Launch Space at UWE Bristol attracts 23 graduates start-ups after just six months

Launch Space, a high-tech business incubator for graduates based at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), has attracted 23 residents since launching in June 2017.

Based in the £16m University Enterprise Zone, Launch Space provides recent graduates from across the UK with free desk space for one year, innovation support and access to UWE Bristol researchers and facilities.

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement, said, “Launch Space is already becoming a vibrant and inspiring community of hi-tech entrepreneurs. The University is a key innovation hub in the West of England and we are delighted to announce that each business at Launch Space has recently been given the chance to apply for a grant of up to £6,000 to help with research and development.”

launch-space-residents-workingCurrent projects based at Launch Space include Tegru, a company developing a face mask for cyclists that includes built-in filter technology designed to reduce intake of harmful particles.

The incubator is also home to Bio Loop, a venture working on a system to convert waste milk into electricity. Run by a graduate from UWE Bristol’s Team Entrepreneurship degree, Bio Loop is working with a dairy company to help process waste milk using microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology to produce electricity. Bio Loop is collaborating with experts on development of a system using MFC technology developed at Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL)*.”

Another start-up is building an app called ‘Bunk’ that acts as an intermediary between landlords and tenants with the aim of improving the rental experience. Bunk will be powered by Blockchain technology, originally designed for the bitcoin digital currency, which allows digital information to be distributed but not copied and removes the need for a middleman in financial transactions. The model moves away from the current cash-heavy deposit system and allows customers to take out a monthly payment plan with an insurance company instead.

Launch Space has also attracted GigaTech, a company designing a configurable MIDI controller for music makers, Seatox, a business making beauty products out of seaweed, and Bonnie Binary, an enterprise developing a ‘soft’ games controller partly made out of textiles.

“For these graduate start-ups, working from this space is an enriching experience, given the flurry of activity around,” said Launch Space Incubation Manager Kim Brookes. “It is also important for the region, because the minute you give opportunity for innovation and creativity to thrive together, you could be creating a new industry, and this promotes the innovation economy”.

Launch Space forms part of a larger UWE Bristol innovation support programme that is receiving up to £2 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Located alongside the Future Space technology incubation centre and the BRL, residents benefit from co-location with other innovative enterprises.

Those wishing to apply for a place at the incubator can do so here. Applicants are required to have a UK based business located or operating in the West of England (Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, and North Somerset. The Launch Space team is on hand to help pre-start enterprise with the process of registered their business.


Plants grown from seeds that orbited earth to go on show at national event

Tomato and rocket plants grown at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) from seeds that were taken into space in a rocket and orbited the earth, are to feature as part of a research event in London in January 2018 that will bring together leading experts on radiation.

The event in Westminster from 15-17 January 2018, will display findings from a national consortium involved in the UK-wide £5.6m Radioactivity and The Environment (RATE) project. Its aim is to determine how best to safeguard human health from releases of radioactivity from nuclear power plants or nuclear waste repositories.

UWE Bristol is part of the TREE consortium, which won the THE Research Project of the year award in 2016, and will display the plants grown from the seeds as part of its exhibit.

UWE Bristol’s Envirotron greenhouse where some of the plant research takes place

The rocket seeds were sent up with astronauts in a Soyuz space rocket as part of a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Royal Horticultural Society. They were kept in the International Space Station where British astronaut Tim Peake monitored them for six months. During that time, the seeds were exposed to radiation from cosmic rays that exist in space.

After they were returned to earth in June 2016, UWE Bristol PhD student Nicol Caplin from the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences conducted experiments on the rocket seeds. The objective is to determine the effects of radiation on plant development and whether the seeds ‘remember’ their time orbiting earth and therefore change their growth in response to stressful conditions.

After planting the rocket seeds in early 2017, the University also acquired some tomato seeds in November 2017 that had been taken up to space by the Canadian Space Agency.

Findings from the UWE Bristol tests on both sets of seeds are expected to be revealed in spring 2018.

