Bristol’s pioneering role in quantum and deep tech research and commercialisation.

A Q&A with Mustafa Rampuri, Director of Enterprise Services, University of Bristol.

1. For those that don’t know much about you, what is your role and what is your background?

My role is to help the University of Bristol deliver on its vision to support our partners, students and staff to achieve their enterprise and entrepreneurial aspirations. This means ensuring our innovation and enterprise assets like Engine Shed, SETsquared Bristol and QTIC+ are fully enabled to help achieve extraordinary outcomes within our region.

2. What does QTIC+ do?

QTIC+ is an innovation centre which supports businesses to take deep and emergent technology to market. Our core specialisms are quantum enhanced businesses, but we also have a great track record in cybersecurity and future networks. We provide business and technical support, as well as office, meeting and breakout spaces, high quality laboratories, a hackspace for prototyping and building device technologies, and of course, great coffee.

3. Why is quantum technology so important?

Quantum technologies work in ways that are very different to classical technologies. By harnessing the properties of single particles of light or single atoms, engineers and scientists have developed a new class of technology that goes far beyond the limitations of classical physics. This allows us to measure with greater precision, sense with greater certainty, provide communication secured by the laws of physics, simulate ultra-complex interactions, and solve problems using quantum computers that would be forever out of the reach of classical machines.

4. How are quantum technologies already influencing our lives and which sectors in your view will see the biggest growth looking forwards?

The advent of quantum technology has set in motion a chain of events that are already changing technologies that we rely on. For instance, cryptography, used to secure our online lives, is moving towards being “quantum safe” to mitigate that quantum computers are becoming so powerful they will render our current encryption schemes vulnerable to attack.  Looking forwards, the applications will be incredibly broad and exciting, from pharmaceuticals to the energy sector. Specific examples could be faster drug discovery through simulation and analysis of more complex molecules or helping to reduce our carbon footprint through optimisations of complex interactions such as autonomous transportation.

5. Why is the UK one of the world’s major investors in quantum research?

The UK has invested in quantum for decades, however in 2014 the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme launched which has invested over £500m in research and technology development. The West of England Combined Authority had the foresight to coinvest and awarded the University of Bristol £35m to establish QTIC+.  The University of Bristol is today one of the world’s leading quantum centres, boasting three Nobel prize winners.

6. QTIC+ is due to move to the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus (TQEC) in 2023. What will this mean for QTIC+?

As we transition to the Temple Quarter Campus we will take the keys to new state of the art labs, a Design Factory for rapid prototyping and a suite of offices, breakout and meeting spaces. All under the same roof with University industrial partners, academics and students, creating a vibrant and creative atmosphere that will attract talented people and make a great venue for supply chain development, building new networks and drawing investors to the region.

7. How can we attract more diversity and inclusion into the quantum and deep tech sectors?

This starts by breaking out of conventional modes of working to encourage people from diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life to engage with these types of activities in a way and a format that works for them, and together with community organisations who know best how to do this for the groups they represent.  It also needs visible role models and leaders from diverse backgrounds who people can take inspiration from and who can use their influence to help level the playing field. This is not easy and establishment organisations need to do more to help address the imbalance. Importantly this isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s a real business imperative. Organisations with a diverse workforce are more resilient and can attract a broader customer base. Bristol, as a city, is a great example, with over 90 languages spoken. This represents more than 90 potential export markets; it means employees who have different relationships with technology are included in the product definition allowing more versatile technologies to be created that have broader appeal.

8. How would you describe Engine Shed?

Engine Shed is one of the region’s leading organisations that support enterprise and entrepreneurship. It has a formidable track record and has consistently set the standard for support for a variety of organisations to drive inclusive economic growth in the region.

9. How is QTIC working with Engine Shed and SETsquared Bristol to support entrepreneurship and innovation in the region?

The new Enterprise Services remit brings together the University’s internationally recognised enterprise and innovation assets and programmes covering a broad range of support, networks and facilities for a wonderful mix of companies. Drawing this together enables the whole region to benefit from the investments made by regional and national government, our partners and the University over many years.  For me, I’m thrilled to be working with these extraordinary teams and I’m looking forward to creating even better services and support then before.

