A mix of leaders from the worlds of investment, technology and design came to The Old Vinyl Factory on 31 March for the official launch of the Central Research Laboratory (CRL).
A unique partnership between U+I and Brunel University, the 12-month CRL Incubator Programme has been running as a pilot since September 2015. 11 start-ups joined the first cohort including technologists, designers, musicians, physicists, biologists and toymakers. Among activities at the new CRL workshop is the creation of prototype submarine drones, robotic gloves, digital drawing systems and modular walking aids. Although the programme has only been running for six months, each of the start-ups are now registered businesses, have a defined business model and have secured seed funding.
Alongside discussions led by key speakers and experts in their respective fields, the launch event gave a number of the CRL’s start-ups the opportunity to present their business pitches to a panel of investors and an audience of industry specialists. Key topics of discussion at the event also centred on the unique challenges of starting up an innovative, high growth hardware business and how the CRL helps overcome those challenges.
Feedback from the Venture Capital community was overwhelmingly positive, praising the originality of the ideas and the extent to which they are all genuinely trying to change markets and tackle substantive problems.
In the words of CRL Programme Director James Nettleton, “… the CRL is fast becoming the home of hardware innovation again.”