Professor Neil Willey, who is overseeing the project, said, “The dose of radiation the seeds were exposed to in space is eqivalent to the levels found in some parts of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. As part of our overall research on how radiation affects plants, we wanted to test the seeds in a controlled environment.”

Professor Willey, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of radiation on plants, is one of many researchers involved in the RATE project. “The building of a new generation of nuclear power stations, and the fact that the UK does not have a permanent nuclear waste repository led to this project,” said Professor Willey.

RATE involves three consortia, each examining different parts of the environment such as rocks, sediments and wildlife, which could be affected by increased radiation levels. UWE Bristol researchers are focusing their work on plant species, and have grown plants in the laboratory after applying the same levels of radiation as in Chernobyl. “The problem with a lot of data from Chernobyl is that scientists take individual plant samples and make measurements, but they have no idea what happens to them over several generations under controlled conditions. So we have applied Chernobyl levels of radiation over multiple generations of plants and followed what has happened,” said Professor Willey.

Based on their research, Professor Willey said he and colleagues believe that current reference levels of radiation stipulated by the regulator, in other words the amount of exposure there needs to be before the environmental regulator has to start investigating, do not need to be modified.

The London event for goverment, regulators and industry is organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

UWE Bristol Fellowship to combine traditional printing with cutting-edge technology

A T-shirt print capable of warning its wearer when dangerous chemicals are in the air, and pharmaceutical packaging with ink signifying when pills are counterfeit are just two ideas likely to emerge from a new research project involving the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and a leading scientist and print industry expert.

Starting in January 2018 at UWE Bristol’s Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), a five-year £1.5m project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) will combine elements from 19th century reprographic methods used in security printing with modern day techniques. This is set to give rise to a new design of print head for commercial printers, development of the next generation of inks with distinctive properties and new ways of printing.

The Manufacturing Fellowship grant from EPSRC has been awarded to Dr Susanne Klein, making her the first woman to receive it since its launch in 2012. Dr Klein is a renowned expert in the fields of physics and material science and previously held a senior research position at Hewlett Packard. For the research, Dr Klein will set up a laboratory in and collaborate with the CFPR.

Susanne_KleinThe research will combine the CFPR’s knowledge of traditional photomechanical printing methods, such as Lippmann and Woodbury, and re-adapt the techniques for use on a 2.5D printer, which creates texture as part of an image on a substrate.

Using her expertise in colloidal chemistry (working with particles suspended in a solution), and liquid crystals, Klein will also develop specialist inks that can change colour in certain environments.

Such properties could mean a T-shirt print might be able to detect chemicals in the environment that have a proven link to cardiovascular disease, and change colour to warn the wearer. Similar ink on the garment could also react to heat and change colour when the wearer has spent a long time in the sun.

Smart inks could also help manufacturers trace a product as it passes through the supply chain, or curb counterfeiting.

Dr Klein said, “There are lots of problems with counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and sometimes products are found to be counterfeited where the packaging is identical to the original. We will produce packaging with printing ink that will change colour every time it passes through and is authorised at a different stage on its way to the customer.

“Another application could be in the case of food that needs to remain cold in its packaging. The technology could lead to labels that react to heat, switch to another colour if they have warmed and stay that colour.”

The UWE Bristol research is likely to impact the printing industry, although this is not a change that will happen immediately, said Klein: “The printing landscape is changing and I think our research will contribute to that, but the industry is traditional with its own way of doing things, and no big printer will make any radical changes. Our plan is to feed in little advances, bit by bit, so that commercial printers can adapt slowly to new technologies.”

The funding will provide £300,000 per year for five years to the University and Klein will set up a team comprising a post-doctorate student and a technician to work with the CFPR to develop this new printing approach.

Professor Carinna Parraman, Director of the CFPR said, “We are honoured to receive this grant, in a context that is unprecedented nationally in an art school environment. This is a unique opportunity to pair an experienced material scientist, coming into academia with industrial and manufacturing process knowledge and skills, with the CFPR’s expertise in photomechanical processes invented in the 19th century.”

