A soaring success one year on

One year ago, Barclays and Cranfield University came together to open an Eagle Lab facility in the heart of the University campus in Bedfordshire.

Drawing on the University’s aerospace heritage, the Lab aimed to act as an incubation space for young tech businesses, with a specific focus on aerospace and aviation technology.

The Cranfield Eagle Lab houses four offices of varying sizes as well as co-working and hot desk spaces and meeting rooms. The ground floor is also home to a Maker Space - a facility that supports rapid prototyping and product development with features including a 3D printer, laser cutter, vinyl cutter and workshop - which is supported by Eagle Labs staff. There is also a tech lab, fully equipped with digital fabrication equipment and a dedicated lab engineer on hand to help businesses and entrepreneurs to navigate the internet of things (IoT), user experience, sensor technology, advanced manufacturing and augmented reality. Residents also get access to mentoring and coaching from business growth specialists and receive information about grants and funding.

On Friday 17th January, those behind the creation of the Eagle Lab invited the local business community and Lab residents to an anniversary party. The event saw over 70 people attend.

The Cranfield Eagle Lab is the first step in the University’s AVIATE project (Aviation, Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship), which will create unique specialist enterprise facilities and programmes at Cranfield University to support start-ups and SMEs, particularly those with high-growth potential.

The Lab is one of 25 across the UK, with other locations including Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Birmingham. Since the first Eagle Lab was launched in 2015, Barclays has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors and hosted over 1,600 community and business events through its Labs.

Elizabeth Boadi, Ecosystem Manager at Cranfield Eagle Lab, said: “The original concept for Eagle Labs was to take over under-used branch and office space and turn them into thriving business and community hubs to drive digital skills to help develop the UK economy. Now, we have broadened our model to work with partners who share our vision to create a prosperous and progressive community.

“Our network of Eagle Labs provides entrepreneurs, individuals and ambitious businesses with the space, tools and confidence to innovate and scale. We offer co-working and office space, structured mentoring, events designed to help businesses grow, industry and corporate transformation and access to new and emerging technologies.

“We chose the Cranfield University campus as a location for one of our Eagle Labs as it drew on the University’s aerospace heritage stretching back over 70 years. It has been great working with the business community in Bedfordshire over the last 12 months and we look forward to working with many more over the coming years.”

Over the last 12 months, residents at the Cranfield Eagle Lab have benefited from a range of support services, including business advice and mentoring from Barclays experts, news of funding opportunities and a schedule of events to educate, inspire and connect businesses within the Lab.

Residents are also able to access the world-class specialists and facilities at Cranfield University, including the University’s own airport to develop and test their innovations.

Anna Plaster, Director of Offshore Aerial Survey services (OASIS), moved into the lab last year. She said: “I am a very happy Eagle Lab resident. Having been the first business to be based at this location, I can honestly say I am thoroughly impressed by the facility, people and opportunities that have come about because of my residency here.

“OASIS provides surveillance and inspection technology solutions to a broad range industry sectors in the aviation, aerospace, maritime, renewable and defence sector. Having a workspace in which I have everything I need, the numerous (valuable) event invites, tangible introductions and first-class financial support by a wide range of people at Barclays have all really helped my business. I give the Lab and the team within it 10/10!”

For more information, visit www.labs.uk.barclays/locations/cranfield or call Elizabeth Boadi on 07766 364546.