Central Research Laboratory
5th Year Accelerator Anniversary: We reflect and accelerate into 2020!
When the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) was first incubated, its name was inspired by a rich and innovative past. CRL’s location in Hayes, now called the Old Vinyl Factory, was the headquarters of EMI, formed through the merger of the Gramaphone Company and Colombia, making the area more than just a record pressing plant. This new enterprise was a global hotspot of technological innovation.
In 2015, CRL’s first accelerator programme designed for product makers and hardware pioneers, took flight.
The intensive 6 month programme supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Brunel University gave early stage startups and product pioneers the opportunity to take their prototype ideas and build them into a viable business.
Now its 5th year anniversary marks a great opportunity to reflect on past inspiration and look forward to the exciting developments for CRL and the accelerator in 2020.
Driving EMI’s in-house innovation was a division called the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) responsible for major breakthroughs in high definition TV and stereo sound. In fact, the world’s first stereo recording is of trains pulling in and out of Hayes station!
During the second world war, the CRL team pioneered airborne radar, saving thousands of lives and in 1972 Nobel prize winner, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, CBE, invented the first ever CT Scanner at the Central Research Laboratory, using Xray computed tomography. His name is immortalised in the Hounsfield scale, used as a quantitive measure of radiodensity in evaluating CT scans.
Despite these ground-breaking inventions, the decline in vinyl record sales meant that EMI moved its operations away from Hayes and the factory site was left empty – even though CRL continued to operate until 1996.
When regeneration experts, U+I acquired the factory site in 2011, they recognised an opportunity to create a new chapter for Hayes. The Central Research Laboratory re-launched as an incubator for startups and new business tenants arrived including Sonos, GoDaddy and the Global Academy, drawing inspiration from the exciting music and tech innovation heritage of the Old Vinyl Factory site.
In 2020, the CRL accelerator programme continues to offer an array of support including product design, testing, manufacturing (including a trip to Shenzhen in China), financial, marketing and fundraising.
Access to our workshop facilities is fundamental for our Accelerator members and these include 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutting, thermoforming and CNC milling machines. In fact we are the UK’s only 24/7 access prototype workshops!
Over the past 5 years, the CRL accelerator programme has helped entrepreneurs develop a huge range of award winning products from meditation support to medtech and make-up hygiene.
Notable alumni include Aceleron, an advanced lithium battery developer focused on cleaner, renewable energy, Moment Pebble, a meditation device and Cosicare, a handheld device to help children soothe the effects of eczema. Data driven robotics designers, BotsandUs are members of CRL, utilising our studio and workshop space and expanding use of our facilities as they grow their business.
In the words of our 6th and most recent accelerator cohort, the programme support effects are highly prized and praised. Pete Beckett, founder of Ethiot, says:
“It’s been incredible, it really has. The response we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive which echoes how I feel about the programme as a whole. CRL has taken Ethiot from early-stage prototype to pre-launch in a little under six months”.
2020 sees another major milestone for the CRL Accelerator as we build our brand new innovation hub just a stone’s throw from CRL, the Plus X Powerhouse.
Renovated from EMI’s former energy plant, Plus X Powerhouse will be our first innovation hub in London, offering triple the amount of work space and workshop facilities as well as a beautiful event space, café and green inner courtyard.
We will soon announce our 7th new Accelerator Cohort and feel hugely excited about the range of product concepts and potential. As we help support a new generation of inventors, watch this video for more information about our Accelerator programme and how it could potentially help you too! CRL Accelerator Demo Day Showcase
Whether you’re an early stage startup seeking support or a business looking to connect with talented entrepreneurs and pioneers, contact [email protected] to find out more.