In South West England, a city affectionately known as ‘the largest village in the UK’ is rapidly becoming a hotbed for new startups across the board. With tech hubs likened to Silicon Valley, niche food markets, a fashion culture, and an unrelenting thirst for creativity, Bristol is quite visibly becoming a centre for progress in the South West.
But why? What’s so special about Bristol? Why the big boost in startup culture? Bristol has many unique characteristics, many of which have helped make it the recent winner of the ‘Best UK City’ title. Two major universities, well known corporations, a new financial district, multiple ‘centres of creativity’ and local figureheads championing new business make the city a catalyst for innovation, collaboration and success!
As a self-starter myself, with currently four startups under my belt (yes four, I know I’m probably mental), I have been involved in the city’s startup environment for the past 4/5 years, at both ends of the scale - as a naive but cocky upstart, and as a well-learned mentor (with still so much more to learn).
The increase in delivered support over that arguably short period though, has been clear to see. Whether that’s because there is genuinely more support available or whether that’s because what support there is, is now advertised more effectively, remains to be seen; but either way it’s apparent that many people are now gaining access to the services they need to ensure their ventures not only stay afloat, but succeed within our city.
Bristol is well known for being the home of areas and families of ‘old money’ status which has been our legacy for many years now - since the times of traders, no doubt. It’s this, combined with the sheer love that the residents of Bristol have for their home, that keeps the ecosystem sustained locally. In the past year or so, we’ve even launched the Bristol Pound - our own internal currency that promotes the use of Bristol based businesses to keep the economy here and promote home-grown ventures.
The combination of this loving approach and the recession is arguably changing the mindset of the self-starter within Bristol. The thought of “there are no opportunities any more” combined with “what have I got to lose” and the long standing innovative thought that Bristol is forever nurturing, has bred new enthusiasm into residents, young and old, and made them take the step of self employment which, before, may have been considered too much of a risk.
Awareness of local success has raised a lot over the past years, largely due to the effects of social media. Bristol’s creative mindset has never been more visible and thanks to key characters leading the way, both in person and digitally, we’ve been able to channel this into tangible actions, events and solutions.
Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, is one of those characters. With an entrepreneurial background and a highly visible presence amongst Bristol businesses, the promotion of movements like the Bristol pound and clear backing of recent events such as the “Bristol Slide’ it’s clear to see that he’s leading the way in making our city a great place to live and a place to try out new things.