10. To what extent can Bristol do more for entrepreneurs?

Bristol as a region values entrepreneurship highly, however through focussed action to bring about a collective voice for the region then it will enable lines of investment to be opened. Through increased promotion of the region’s businesses and entrepreneurial talent, including better coordination of networks, increased capacity for training and skills and investment to address key market failures, the region will be well placed to thrive over the coming years.

11. How do you see the future role that universities need to have in a city economy?

Universities as anchor institutions play a vital role in regional economies; they act as attractors and producers of talent, investment and knowledge. During the pandemic, the University of Bristol has refocused on its civic mission proving that it has a role to play in supporting stimulus and economic renewal, particularly with communities in the region who would normally be overlooked, remaining in the productive margins.  The University will of course need to adapt and change continuously and its ability to do this will be the mark of success.

12. If someone is interested in exploring opportunities in quantum, who should they talk to?

If you are a high technology business looking for technical space and support we’d love to talk to you. Please visit the QTIC website and get in touch, or talk to our colleagues at Engine Shed or SETsquared who can help make an introduction.

This article was originally published by Engine Shed, as part of the Let’s Chat series. 

Women who inspire us: The value of education

As part of International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the great women working on the Temple Quarter programme. In a series of blogs, we’ve asked them to write about the women that inspire them to challenge stereotypes and promote equality

Third in our series, this piece is by Nicola Key, Head of Programme Delivery for Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

Nicola Key making the #EachforEqual sign
Nicola Key making the #EachforEqual sign

Jacqueline Mary Blomfield

Jacqueline Mary Blomfield was born during World War 2. By the age of 14 she had moved repeatedly around the country with her Mother (wherever work could be found) leading to her attend 14 different schools in 9 years. Her education was so disrupted she ended up failing her 11+ compulsory examination which meant that she went on to attend a Secondary Modern School, missing out on a grammar school education. She started full time employment at 14 years old and soon became a Post Office worker at the GPO as a telephony operator. She went on to work at British Telecom for the rest of her working life and became a union representative to fight for workers’ rights.

She vowed that when she had a family she would do everything she could to send her children to University and to enable them to have the education they deserved. Hence she worked every hour imaginable to afford to send all three of her children to University. Her belief was that education opened many doors and allowed people to lead the lives they wanted.

Jacqueline has enabled me to lead the life that I want and to fulfil many ambitions. She was my mother whom I take inspiration from every single day. I can only imagine the smile on her face if she’d known that I’d go on to lead the programme to deliver a new University campus in Bristol, a city that she loved.

Read other blogs in this series for International Women’s Day.

Women who inspire us: changing the face of the music industry

As part of International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the great women working on the Temple Quarter programme. In a series of blogs, we’ve asked them to write about the women that inspire them to challenge stereotypes and promote equality.

Second in the series is this piece by Jessica Sharratt, Engagement and Enterprise Associate for Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

Jessica Sharratt making the #EachForEqual sign
Jessica Sharratt making the #EachForEqual sign

Georgia Maq, Sarah Thompson and Kelly-Dawn Helmrich

Outside of work, I am a musician. Playing trombone since I was 8, I’ve been in many different groups – from orchestras and brass bands to ska punk and rock. The under-representation of women in any genre involving an amplifier is well known. In 2015, posters of music festival line-ups edited to remove all-male bands appeared, highlighting how few women were being booked. Despite increasing awareness of the issue, it’s still a problem – of the 92 acts announced so far for Reading and Leeds this year, just 20 are women.

