Business Discovery in Britain

Guest Post by: Emma Ueda, a Foster Undergraduate in her junior year focusing in Marketing and Information Systems. Emma participated in Business Britain with a GBC study abroad scholarship. 

After a few days of adjusting to the new time zone through some low-intensity activities like strolling through Bath and meeting for a nice dinner, our group jumped right into the company visits. On our third official program day, we visited three different establishments in Bristol; SETsquared, Pervasive Media Studio, and Ultrahaptics. Each had a focus on innovation and invention but all had unique qualities and specializations.

The train to Bristol was very brief and I was surprised by the close proximity the station had to SETsquared, our first destination. We soon walked up some stairs and were greeted by employees. I was very curious to learn about their infrastructure as I had visited UW’s CoMotion earlier this year as a part of one of my Brmarketing classes.The two establishments are very similar in that they are both incubators to exciting start-up projects.

SETsquared was just what I expected as an incubator but of course had its own amazing work in the field of hardware and software. The work environment was very modern with an added industrial look. The most interesting technology I remember learning about was a project involving “bending” sound so people could privately listen to audio without headphones.

Pervasive Media Studio wasthe next stop for us. My first impression when walking into their office (and seeing their impressive wall murals) was that creativity was really valued in their environment. I also noticed their structure differed quite a bit from SETsquared because instead of aiding individual companies get their start, they had teams (producers, for example) who worked together on all kinds of projects at a time. One of their primary projects seemed to be making cities more interactive. A producer told us about an application they had created a few years ago that enabled people to have a text conversation with inanimate objects (such as a tree on the street).This interaction could then collect raw data of what people were saying about their surroundings.

Our final visit was the highly-anticipated Ultrahaptics. I am not very familiar with virtual reality or any form of haptics so the idea of this company was so abstract to me when listening to its briefing. It was not until I saw the technology in action that I fully understood the magnitude of what our world is capable of these days. The ability to control an interface without any physical touch is absolutely revolutionary (and crazy)! I was in awe when trying out all the different demonstrations.

After the long and eventful day, we were all ready to go back to Bath to recharge. It was so interesting to be in a tech hub such as Bristol, especially to kick off our company visits. I feel like I was able to gain perspective on how people all over the world are challenging their abilities and attempting the impossible. It’s this kind of disruptive technology that we are in constant search for to better our world in efficiency and sustainability.

This trip has been life-changing in so many ways. Not just the breadth of knowledge we acquired from the company visits, but the friendships we made along the way and the new sense of independence. Exploring the streets of London as well as the surrounding cities was a magical experience that I will never forget. This seminar has truly made an impact on my confidence personally and academically and I am so thankful to have been a part of it!