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Innovating the future

Whether you're looking for inspiration, collaboration or to export, a visit to Innovate UK 2014 might just fit the bill. Graham Pitcher reports.

UK companies are being exhorted to embrace innovation and to look beyond our shores for new markets. But it's not an easy step for some companies to make.

Looking to help organisations make the transition, Innovate UK – the recently renamed Technology Strategy Board – is hosting an event at which attendees will be able to meet some of the UK's most inventive and creative companies. Alongside exploring innovative ideas and discovering new export opportunities – courtesy of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) – visitors will also be able to hear from some of the most original thinkers in the country.

Dominic Jermey, chief executive of UKTI, commented: "The UK is brilliant at innovation. Innovation is recognised as a leading driver for economic growth. It fosters new industry developments and creates the environment to stimulate exports and inward investment. Innovation is at the heart of business growth. UKTI wants to catalyse innovation between sectors through Innovate UK 2014 and this year's event promises to be the biggest and best yet."

Innovate UK 2014 takes place at London's Old Billingsgate on 5 and 6 November. Its key themes will include: agri-food; built environment; digital economy; energy; healthcare; high value manufacturing; space; and transport.

Iain Gray, chief executive of Innovate UK, said: "The calibre of speakers and exhibitors at this year's event is testament not only to the UK's position as a world class centre of excellence, but also the extent to which we are supporting, encouraging and facilitating business growth through innovation and technological advancement."

Day One starts with a keynote address from Phil Smith, chief executive of Cisco UK & Ireland. He'll be talking about how UK companies can compete on the global stage, highlighting areas where the UK is innovating.

There'll be a workshop that will help you hone your presentation skills and a session during which leading companies will reveal the strategies behind their global growth.

Later in the day, you'll be able to find out more about protecting your IP in emerging markets, plus sessions about why you should think about transport and the digital economy.

Also to be seen is a panel session addressing design for successful innovation. Attendees at what is promised to be an 'inspirational talk' will get an insight into how design could improve their innovation processes and deliver return on investment. Those who feel that design is not relevant to their business should prepare to be surprised, it's claimed.

Early on day two, Dr Mike Lynch, UK business ambassador for technology will be joined by Simon Bullimore from the Open Data Institute to discuss promoting the UK's capability to the world. Hear how the Technology is GREAT campaign is promoting the UK's technical expertise and skills to a global audience. Hear also how your company can succeed overseas and how the initiative is matching UK companies and technologies to specific opportunities.

And the opportunities are there, apparently. Data suggests that £21.7bn of business has been won by UK companies over the last year as a result of UKTI assistance. Put another way, this represents 1368 business wins by 1252 companies. In total, UKTI has helped more than 40,000 businesses to export over the last year.

Those with some money to invest might consider sitting in on a session entitled 'How would you spend £100,000 on innovation for growth?'.

Natalie Horne, strategy director with Prime Decision, will lead an interactive session aimed at those who want to innovate or improve their results by thinking differently.

Delivering growth through innovation and achieving scale is a challenge for all businesses, both large and small, established and new. This session is aimed at innovators from technology, operations, customer experience and marketing functions within both existing and new businesses who want to challenge their existing ways of working.

Innovate UK's Gray added: "Having access to the right funding, connections and support is essential for businesses to succeed in today's global economy and Innovate UK is playing an integral role in driving and accelerating growth."

You might also want to find out about the opportunities available in the space and satellite sector. While this sector already contributes £9.1billion to the economy and provides jobs for more than 29,000 people, it continutes to grow.

Responding to criticism that academic research sometimes doesn't get to the people who can commercialise it, EPSRC chairman Paul Golby will chair a session explaining how the UK's research base can help companies become global leaders. Topics to be addressed include: why is the UK one of the greatest places in the world to do research and development?; where do the UK's particular strengths lie?; what are the areas with most potential value and how does the UK maximise this?; and how is the UK research base being made more attractive for engagement with innovative companies?

For more on the event and to register for the sessions of most interest to you, go to

What can you see at Innovate UK 2014?

On the agenda are:
* 80 speakers, including Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Science Vince Cable and Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex.
* The ability to discuss collaboration opportunities with the cream of UK innovators
* Visitors from 30 markets, including the US, China, the Middle East and Emerging Europe
* The Support Zone. Featuring RCUK, Nesta, the British Chamber of Commerce and the Catapult Network, the Support Zone will help you to find out what support and funding you can access.

Innovate UK 2014 will help you to...

• Identify new sources of funding
• Network with businesses and strategic partners who can help you find new markets and opportunities
• Enter new market segments
• Start up in a new region or country
• Understand IP and its importance
• Develop new ideas and explore new opportunities
• Find out how other businesses are succeeding
• Find out what investors are interested in

Graham Pitcher

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