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Bristol has long led the field in terms of innovation, being home to a number of groundbreaking and pioneering technologies. The city has punched far above its weight for a long time.

Where would the world be without these strides forward in research and development?

Bristol Innovation

1. Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge is far more than just a strikingly attractive landmark for photographers and tourists. It’s a stunning engineering achievement, which pushed the boundaries of innovation. There were suspension bridges before, but the Clifton Suspension Bridge was huge for a single span bridge when it opened in 1864, 35 years after construction started. The world’s first modern bungee jump was taken from the bridge in 1979.

2. Fry’s Chocolate

These days, Fry’s are probably best known for their Turkish Delight, and are wholly-owned by Cadbury’s. In 1795, Fry’s patented a technique to grind cocoa beans using a Watt Steam Engine. In 1847, the company created the world’s first ever chocolate bar, immeasurably improving the lives of literally everyone (except dogs, and people allergic to chocolate).

3. Concorde

Designed and built in Filton, North Bristol, Concorde pushed passenger flight further and faster than anyone had previously thought possible. Its iconic design ensured that it will live on long after the supersonic passenger jets put out of commission. First flown in 1969, the planes were in service for 27 years. The final flight took place in October 2003, making a dramatic flypast of Clifton Suspension Bridge, before touching down for the last time on the runway at Filton.

4. Motorcycle Side-car

Numerous inventors across the world were involved in the evolution of the motorbike, from the steam-powered options which became available in Paris in the 1860’s, to the velocipedes that followed. Bristol played a key role in the motorcycle’s development. In 1901 P J Kerswell created some of the first early production models from his shop in Bristol’s Old Market. The very first commercial side-car hit Bristol’s streets not long afterwards in 1904, but somehow riding in the sidecar never looked quite as cool.

5. Tarmac

Without tarmac, riding a motorbike would usually be a horribly painful form of torture, rather than “two wheels closer to flying”. Tarmac was invented by John Loudon McAdam as a solution for his road-building project starting in Bristol. Tar had been used as a component of road-making in Britain since the 19th Century, and archaeologists have discovered tarred roads in modern day Baghdad dating from the 8th Century. Before the arrival of the motorcar, and formal Tarmac patent in 1901, the technique had not enjoyed widespread adoption. First pioneered in Bristol, it is still used worldwide to this day.

6. HP Labs

Based in Bristol for several years, HP Labs have created such innovations as automatic virus throttling, tiny memory chips for simple exchange of information, and much more.

“The Laboratories began as a place where people with ideas could develop them” Bill Hewlett once said.

7. Bristol Spaceplanes

Building on the work on spaceplanes from the 1960s, Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd aim to bring space travel within the grasp of the ordinary person by drastically reducing the price of each trip. You can even support the project, and take an equity stake by supporting the project on CrowdCube.

8. Beating Heart Surgery

Beating heart surgery, pioneered by the Bristol Heart Institute, improves chances of survival and reduces the costs of heart surgery. It also reduces the chances of post-operative complications, and reduces the time patients spend in recovery.

9. Hydrate For Health

The Hydrant, a solution to patent hydration invented by Bristol man Mark Moran, is a simple but incredibly effective redesign of the water bottle to help patients stay hydrated in even the most difficult conditions.

10. Bristol Robotics Laboratory

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory has been working on many cool applications for robotics over the years, but the warmest and fuzziest theme of their work has been robots designed to care for and enable the elderly and disabled. Oh, and also a method for generating electricity from urine, which we’re less sure about.

11. Cinematography

William Friese Green was a key figure in early cinematography, creating early motion pictures and a precursory form of colour photography. Although personally unsuccessful, Green invented a huge number of incredibly useful tools, techniques and processes which paved the way for film-makers for decades to come.

12. Our Clients

Bristol is a hotbed of innovation. We work with a huge variety of companies pushing the boundaries of what’s technologically possible. We’re extremely fortunate to work with some of the city’s, and the UK’s most forward-thinking individuals, spearheading radical ideas across almost every industry sector. We’re extremely proud to be helping some of Bristol’s innovators of today and tomorrow, achieve the recognition they deserve. Contact us to find out how your business could benefit from R&D tax relief.