Innovation centre for ‘AvTech’ to open in December, with advice and mentoring for SMEs to accelerate their business and access to world-class experts and facilities 

  • ‘AvTech’ Eagle Lab will be launched at Cranfield University, a co-working space for ambitious entrepreneurs to scale and grow, drawing on the University’s aerospace heritage stretching over 70 years
  • The Lab, located at the heart of the University campus, will feature facilities to support rapid prototyping, product development and specialised AvTech equipment
  • The announcement marks the first step in the University’s broader initiative to support start-ups and SMEs in the aviation industry, and follows from the Barclays launch earlier this year of a new £370m investment fund for small businesses in the Midlands

Barclays and Cranfield University have announced a partnership to establish the first Eagle Lab dedicated to aviation technology, or AvTech, based on the University’s campus.

From December, the co-working and innovation space – one of the first cross-industry collaborations to accelerate the development of AvTech – will open for ambitious entrepreneurs in industry to scale and grow. Residents 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 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 will include over 60 desks laid out over two floors with a combination of private offices, meetings rooms, hot-desking and breakout spaces. The ground floor will be home to a fully-stocked Maker Space, a facility to support rapid prototyping and product development with features like 3D printing and specialised AvTech equipment – all supported by dedicated Eagle Labs staff.

The launch of the Cranfield Eagle Lab follows the creation in April this year of a new business unit at Barclays called Barclays UK (BUK) Ventures. BUK Ventures has an independent mandate to deliver new customer experiences at pace and scale – ultimately driving growth for communities, business and Barclays – and is responsible for growing the Eagle Lab network.

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.”

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

“That’s why we’re 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.”

The announcement is a continuation of Barclays’ commitment to growth for the wider region. Earlier this year, the bank launched a new £370m investment fund for SMEs in the Midlands to help generate sustainable economic growth across the area. The fund is working in tandem with the government’s Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) to boost the targets of supporting over 1,400 smaller businesses and creating around 3,800 new jobs.


Notes for editors

About Eagle Labs

Eagle Labs are Barclays spaces to help entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses collaborate, innovate and grow. Eagle Labs aim to cultivate a community of likeminded entrepreneurs and provide them access to a collaborative environment, peer networks, and opportunities to maximise growth.

Eagle Labs also offer support to established larger organisations, developing programmes to help corporates create an entrepreneurial culture by introducing innovative practices and encouraging intrapreneurship.

With 19 Eagle Labs across the country and more in the pipeline, the focus is to help accelerate UK scale-ups, promote collaborative innovation across the entire ecosystem and enable access to, and training on, new and emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, 3D-printing and the Internet of Things which make up ‘Industry 4.0’ – the fourth industrial revolution.


About Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer and wholesale bank with global reach, offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 85,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.



About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.