Entrepreneurs take flight at new aviation tech hub

Nov 26, 2018

Barclays and Cranfield University have announced a partnership to establish the first Eagle Lab dedicated to aviation technology.

The co-working and innovation space – one of the first cross-industry collaborations to accelerate the development of AvTech – is due to open its doors in December. Its occupants will benefit from business advice and mentoring from Barclays experts and access to world-class specialists and facilities at Cranfield University.

The Eagle Lab is the first step in the university’s ambitious aviation, innovation and entrepreneurship project which aims to create specialist enterprise facilities and programmes to support start-ups and SMEs, particularly those with high-growth potential.

The Eagle Lab will be tailored to the aerospace and aviation community, drawing on the university’s global research airport. Built on a former RAF base, Cranfield is one of only a few universities in the world to own and run its own airport.

The Lab will include more than 60 desks over two floors with a combination of private offices, meetings rooms, hot-desking and breakout spaces. The ground floor will be home to a Maker Space facility to support rapid prototyping and product development with features like 3D printing and specialised AvTech equipment – all supported by dedicated Eagle Labs staff.

Barclays opened its specialist Barclays UK Ventures business unit tearlier this year to work with entrepreneurs.

Jon Corbett, the bank’s head of SME in the South East Midlands and Cambridgeshire, said: “New technology is rapidly transforming the aerospace and aviation industry nd we want to ensure businesses across the South East Midlands, large and small, can take advantage of and contribute to this huge opportunity.

“That is why we are excited to open a Barclays Eagle Lab here at Cranfield University, helping entrepreneurs turn a clever idea into a thriving business by giving them access to world-class facilities and a network of potential clients, investors and mentors. Ultimately, we hope this Lab will help to stimulate and accelerate not just the local economy, but the industry as a whole.”

Professor Tom Stephenson, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation at Cranfield University, said: “We are delighted that Barclays is opening an Eagle Lab on campus, marking the first step of our ambitious aviation, innovation and entrepreneurship project, an intensive support package for aerospace and aviation entrepreneurs.

“The government has rightly identified the potential of SMEs to develop the industry’s technologies of the future and at Cranfield we are determined to do all we can to support businesses in the region help realise their ambitions.”

Earlier this year, Barclays launched a new £370 million investment fund for SMEs in the Midlands to help to generate sustainable economic growth across the area.

The fund is working in tandem with the government’s Midlands Engine Investment Fund to boost the targets of supporting over 1,400 smaller businesses and creating around 3,800 new jobs.

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