This affects how women in music are treated. Even in my limited experience, I’ve come across the assumption that rock musicians are men more times than I can count. Once, sat with my instrument in a well-known Bristol venue, a very polite member of staff came over to inform me only band members were allowed in before doors opened and that girlfriends would have to wait outside. Another time, laden with equipment, a member of door staff stopped me and my bandmate Tash on our way into a venue. Our male bandmates had all been allowed to walk straight through and we weren’t let in until one of them came back to vouch for us. There are also the times I’ve been patronised or objectified on account of my gender – each incident on its own perhaps insignificant but amounting to something bigger.

Camp cope band members
Camp Cope. Image creator: Gabriela Barbieri, Credit: WXPN

Three women determined to hold the music industry to account are Georgia Maq, Sarah Thompson and Kelly-Dawn Helmrich of Camp Cope – a three-piece alternative rock band from Melbourne. Since forming in 2015 they’ve made their voices heard as artists and as advocates for women and minorities. Georgia Maq sings about her own experience of sexual assault in ‘The Face of God’, and ‘The Opener’ is a furious takedown of sexism in the music industry. In 2016 they led a campaign focused on making festivals safer called ‘It Takes One’, developing new reporting mechanisms that better support victims. Many artists have since been seen wearing T-shirts that read ‘The person wearing this shirt stands against sexual assault and demands a change’ in support. In 2017 they risked their careers publicly criticising the Falls Festival for only booking nine women, including themselves. The festival is not only Australia’s largest touring festival but is owned by Live Nation, the largest promotor in the world. Camp Cope hasn’t shied away from fighting sexism wherever it sees it, even when it poses a risk to their own careers.

Camp Cope’s lyrics often hold a mirror to female experiences that are almost universal, but rarely acknowledged. In ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ they rail against catcallers and mention carrying ‘keys between your knuckles when you walk alone at night’. Fellow Australian Courtney Barnett also references this in ‘Nameless, Faceless’. Before these two songs, I’d never heard this self-defence tactic discussed – it was just something my Mum told me to do when was about 14 and has made me feel slightly safer many times since. The first time I heard these lyrics I was simultaneously saddened that this is so common and relieved to hear it acknowledged. I’ve had conversations with male friends who said they weren’t aware this was something women did until they heard these songs. We learn more when we hear from people whose experiences are not the same as our own. The focus here is on International Women’s Day, but we would equally benefit from hearing from more musicians who are non-binary, people of colour, LGBTQ+ and working class.

Like all good role models, Camp Cope makes me reconsider my own behaviour. I’ve spent plenty of time swapping war stories with other musicians but can’t claim to have done much to try and change things. This is a band that’s determined to make the music industry safer, diverse and more inclusive. They also write great songs – check them out, and I’ll see you at their next Bristol show!

Read other blogs in this series for International Women’s Day.

Women who inspire us: a fighter, teacher and explorer

As part of International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the great women working on the Temple Quarter programme. In a series of blogs, we’ve asked them to write about the women that inspire them to challenge stereotypes and promote equality.

This first piece is by Gemma Stock, Operations Manager for Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

Gemma Stock making an equals sign with her arms
Gemma Stock making the #EachforEqual sign

Edwina Whitwell: a fighter for children’s rights to education, explorer and champion of resilience

The eldest of four girls, Edwina Whitwell (nee Enefer) was born in 1952. Labelled as a daydreamer at school, she married at the age of 18 – as was the expectation of the time – and worked a variety of administrative roles until she left to start a family. Despite the lack of encouragement or support from her (somewhat Victorian) husband, she returned to education in her mid-30s and became a teacher at the age of 42 after completing her GCSEs, A Levels and degree. To support her husband’s salary and to ensure her children wanted for nothing, Edwina worked on weekends and in holidays during her return to education – she also opened her family home to exchange students.

Despite her late arrival to the world of education, Edwina has left an extraordinary mark on children’s lives in the North Somerset area. She worked tirelessly to ensure children with special needs were treated as individuals and received the education they were entitled. She took the time needed to explain a child’s requirements to their parents. She listened to family’s frustrations with the situation and with the “system”. She fought local government for money to ensure a deaf boy went to the right school. She supported parents on applications to make sure their children got into the right educational establishments. She fought to keep kids in school when they would otherwise have been excluded.

