University of Bristol collaboration promises ‘tech for better futures’

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University of Bristol is leading a new collaboration with the biggest names in industry.

By U2B Staff 

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The city of Bristol’s buzzing new Enterprise Zone is getting an exciting new resident, one that promises to change the way the world develops technology and ensure today’s innovation is for tomorrow’s benefit.

The University of Bristol is leading a new collaboration between some of the biggest names in the commercial world, fronting the brand new Bristol Digital Futures Initiative (BDFI) that will examine emerging technologies and carry out research that will be shared to help create a better digital world.

The project has just been awarded £100 million to get the scheme off the ground. Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund has contributed £29 million, while the remaining funding has been made through philanthropic donations (£16 million) and donations from the initiative’s corporate partners (£55 million).


While the donation of such big amounts of money is impressive, when reviewing the list of partners on the project, it’s not difficult to understand where it came from.

The university has teamed up with not only some of the biggest names in tech, but also entertainment, travel, and telecoms, not to mention community partners and local government.

Among their ranks are Aardman Animations, Ashley Community Housing, Airbus, BBC, Bristol Media Group, British Telecom (BT), Dyson, Knowle West Media Centre, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), System C Healthcare, Thales UK, and Toshiba.

“Bristol and the West of England is an incredibly important area for us. Our long-standing research partnership with the University of Bristol underpins the very foundation of modern and future communications technologies,” Paul Coles, Group English Regions Director for BT said in a statement.

“We are very excited about Bristol Digital Futures Institute and are already in discussions about how we grow our partnership further.”

The Institute will aim to generate 30 new collaborative projects per year. It will be jointly led by Professor Susan Halford, a social scientist and professor of sociology, and Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, an engineer and professor of high-performance networks.

“The digital world is changing fast – we’re building new artificial intelligence and faster networks, which are becoming much more connected with our day to day lives. This will bring opportunities, but also huge challenges,” said Halford.

“Rather than waiting for the future to happen, we’ll get ahead of it and drive our digital future for the benefit of society, economic growth and prosperity.”


The project promises to not just be a great benefit to the tech world, but the entire Bristol region as it will bring jobs and investment to this thriving innovation hub.

Bristol University claims the BDFI will involve 200 people in its research and innovation contributing over £180 million to the economy over ten years. It will also provide a huge collaborative co-creation space on the new campus for local and national business leaders and researchers.

Facilities will include a state-of-the-art interactive auditorium and the world’s first reality emulator enabling the study of future digital systems at scale. Its cutting-edge labs will allow researchers to study a range of scenarios, from emerging challenges in future cities; protecting ourselves against cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, and exploring how digital technologies are experienced by different social groups.