Glow: how reflective packaging could help pedestrian visibility on unlit roads

GlowDeborah Smith was on her degree placement in Africa when she had the idea for a product that might help people walking on rural roads at night to be more visible to drivers.

Her degree at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in Geography and Environmental Management gave her the chance to go to Swaziland for four weeks. There she measured pollution levels in the Komati river to assess a possible link to nearby sugar cane plantations.

But it was when Smith drove home after sunset that she noticed how difficult it was to see pedestrians on narrow, unlit roads. “At the end of every day we tried to get home before dark because you couldn’t see cattle or pedestrians,” she recalls. Later, during a trip to South Africa, the car she was travelling in almost ran over two pedestrians wearing black clothing who were walking on a road with no lighting.

Smith knew that reflectors could make a difference to pedestrian safety. “I wanted people to access more visible materials, but knew that selling reflectors in local shops wouldn’t work, as the little money people have, they spend on food,” says the entrepreneur. She therefore came up with the idea of incorporating reflective material into the packaging of everyday consumer goods, such as bread or tea.

After returning to UWE Bristol, Smith pitched her idea at Pitch and Pie, a yearly University-run event for students to pitch a business idea to an audience. “This served as a springboard because afterwards I was encouraged to take part in the University’s eight-week self-employed summer internship,” she says.

The internship provides students with £1000 to try out an idea for a project or business. After gaining a place on the scheme, Smith was given access to free desk space at the University,  where she researched how to progress her idea commercially.

A mentor provided through the scheme advised her on how best to apply for funding and how to pitch to corporations like Unilever or Coca-Cola. The adviser also provided her with contacts, including a health professional with expertise on road safety.

Later, Smith presented her project – which she named ‘GLOW’ – during one of the University’s Bristol Distinguished Address Series (BDAS) talks. These lectures feature industry leaders talking about topical subjects. Smith’s presentation before the main talk, gave her the opportunity to present to students, staff and local businesses, and receive invaluable feedback.

Smith says her participation in the University’s various enterprise activities has taught her how better to network, the importance of using social media in business, and allowed her to push herself outside of her comfort zone. “I don’t think this idea would have gone any further than my head if it hadn’t been for UWE,” she says. “The biggest thing I learned was not to give up, and to look at different aspects to approaching a problem,” adds Smith.

As well as pursuing her business idea, the mother of two has gone on to study for a Masters in Environmental Health at UWE Bristol. She is also involved in BoxED, a UWE Bristol scheme involving postgraduates who go into schools to inspire and advise on the possibilities of higher education, and to help pupils map out their potential career paths.

UK’s complex tax code and complacency  leads to more tax avoidance – UWE Professor

UK’s complex tax code and complacency leads to more tax avoidance – UWE Professor

Nicholas Ryder, who is a Professor in Financial Crime at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) says the UK authorities’ ‘lacklustre’ approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions, and a highly complex tax code, has played a significant role in enabling individuals to avoid or evade tax.  Tax evasion expert Sam Bourton (who is an Associate Lecturer in Law at UWE Bristol), agrees that such complexity means a lot of money is siphoned from the City of London.

Once again documents revealing the tax activities of some of the rich and powerful have come to light in the media, after a whistleblower leaked 6.8m documents relating to Appleby, a firm that helps companies set up shop in low-tax jurisdictions. These ‘Paradise Papers’ (so-called because many tax havens are located on paradise-like islands) have led to a media storm, decrying the likes of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Apple because of their links to tax avoidance schemes through the firm. Tax avoidance involves by-passing payment of tax legally using loopholes to your advantage, while tax evasion means illegally evading paying tax.

“These schemes might not be a criminal offence per se,” says Ryder, “but ethically speaking, is it right for a multibillion pound company to be avoiding tax, when that money could go to funding a new hospital or a school?”

Ryder explains that a lot of jurisdictions, including the UK, have a flexible taxation system, as this can lead to more investment. It also possesses a highly complex tax code, which is one of the longest in the world. “You could argue that tax avoidance has been indirectly encouraged by government because it has such a complex legal framework that allows people to use loopholes,” says Ryder. “This also means that it’s often difficult to identify whether a business transaction constitutes tax avoidance or tax evasion,” he adds.