Ignoring protests from her husband, Edwina started to travel… alone! She trekked mountains in Romania, walking for part of the time with horrendous food poisoning. In an attempt to avoid further upset, she did a real-life Shirley Valentine. Edwina left a note on the fridge for her husband and flew to Kathmandu to trek the foothills of the Himalayas, where she admitted she thought she’d die when cowering under a piece of Perspex while “hail the size of bricks” fell.

Edwina Whitwell camping in the desert in Oman
Edwina Whitwell camping in the desert in Oman

Since losing her husband who – despite his shortcomings as a forward-thinking husband – was the love of her life, Edwina has travelled extensively. She’s visited America, Oman, Egypt, India, Jordan, Thailand (where she fell off a barge and almost drowned in the River Kwai), Vietnam, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, Morocco, Egypt, Europe and Rwanda where she taught English to children. And in two weeks’ time, she will travel to Antarctica.

Now retired, Edwina’s investment in children’s future is not yet over – she teaches life-skills to year 6 students in the Bristol area on a voluntary basis.

She is the epitome of resilience. Every time she was knocked down or someone said she couldn’t do something, she looked them straight in the eye and did it anyway. She instils this trait in her children, her students and her granddaughters. Edwina is a massive inspiration to women. I know this because she’s my mum and I want to be like her. My friends (who are all in their 40s) and my young nieces all want to be like her – but as hard as we try, I don’t think any of us will ever reach her level of awesomeness!

Read other blogs in this series for International Women’s Day.

More than a building

By Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for New Campus Development

In May I wrote about the experience of seeing the sun rise from Platform 15 at Temple Meads for the first time since the 1920s, following the demolition of the former Royal Mail Sorting Office. This week the University of Bristol has published new plans for that site.

Importantly, alongside two major buildings, these include major public spaces leading to a new Eastern entrance to Temple Meads planned by Network Rail. That entrance will be under the selfsame Platform 15, on the level of both the site and the thoroughfare running under the platforms.

The planned site has plentiful seating and is greened by trees sheltering those walking and cycling across it. The harbourside frontage is envisaged as having many more trees to create a green corridor linking the existing Totterdown basin waterside and neighbouring spaces. The sustainability ambitions of the University are manifested in a building that provides its own energy and links to the city’s district heat network – all while harvesting rainwater and solar energy across its roof.

The designs portray what a day in the life of the new campus at Temple Quarter might look like – from the dawn light through the glazed panels of the interior gardens to the twilight images of the public space passing under and through the main building. This reminds us that this is a part of the city that could and should be lively and used out of hours.

While the consultation is about the physical redevelopment of a site that has lain derelict for a generation, the bigger story is how the city, its enterprises and communities and the University can work together there to develop their futures for the better.

As I write this column, I am attending a conference debating the value of universities to the cities, regions and society they are in. It is a debate that reveals a range of great work going on in cities around the world. There is strong recognition in the room of the merit of engaging with the people and organisations in a place and to do so with respect, to create mutual and sustained benefit. Some at the conference referred to the value created by student and staff volunteering, others to the opportunities created by positive recruitment, living wage and responsible procurement policies – all things we do here in Bristol. In discussions, we sought to define how universities could learn from and discover with their civic partners and be fair, respectful and relevant in so doing. The new campus building offers venues such as the Story Exchange and the Bristol Rooms just for these cooperative activities.

In this consultation with our city, we want to hear what you think of our development plans. We will want to sustain the dialogue over the years to come, because we will not only develop the site, but be there to live, work, play and learn with and for our city over the decades to come.

You can see our plans, share your view and find more details about our consultation events here.

