Wednesday, 21 May 2008

“The Innovation Edge” Review (complete with picture & video goodies!)

“The Innovation Edge”, Nesta's 18 monthly conference, took place yesterday at the Festival Hall London and I was there exhibiting on behalf of RBD.

These days I go to a fair number of conferences calling for social and climate change through innovation. Listening to speakers challenging the ‘youth of today’ to step up to the plate, form enterprises and fix the problems of our parents and grandparents generations. Imagine my relief to be part of a conference that not only also spoke of these things but listened and actively supported innovation.

I think there is a gradual realisation by the Government that we are innovating in this country and need more support to continue to do so. We are working creatively in the fields of science, business and technology and thanks in no small part to NESTA we are getting great British ideas out there into the global market. There were more tickets requested for this conference than health and safety allowed NESTA to issue and it was held at the Royal Festival Hall. This was a huge event with massive ‘star’ and ‘political’ power but it pales in comparison to the volume and value of the ideas and enthusiasm of the exhibitors. No, I am not just blowing my own trumpet here. Collectively all the exhibited businesses presented a powerful voice of uncompromising change.

The speakers inlcuded Chris Powell (NESTA’s Chairman), Jonathan Kestenbaum (NESTA’s Chief Executive) Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Inventor of the WWW / personal hero of mine) and Sir Bob Geldof (Live 8 / global megastar) all of whom were amazing but I wont say too much about them as you can listen to their speaches as recorded by Nesta *Here*

After the morning’s speakers I headed back to man the Red Button exhibition stall. I was thrilled at how well attended, it was! People were genuinely interested, bothering to read the sexy information leaflets James designed in their entirety before consigning them to the bottom of their briefcases and handbags and the video I created for our plasma screen (see below) was a resounding hit for which I am thankful as it took so long to ‘perfect’ that I got less than 3 hours kip the previous night. There was a constant stream of insightful and interesting questions to the extent that I didn’t seem to have a second even to pause of a sip of my coffee. And most importantly of all, I traded my stash of business cards for those of people substantially more interesting that I.

Then I happened upon on one of those opportunities which cannot survive hesitancy, PM Gordon Brown was entering the building and for a few moments everyone was standing around unoccupied. Yes, that includes Sir Bob. So barely pausing for a gulp of coffee I dashed (promotional material in hand) over to him and introduced myself and the company. As it turns out he had heard of us (score) and had some questions for me. He expressed (or cunningly feigned) a distinct interest in the project and I got a fair while to discuss our plans with him, answer his questions as well as being the open-eared recipient of his advice.

All in all a pretty successful day!

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