Bourton agrees, saying that there is often a connection between many of UK’s overseas territories (like the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands) and London, and this benefits the City. “Often tax advisers set up structures offshore that interact with accounts in London,” says Bourton. She points out that, looking at the data from the Paradise Papers, the UK features towards the top of the list when you look at individuals and companies implicated in tax avoidance.

Both Bourton and Ryder agree that more transparency in tax transactions is needed. “I am concerned about the secrecy that still exists around these tax cases,” says Ryder, commenting on the Paradise Papers. “How do we know that organised criminal gangs are not using these offshore financial centres to hide their proceeds of crime? If they are doing this, they are in effect money laundering, and that’s where they could be prosecuted,” he adds. In this respect, he believes that the UK adopts what he calls a “lacklustre” approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has drawn up and is still developing a set of guidelines to ensure transparency and exchange of information where tax is involved.  But although most jurisdictions have signed up to the OECD standards, implementing them is likely to take several years to complete.

Dunissa: how two psychology students’ food stall helped them prepare for the world of business

Dunya Elbouni and Melissa Sargeant share a love of cooking and baking. While studying for a degree in psychology at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) they often compared recipes, posting their meals on Instagram and blogging about food, with a dream of one day running their own food-related business.

They never imagined the extent to which the University could support them in setting up such a business enterprise, especially as they were not on a business course.  They were therefore pleasantly surprised to find out about UWE Bristol’s £20 challenge.

The scheme involves the University lending would-be entrepreneurs from any faculty £20 to set up a business with the challenge of generating as much income as possible in a week. Participants can keep any profit they make, with a prize awarded to the most innovative team. Melissa and Dunya took part, setting up a sushi and cupcake stall on the Frenchay campus. Working just two hours a day for four days, the pair made £400 profit and came second in the competition.

DUnissaFollowing their success selling food on campus, Dunya and Melissa were encouraged to apply for the University’s Innovate Internship. This offers budding entrepreneurs with support to set up and run a business venture. Successful candidates are given £1000, provided with desk space (if required), and allocated a mentor who helps them set and achieve goals.

The pair pitched their idea of setting up a food stall at St Nicholas’ Market, based in Bristol’s city centre, as they saw an opportunity to sell fusion Middle Eastern and Malaysian cuisine. Gaining a place on the programme, they used the money to buy cooking and serving equipment, produce flyers, rent the space for a pop-up stall and, of course, to buy the ingredients.

Calling their business ‘Dunissa,’ a contraction of both their names, they served an array of food and drink over a six-week period in the summer. Their fare included halloumi fries, Tabbouleh and meals such as Beef Rendang (a spicy meat dish).

“We definitely learned how hard it is to run a business and it wasn’t as easy as we initially thought,” says Dunya. “I learned a lot about time management, teamwork and the importance of networking and learning from other traders,” she adds. Their allocated mentor had previous experience working with market stall holders. “He taught us about retailers, how to track our business and helped us with the marketing side,” says Melissa. “Most of all, he acted as a sounding board, and helped us with teething problems, given that he had previously encountered some of the issues we came up against,” she adds.

The market stall was a huge success, and running their own business gave them confidence when it came to applying for jobs after graduating in 2017. Melissa subsequently got a job in PepsiCo’s marketing department. “Going into the interview and being able to say that, at such a young age, I had worked as an entrepreneur who handled buying, selling, marketing, and made a profit, gave me the edge,” says Melissa. “Even now when I mention it in the company, it’s very different to what some of the other graduates have done,” she adds.

Dunya, meanwhile, landed a job at Screwfix head office, also working in its marketing department. “A lot of the interest I have for business came from that internship and running our food stall,” says Dunya. “It took us out of our psychology [course] and more into the business field,” she adds.

As well as offering a Team Entrepreneurship business degree course, UWE Bristol actively encourages and supports students wishing to set up business ventures as part of, or alongside their studies. To find out more about these opportunities, click here.

