy, research collaboration and student engagement. I will leave it to my successor to devise new solutions to help increase interaction.
In the four weeks spent at Engine Shed, I’ve learned a lot about the work and drive that goes on behind the scenes with a view to make day-to-day operations smoother. The management team have a passion and enthusiasm like no other company I’ve experienced, whilst maintaining a high standard of professionalism in their work. I’ve been lucky enough to gain contacts within the industry to further advance my choice of career and hope to stay in contact for future years to come.
Joseph Walder, Engine Shed Intern, University of Bristol Graduate (2018)