Happy New Year! Welcome to the first Best of the West of 2018.
As always, we’ve had our ears to the ground for positive business news here in the West Country.
Thankfully, it’s never in short supply. So here are this month’s three success stories making the headlines for all the right reasons.
Ever heard of SETI, the organisation that searches for extra-terrestrial intelligence?
The UFO hunters amongst you may know that its CPU-intense search is fuelled by spare computer power. Essentially, people and businesses “donate” the processing power from their computers and smartphones when they aren’t being used.
Bristol-based entrepreneur Gareth Williams saw this and realised there was another process in need of what is essentially a crowdsourced supercomputer: 3D rendering. So he launched YellowDog.
By using YellowDog to harnessing hundreds of thousands of processors and servers, animation studios and artists can slash the time it takes to render complex projects.
Now three years old, the company works with a large (and growing) number of businesses looking to do just that.
We’re giving them a deserved shout out this month as Gareth announced recently that he’s in the process of closing a Series A round of investment.
Their raising of £2.6m will allow the company to build its team and scale up its offering.
As of this moment, we don’t render out anything on the scale of YellowDog’s customers. But in future, we may do – and we’ll certainly be tapping them up if that’s the case. It’s a no-brainer!
On October 17th last year, a new jewel in Bristol’s crown opened its doors.
Aerospace Bristol is a museum situated in the hangars of the city’s Filton Airfield. It is home to an impressive collection of over 8,000 aviation-related exhibits including Concorde 216, the final Concorde to be built and the last to ever fly.
Although the museum is a celebration of aviation in general, there is a tangible link to Bristol’s role in aviation history.
As well as Concorde 216, which was built in the city at the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC)’s Filton factory, several more Bristol-built aeroplanes are displayed. These include a Bristol Scout, a Bristol Fighter and a Blenheim IV WWII bomber.
This wonderful collection increased by one last week with the arrival of something rather special.
The Bristol Type 170 Freighter was built by BAC in the 1940s. Only 11 remain intact to this day, and after a protracted campaign and subsequent transportation process across the world from New Zealand, one of these rare and beautiful beasts arrived at Bristol’s Portbury docks.
It’s now in the museum, and although it’s not quite ready to be exhibited, it will be well worth the wait when it is.
2018 is fast shaping up to be the year of voice. Not the terrible TV show with the chairs. Voice tech: the recognition and subsequent action of voice commands by our devices.
This week’s Consumer Electronics Show is awash with voice-activated tech, mostly integrated with the big two players in this field, Amazon and Google.
But there’s another company that’s playing equally hard, just a little more behind the scenes. Bristol-based XMOS builds processors for voice assistants. Mainly the kind that filters out surrounding sound to pick up your voice from across the room.
This “far-field” processing technology is essential for voice assistants to work in our noisy homes and offices. The family of processors that XMOS launched last year is the only one in the world approved for Amazon Alexa.
As such, the company is reaping the benefits of this impressive feat. They’re moving to new Bristol offices in the plush surroundings of Queen Square, and taking on more staff to further accelerate their growth.
Exciting times for an exciting business in a truly revolutionary industry.