Commuting has Multiple Impacts on Employee Wellbeing

Blog originally posted on 

A study of Commuting and Wellbeing undertaken by Dr Kiron Chatterjee and Dr Ben Clark of the Centre for Transport & Society at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) shows how different modes of transport for commuting affect our wellbeing.   

Many of us spend longer commuting to work than we would like and find our journeys stressful, but how detrimental is commuting to our wellbeing?

The journey to and from work is a routine activity undertaken on about 160 days of the year by those who are full-time employed in England. The average one-way commute time is 30 minutes, hence commuting consumes about one hour per day for the average commuter. However, one in seven travellers has a commute time of one hour or more, spending at least two hours per day going to and from work.

lyon-cycle-laneThe impact of this travelling on our wellbeing has been studied before, but results have been inconclusive and we do not have a complete picture of how commuting affects different aspects of wellbeing.

Chatterjee and Clark’s study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), took advantage of Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which tracks the lives of a large, representative sample of households in England. The data set allowed them to examine how changes in different aspects of wellbeing from one year to the next were related to changing commuting circumstances for more than 26,000 workers in England over a five-year period.

As set out in their summary report, they found that, all else being equal, every extra minute of commuting time reduces job satisfaction, reduces leisure time satisfaction, increases strain in people’s lives and worsens mental health.

Job satisfaction (as measured on a 7-point scale) declines with commute time (the exception being the small proportion of workers with extreme commutes of over 90 minutes each way)

The effects of commuting on employee wellbeing were found to vary depending on the mode of transport used to get to work:

  1. Those who walk or cycle to work do not report reductions in leisure time satisfaction in the same way as other commuters, even with the same duration of commute. Presumably, active commuting is seen as a beneficial use of time.
  2. Bus commuters feel the negative impacts of longer journey times more strongly than users of other modes of transport. This could relate to the complexity of longer journeys by bus.
  3. Meanwhile, longer duration commutes by rail are associated with less strain than shorter commutes by rail. The researchers believe this is explained by those on longer train journeys being more likely to get a seat and to have comfortable conditions to relax or even to work.
  4. Those who work from home are found to have higher job satisfaction and leisure time satisfaction, but working from home is clearly not possible for everyone on a daily basis.

Their findings have particularly important implications for employers.  An additional 20 minutes of commuting each day was found (on average) to have the equivalent effect on job satisfaction as a 19% reduction in income – this is a loss of £4,080 per annum for someone earning £21,600 (the median value for our sample).  They found a gender difference for this result with longer commute times having a more negative impact on women’s job satisfaction than men’s. This is likely to be related to the greater household and family responsibilities that women tend to have. They also found that employees with longer commute times are more likely to change job, and this has implications for employee retention.

The overall message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved if workers have opportunities to reduce their time spent commuting, to work from home, and/or to walk or cycle to work – such commuting opportunities are likely to be good news for employee wellbeing and retention and hence reduce costs to businesses.

Whilst Chatterjee and Clark found that longer commute times have adverse wellbeing effects for job satisfaction, and even more markedly for leisure time satisfaction, they were not found to have a large impact on life satisfaction overall. Their analysis showed that this is because longer commute times are taken on for jobs which provide higher salaries and other benefits which serve to increase life satisfaction.

This does not mean that the negative wellbeing impacts of longer commutes can be disregarded. It is important to recognise the negative impacts on job satisfaction, leisure time satisfaction and mental health. People are only likely to continue to accept that a long commute is a price to pay if it is unavoidable and a social norm.

The Commuting & Wellbeing study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Grant Number ES/N012429/1). The project was led by Dr Kiron Chatterjee at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and ran for eighteen months from February 2016 to July 2017. A summary report from the study is available at

How to prepare for flooding: a guide

flood1This year has seen gargantuan hurricanes roaring across the Caribbean, with storms also making landfall in the UK, which can increase instances of flooding. Experts from organisations like the Met Office and the Environment Agency tell us that global warming will most likely lead to the UK experiencing increased flooding in the years to come. But don’t despair: there is help and advice at hand and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience is a hive of information. 