Student, Chelsie Bailey, on the rich heritage of the Old Bristol Cattle Market

As a History student at the University of Bristol I’ve had the privilege of looking into the heritage of the University’s new Enterprise campus and the history of the old Bristol Cattle Market, operating from 1830 until the 1960s. I’ve discovered a rich and extensive body of archival material, both locally in Bristol, and nationally and I was really excited to be part of the film celebrating the history of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

I looked at changes in both legislation and public opinion around cattle markets in the nineteenth century, spurred by protests against the treatment of animals at Smithfield market in London. Working with members of the History and Veterinary departments at the University, an interdisciplinary approach has helped to uncover fascinating details of the experience of animals in the market and their treatment on journeys to and from the Temple Meads site.

Bristol Cattle Market initially held market day on Thursdays, with an additional opening on Mondays added later due to high demand. With numbers in the thousands at full capacity, the market held a range of livestock, including cows, calves, sheep, pigs and horses. The establishment of the Great Western Railway station at Temple Meads in 1840 increased the ease of access to the market, both for consumers and animals. Cattle travelled to the market on foot from local farms, by rail from the surrounding areas, and by boat from Ireland and Canada. The journey by boat in particular was reported to have been long and strenuous for the animals, with the minimum amount of food, water and physical space provided in efforts to keep costs low.

Bristol Cattle Market was nevertheless seen by many as the model of good practice in animal welfare, particularly in comparison to Smithfield. In Bristol, drovers – who walked the animals into the city – did not use the sharpened sticks commonly known as ‘goads’ to herd the cows. The location of the Market itself also ensured that the pens were of regulation size and there was less overcrowding in Bristol than at other major city markets, especially Smithfield. However the extent of animal welfare provision in the market should not be exaggerated. Butchers’ reports noted bruising and cuts on slaughtered animals, and a number of contemporaries observed unnecessary cruelty to cattle on the part of the drovers. One resident of St Phillip’s Marsh recalled her terror of market day as a child:

It was terrifying to hear the herdsmen shouting and hitting those maddened cows, and the Bulls had rings through their noses with men pulling them along on huge ropes. Blood would be running down from their faces where the rings had cut into their nostrils. Sometimes men would put a sack over the Bulls heads to quieten them down. Once a Bull put his backside against my Aunties front door and broke it down, and then one of the cows ran into the house.
Source: St Philips Marsh, The Story of an Island and its People, BRO Pamphlet/2054. P39

Through the nineteenth century, public awareness of animal cruelty was on the increase , exemplified by the establishment of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now the RSPCA) in 1824. The Bristol branch of the society was established in 1842, and funded regular inspections of the market, increasing the number of cruelty cases brought to court. Contemporary newspapers frequently reported the details of such cases, with cases commonly involving the binding of calves mouths with twine, which became ‘quite sunk into the flesh’, to prevent the calves from suckling and the exposure of diseased animals in the market.
Source: The Bristol Daily Post, Monday February 11 1861

The Market allowed the city to grow, putting Bristol on the map as having a good market for space for the animals and closeness to a train line. The significance of the market, and it’s long history, should be reflected in the new development of the University to commemorate the lives of the people and animals who dedicated their lives to it. We hope the essence of the market can be understood for the importance it held for Bristol, and for feeding all those who benefited from it. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, and would like to thank the Brigstow Institute and the Temple Quarter group for their help and support. I hope you enjoy this film about our project and the history of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

Professor Guy Orpen on the civic university

The University of Bristol has its roots firmly planted in the city from its formation as a civic university. When University College Bristol opened in 1876, in rented premises on Park Row, it had two professors and five lecturers offering courses in 15 subjects – with local people as students, many of them studying at night.

Drawing on a local history of education in medicine and engineering the University itself was formed in 1909 with the support of the City Council and individual citizens alike.

And it was always innovative – the University was the first higher education institution in England to admit women on an equal basis to men.

Over the past century the relationship between the city and its University has waxed and waned, but the last decade has seen a strengthening relationship as the mutual benefits to be gained have become strikingly obvious.

Bristol is a wonderful city in which to live, work and study, and for its citizens there is much to be gained from having one of the world’s top 100 universities at its heart. That said, for much of the past century neither the University or the city has actively sought to build on that mutual benefit.

