Beyond the building itself, there are also plans to transform the area around Temple Meads into a new ‘heart’ of Bristol over the next decade with over 10,000 homes and 20,000 jobs. The hope is that the Temple Quarter regeneration will deliver the kind of transformation seen around King’s Cross station in London, boosting the local economy and creating new communities.
Catapult’s Chief Business Officer Paul Wilson – himself a proud Bristolian – joined the group to explain the historical context of Temple Meads station, which he said has always been somewhat removed from the centre of the city after Brunel was prevented by the authorities from bringing trains into the heart of Bristol. Perhaps the planned regeneration around the station could help extend the centre of Bristol closer to Temple Meads?
That afternoon, the Catapult’s Living Labs Manager Clemence Martin-Beaumont advised innovators to bear in mind three key words when taking forward their ideas to trial new technologies. They should, she said, be ‘ambitious’ and test things they don’t already know; be ‘open minded’ and curious and ready to gather unexpected feedback; and be ‘flexible’ in their approach, as testing in a live environment can bring unexpected outcomes.
Aided by Accelerator Programme Manager Agathe Parois, the pair encouraged the cohort to take part in a series of practical exercises to challenge their understanding of their own ideas, ask how they could improve them and to give the chance to pose questions of the rail team. The next stage of the Station Innovation Zone programme will see the appointment of three companies to trial their innovations over the coming months, after which their impact will be assessed.
Rail passengers passing through Temple Meads should brace themselves for an exciting early glimpse soon into how technology could help people navigate and interact with large stations of the future.