digital experiences that people love
Fran Allen
Fran Allen
28th Aug 2015

More than just a bridge?

Silicon valley

Ok, so we don’t live in a valley (but we do have a pretty impressive Gorge), but with its strong media, tech and IT culture twinned with a passionate entrepreneurial vibe, it could be argued that Bristol is the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the UK.  A bit of a grand statement maybe, but there are definite similarities between the two.


What comes to mind when you think of San Francisco?  A beautiful iconic bridge? Tick. We’ve got one of those too.  A waterfront location with lots of boats.  Tick, us too. But since the 1980s, San Francisco has also become renowned as a centre for leading high tech companies which have colonized an area to the South of the bay, now internationally known as Silicon Valley.


Silicon Valley houses the big tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Facebook……to name a few.  But alongside these supergiants of the tech world, nestle thousands of tech start-ups all looking to rub shoulders with the big boys.  Silicon Valley is a leading hub and start-up ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development, and the businesses there account for one third of all venture capital investment in the whole of the US.

Bristol may not have the supergiants, but we definitely share the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that flows freely down the Valley/Gorge.  Bristol’s economy depends on creative media (alongside electronics and aerospace) and we are rapidly becoming the UK hotspot for those wanting to pursue a career in media. And alongside the innovative spirit lies real talent.  


The BBC has invested heavily in the area and as a result Bristol is a global centre of excellence for factual TV production and natural history filmmaking.  Bristol’s Bottle Yard studios offers the second largest international film and TV production facility in the UK.  International production company Endemol is based here.  Emmy award winning Touch Productions is here. We have Aardmann Animations, Oscar and BAFTA award winners.  But we also have a plethora of successful and award winning small businesses across the digital, games and design industries. We even have Banksy (who recently launched ‘Dismaland’; his first exhibition since 2009 which is housed at the dis-used ‘Tropicana’ Lido site at Weston-super-Mare near Bristol).


“The Bristol and Bath region has built a tremendous reputation for innovation, technology and creativity, with its strong, collaborative educational institutions, its hi-tech industry and its width and depth in the creative sector” says David Sproxton, co-founder of Aardman. “It’s a great place to see the future happening now” .

At the heart of the vibrant creativity lie the people. Like San Francisco (which houses Stanford University), Bristol also has prestigious universities which produce 10,000 graduates a year, most of whom stay in the area.  This fresh, young, bright blood keeps the energy levels and the passion high and feeds the future success of Bristol’s talent.

Like San Francisco, Bristol is definitely more than just a bridge.