This dynamic changed after the 2008 financial crash. The world now needs much closer partnership between cities, their communities and their anchor institutions, universities included, across the public, third and private sectors.

Now is the time to reimagine our University as one of the world’s great civic universities

We welcome the opportunity to build on the education and research that is our core mission by actively partnering with the health, educational, cultural, industrial, community and governmental organisations in our city-region.

We have been following this path for a decade and more. We were founder members of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Bristol Health Partners, the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and the Learning City Partnership – to name but a few. The University played a key role in launching the Science Park by basing the National Composites Centre we own and operate there as its anchor tenant. Likewise, the University runs the Engine Shed and the global number one SETsquared Centre at Temple Meads.

Our role is clear – we can and should work with others to change the city for the better – to create jobs, cultural, social and learning opportunities. So, what next?

The city faces great challenges in building on success in challenging times, while bridging its divisions and sharing opportunities more fairly. Similarly, the University is under tremendous competitive pressure to be able to deliver public good while public funding is on the retreat.

The good news is that we can rise to these challenges together. The Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus is the most visible of these opportunities. Its development is gathering pace, and the prospect of us having a campus that is for open collaboration with business, third sector partners and communities of the city has attracted great interest.

Research and innovation on the campus will co-create solutions to the challenges faced by society in Bristol and around the world – in the face of climate change, technology and demographic shifts – and bring out the talent that we need to deliver those solutions in practice.

To succeed, co-creation will require us to learn from, and partner with, our wonderful city and learn from the expertise of its diverse and challenging communities, businesses and organisations.

We invite you to join us on this journey – help us to reimagine how the University and city can work together to meet the challenges we face over the century ahead.



Meet the team – our new head of programme delivery

Nicola Key is the Head of Programme delivery for the Temple Quarter Campus taking over the reins from Neil Bradshaw. She oversees the whole range of activities that are required to design, build and operate the new campus. We caught up with Nicola to see what attracted her to working for Temple Quarter and what she thinks of the project and the wider university.

I was excited to work for the Temple Quarter Programme as I really enjoy roles where I can create a large impact on society. I see the campus as vital for the ongoing expansion of the University. I’ve lived in Bristol since 1996 and have seen significant levels of urban regeneration within the city centre over the last 20 years. I’ve always been mystified as to why the area around Temple Meads station contains so many derelict buildings and looks so shabby. When I found out about the new campus project I was thrilled that finally the arrival at Temple Meads station would be revitalised.

Being new to the university, my view is that it’s thought of within Bristol as a bit of an ivory tower. There are some incredible people here from over the world as well as lots of inspiring people from the UK. The buildings are not particularly accessible and are generally considered closed to the people of Bristol. I see Temple Quarter changing that, it’s going to be much more of an open site, more collaborative and will involve many more organisations and people from around the city. The campus will allow more people to visit, members of the public will be able to visit socially and for training. It will be a step change in the way that the university has been seen to be operating and takes it back to its original roots where it once set out to be a civic university. I think it has lost some of that along the way and so the new campus will really help us to create an environment where we have open doors to a wider audience.

The space inside the buildings will be about collaboration and knowledge sharing between different groups of people, between students on different courses across different schools and faculties or between businesses and community organisations. This will mean a change in the way that we teach. Students will have the opportunity to sit on projects working alongside businesses throughout their academic course rather than having to spend a year away, so it will provide a much more integrated and enriching study experience for our students.  Having been a student on a thin sandwich business studies course in the 1980’s, I spent term time both in and out of the university, however the experience in the business was completely disconnected from the learning. The Temple Quarter Campus is a great opportunity to integrate project work with learning and it’s a completely different approach that I can see will be a huge benefit to our students.

We are keen to collaborate with people from across different areas of the university to get some ideas about how we want the campus to work so please do get in touch with the team if you would like to be a part of this exciting new project.

I started at the university in July 2018 and my favourite thing about working her so far has been the people. I have been welcomed with open arms and had a fantastic reception, it’s been amazing.