Dr Jessica Lamond is Associate Professor in flood risk management and works within the research centre. Below are some of her tips on how best to prepare for inundation in the UK, as well as ideas on how to mitigate the impact of water if it enters our homes:

– When renting or buying a house, visit the Environment Agency’s (EA) website to check if the property is in a flood plain. The EA provides maps showing zones susceptible to flooding. However, view these with caution as they are still somewhat imprecise, and a house that sits in a high risk zone can still be at very low risk of flooding due to its elevation. Another source of information is Know Your Flood Risk.

– Make sure you take out building and household insurance. Most policies in the UK include flood damage, but check with your insurer to be sure that this is included in the policy.

– If you receive a flood warning in your area, put in place a plan of action in advance i.e. work out how you will take the kids to school, how to protect your belongings in your house (i.e. move them upstairs), where to put your car, and where to put your pets etc.

– It sounds obvious, but keep all documents upstairs or, if living in a bungalow, keep a copy of them in another safe place, such as a friend’s home.

– If your home is at risk of flooding or is actually flooded, don’t despair. There is a lot of help out there from organisations such as the National Flood Forum.

– When taking out your next household insurance policy, find out about Flood Re, a flood re-insurance scheme that enables you to keep your premiums down, even if you have already claimed for flood damage.

– Once your home has been flooded, watch out for access to government funding. Sometimes you can access money to help guard your house’s structure against further flooding.

– You can modify your home to make it more flood resilient. Such measures include buying a flood resistant front door that fully seals when closed, smart ventilation bricks (these contain small balls that rise up when in contact with water and seal the air holes), and water-resistant wall coatings on the outside of the house.  There are also ways of protecting the inside of your house.

Of course the above tips are for those susceptible to flooding. However, UWE Bristol’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience also assesses the causes of flooding, some of which are man-made. For more information on how the Centre is addressing this and many other issues around flood risk management, click here.

Enterprise network helps creatives develop ideas into sustainable businesses

Creative entrepreneurs and small companies in the West of England looking to develop their ideas into a sustainable business are invited have the opportunity to join the Network for Creative Enterprise.

This tailored programme of SME support is designed to help creative practitioners access knowledge, expand their network and benefit from invaluable business support to help their venture gain momentum.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England, the scheme is a partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the Watershed. It also incorporates incubation ‘hubs’ operated by Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, and Pervasive Media Studio – all based in Bristol – and The Guild, located in Bath.

ArtfulInnovationExports_shamphat_photography-logo-gradientThese creative hubs offer tailored events, workshops and mentoring for individuals and small enterprises to support their business development from the idea stage through to start-up and on to growth.

“I am delighted that UWE Bristol is working with partners to support entrepreneurs in the creative industries sector through this project and helping to drive innovation and growth,” said Professor Martin Boddy, UWE Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement. “The Cultural Industries across the UK are a very significant and fast-expanding sector, with Bristol a key centre of national and international importance. We will be working hard to help the sector innovate and expand, with a number of further important initiatives already in the pipeline,” he said.

The four creative hubs provide unique opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. While The Factory at Knowle West Media Centre offers facilities such as product design and prototyping services, Spike Island is an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design with opportunities for artists to take up residency. The Guild is a co-working space for start-ups – not just creative – and the Pervasive Media Studio hosts a community of people exploring creative technology as they work in a collaborative studio where they can explore and test out new ideas.

Whichever hub individuals are associated with, they can attend any of the workshops and mentoring sessions that take place across the four locations throughout the year. These sessions cover useful topics such as how to build a brand, writing good design briefs, business models, and mapping business growth.

The Network for Creative Enterprise is delivered by a team of producers. Their role is to spot creative potential, make connections across the region, deliver one-to-one support for the resident businesses and nurture the development of their creative ideas.

Watershed Managing Director Dick Penny said, “Growth in the cultural and creative industries relies on a constant supply of talented people with great ideas, often working freelance. Network for Creative Enterprise will build on the work of the consortium partners to create an innovative networked incubation approach, developing and growing creative micro enterprises which are often the invisible engine of the creative economy.”

