Bristol To Be The Home Of Dyson’s New £100m Research Hub

The engineering and technology giant Dyson has announced plans to invest £100m in a new research and development hub that will open in Bristol, something that the company promises will benefit the region as the centre will open the doors to hundreds of software and artificial intelligence engineer positions. 

Although plans are not finalised and planning permission is still pending, Dyson is hoping that they will be able to open the new research and development hub opposite Castle Park close to Bristol Bridge. 

The hub will be a huge addition to Bristol and the wider Western region, the BBC reports, but it will also hopefully be a step in pushing forward the UK tech sector at a time when the government is desperately looking for ways to accelerate the growth of the industry throughout the country.

A Look Into The New Research Hub

Dyson was founded in Wiltshire by Sir James Dyson more than 30 years ago and it has now grown to become a global tech firm most famously known for its vacuum cleaners and fans. 

Jake Dyson, son of founder Sir James and the company’s chief engineer, explained that: “The new Dyson Technology Centre in Bristol will be a vital hub contributing to Dyson’s connected future.”

This idea of connectivity is something that the hub will focus on when it comes to its eventual opening. Dyson said that the centre will primarily focus on sensors, apps, and “connectivity” in its future products. 

When explaining this decision, Mr Dyson said: “To us, sensors, apps, and connectivity are about more than simply adding function to the machine. They transform how we support our owners and assess autonomously how to improve a product’s performance over its lifetime to ensure they are at peak performance.” 

Victoria Matthews – Bristol director of Business West – advocates for companies setting up in the West region and, as such, has spoken out about how pleased she is about the manufacturing company’s decision.

“Dyson could have gone anywhere – it’s a global company so any city in any country – but they have chosen to invest here in Bristol,” she said.

“It’s a testament to the talent we have here, it’s a testament to the business community we have here. we have built a strong tech ecosystem at a time when all businesses are struggling to recruit and retain talent.”

Dyson’s announcement is “fantastic news for the community”, she finished. 

Of Everywhere, Why Bristol?

Not only is this great news for the overall UK tech industry, which is looking for ways to incentivise its growth, but the decision may help to set an example to other big companies to expand their reach outside of London. Over the years, London has constantly held the top spot when it comes to funding, opportunity, and investment.

Dyson’s decision demonstrates that companies can benefit from casting their eye further afield outside the country’s capital when it comes to where they want to set up shop. But this leaves the question, why choose Bristol?

The Dyson headquarters are actually based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. However, industry insiders have admitted that the firm has been struggling to tempt software and AI engineers to the site.

On the other hand, according to TechSpark’s research, Bristol has around 28,000 specialist tech workers. In fact, the tech industry in the city is worth around £1.7bn to the regional economy. 

Ben Shorrock is the managing director of the networking agency TechSpark – a company that actively works to promote the city as a hub for tech investment. Shorrock says that Bristol is a “melting pot” of skills that engineering firms need. 

“Bristol continues to be a leading place for tech businesses and people”

Its unique mix of historic industries from the creative, showcased in organisations like Aardman Animations and the BBC, to engineering through businesses like Hewlett-Packard and Airbus, means we’re a melting pot of the skills needed in developing cutting-edge tech.”

“Future technologies like robotics, sensors and AI all need expertise in data, hardware and design, so it’s no surprise global businesses are looking here for their research and development centres,” he continued. 

The Bigger Picture: Dyson And Tech In The UK

Whilst Dyson is planning to invest £2.75bn globally in manufacturing and research – with development sites to be opened in Singapore, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Poland – news of its plans for the UK couldn’t have come at a better time for the country. 

To begin with, the new hub will create plenty of jobs. Whilst Dyson already has an office in Bristol that has around 100 tech specialists, a spokesperson of the new centre has said that the new research hub will create hundreds more jobs. 

This is on top of the 3,500 people in the UK that Dyson already employs, with its second Wiltshire site in Malmesbury the base for its engineering institute.

But not only is the hub great for UK employment, it comes at a time when the UK tech sector is looking for ways to incentivise its growth.

In terms of software and AI – two fields Dyson’s new research centre will focus on – the UK tech sector is falling behind. Currently, the US and China are reigning at the top of the tech and AI development race and this is something UK Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are desperately trying to turn around.

Mr Hunt has already stated that it is simply not an option to ‘opt out’ of what is becoming known as the ‘Technology Cold War’. 

The Chancellor has already put forward £900m of the Spring Budget toward accelerating the UK tech sector, with Mr Sunak announcing that an additional £100m in government funding will be put towards a specialised tech Task Force to keep up with advancements happening overseas. 

At this point, it is critical that the UK appears to be an attractive place for tech industries to open and invest. Whilst there has been no official news on how many jobs the new centre will offer or when exactly it will be open, Dyson’s announcement is still very exciting and, indeed, just the kind of step that could help to reignite the country’s tech sector.