Innovate '09 - for growth

It is now only 10 weeks to go before our annual flagship conference, Innovate, to be held this year on October 13th at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.  Booking formally opens in a few weeks' time but over 800 people have already registered their interest on the website. It may be the summer vacation period, but a lot of hard work is going on to prepare and finalise the arrangements.

The theme of the conference and exhibition this year is ‘Innovate for Growth' - and in particular, how to stimulate growth in a downturn.

Over the last few months I have read with much interest various blogs, articles and reports with experts offering differing views on the value of innovation conferences and providing various recommendations on what works and what doesn't. I recall a recent blog which complained that, too often, big set-piece conferences are just being used as an ego trip for the speakers, or are there to serve only the organisers.

Our strategy of ‘Connect and Catalyse' has as one of its key themes the need to promote a climate of innovation.   This involves reward, recognition, knowledge exchange and most of all communication. The Innovate event is part of that communication.

I strongly believe that a good innovation conference should provide plenty of opportunity for attendees to contribute and network.

Our first two Innovate conferences under Technology Strategy Board leadership were certainly successful and useful for attendees (at least that's what they told us). They particularly valued the networking opportunities, and this and other constructive feedback from last year will help us to create an even more valuable experience at Innovate'09.

So a key part of the event will be to provide greater opportunities for your engagement, contribution and networking - and not just in a daunting ‘amphitheatre' setting as is sometimes the case with large audiences. I hope that our approach this year will go even further towards meeting the needs of attendees.

Innovate '09: for Growth will address all aspects of technology innovation but will have a focus built around our current strategic priorities - the low carbon economy, sustainable energy generation and supply, the digital economy and healthcare of the future. These focus areas will be reflected both in the agenda and in exhibition zones around the event.

We are hoping to confirm a senior political figure in the next couple of weeks as a keynote speaker, and are now finalising arrangements with some inspiring practitioners to contribute during the day. They include Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy, and Dr Ruth McKernan, Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer Regenerative Medicine (to name just two).

Our plan for the day is to have a good weave of presentations and debate going on the main stage as well as running a programme of smaller workshops and sessions throughout the day. Our aim is to provide a lively, varied and rich range of things to do during delegates' time at the event.

Over the last 12 months our portfolio of research and development projects has been progressing well and the exhibition space at the Business Design Centre provides a perfect opportunity to showcase a number of business technology exhibits. We already have a list of some pretty impressive companies keen to showcase their innovations and their partnership with the Technology Strategy Board. We are always keen to hear from others so do let us know if you have any ideas.

I am keen that we provide the right environment for attendees to meet with others, and even to pre-arrange meetings - whether other businesses, researchers or other partners in the innovation landscape.  A common theme that I have picked up from the successful business incubation centres I have visited is the importance of networking zones, and of course the quality of the coffee provided!

Innovate will provide the perfect opportunity to meet with the optimised Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs), as part of the Technology Strategy Board's extended structure.

It will provide a chance to hear about the latest funding opportunities that will allow business to commercialise research and development activities - whether by working with our Innovation Platforms, or through collaborative R&D, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, SBRI and European schemes. Innovate often provides a focal point for our next competitions for R&D funding. I hope that we will be in a position to make a number of funding announcements this year.

The Business Design Centre provides an ideal business ‘market place' venue for Innovate but I am equally conscious about feedback that it seems as though we always stay in London. We are looking at ways we can share the conference through the country, and over time link into other regional innovation events. Our involvement in the creative industries and digital economy should provide the perfect opportunity to practice what we preach.

Innovate'09 will provide a great opportunity to update you on our thoughts and ideas, and those of others, on the practical implementation of innovation during the downturn and beyond, and the opportunities the future holds. More importantly it is our opportunity to hear the thoughts and ideas of business, and identify further areas where we can help. In that context I would welcome your thoughts ahead of the Conference and certainly encourage you to pre-register.  I very much look forward to seeing you at Innovate'09 - for Growth.


Last updated on Tuesday 18 August 2009 at 22:55

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