The programme runs until June 2019. To apply for one of the residency opportunities, click here.

Network for Creative Enterprise is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England. It will be receiving up to £500,000 of funding from the ERDF, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. Established by the European Union and Managed in the UK by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Pro Bono work: a win-win for students, businesses and society

Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are involved in Pro Bono work as far afield as Kenya and Uganda, the United States, as well as in the UK. Law and business students – both undergraduates and postgraduates – provide all manner of unpaid assistance to businesses, and individuals who have limited access to legal help. This is a win-win for companies, students, and some individuals who have limited access to help. 

“In this day and age, with the lack of governmental help, Universities who can assist are expected to do so,” explains Marcus Keppel-Palmer, who is Associate Head of Department – Pro Bono, and a Law lecturer. “We have a repository of knowledge, expertise, and students who are keen to acquire experience,” he adds. The numerous voluntary activities, which are led and developed by the students themselves, include the following:


Offered to individuals with no legal representation, the Law Court Clinics involve Bar students providing on-the-spot assistance to those with no prior knowledge of court proceedings. For two days a week, the postgraduates provide the service alongside a charity at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre. In the same vein, LIP Service (referring to ‘litigants in person’), which UWE Bristol is a part of, raises awareness for those representing themselves, in advance of their hearing. Undergraduates offer training on what to expect in court, what defendants can and cannot ask/do during proceedings, and how to present a case.

Welfare/ Benefits support

Such volunteering also assists those making disability claims. In collaboration with a number of charities and organisations, student volunteers help individuals with the wording in their claims forms to maximise success in receiving or retaining benefits. Legal advice is also provided if an appeal is required,  following an unsuccessful claim. “If your disability benefits are cut, then you can’t afford a lawyer to challenge that, let alone access legal aid because it’s been cut in this area,” says Keppel-Palmer. This work on appeal claims yields almost 100% successful.

Mentoring and Street Law

With a view to helping school pupils learn more about studying Law, first year students from the Law department provide mentoring at schools and colleges in the Bristol area. Pupils can also attend mock trials held at the Bristol Business School’s court rooms. “This Pro Bono activity provides UWE students with additional skills such as public speaking or team work,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Private clients – Elder Law

Teaming up with charities such as Paul’s Place, undergraduate students from Bristol Business School’s law department offer assistance on matters concerning wills, probate and power of attorney.


The business school’s Business Advice Clinics involves students providing basic one-to-one accountancy, marketing and legal support for graduate start-ups in Launch Space, UWE Bristol’s graduate incubation space. One accountancy and four law firms assist with this activity. “This provides top quality advice to the Launch Space incubators and, for students, networking opportunities with the firms,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Pro Bono business activities also extend to helping musicians get a foothold in the music industry, where legal knowledge carries weight. BMAS is a system of clinics and one-to-ones run by law students who meet with budding musicians and other creatives from all over the world. The free legal service includes advice on publishing deals, contracts etc.


Pro Bono work has also enabled volunteers to work with countries in East Africa. With a focus on Kenya and Uganda, the African Prisons Project encourages prisoners to study Law to understand their legal rights. The service enables inmates to be in a stronger position to challenge their cases.

The Anti Death-Penalty Group is aimed at students interested in crime and criminology. This activity enables them to raise awareness about death row by working with a law firm in Virginia (US), where undergraduates can also attend a five-week summer placement. Some have worked on cases involving Guantanamo Bay. “They often come back transformed after meeting death row inmates,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Community Asset Transfer

Closer to home, postgraduate law students offer free legal assistance in projects involving the takeover of public assets by charities. These are long-running projects and the University usually takes on one a year.


Bristol Business School’s Pro Bono work provides multiple benefits for all involved. “All these activities provide incalculable benefits for students,” says Keppel-Palmer. “Many find themselves more confident and find that they get jobs out of them. There are also massive amounts of good will generated through the work that is done and that makes people feel good in themselves.”