The Great Things event organised in Worcester last week to showcase some of the county’s most innovative business stories attracted widespread interest.
The jam-packed two-day event was organised by WINN, a Worcestershire innovation programme formed by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP. It was hosted by the Hive and featured a programme of workshops and presentations from the region’s most inspirational innovators across a range of industry sectors, including tech, renewables, science, finance and business development.
Stands included QinetiQ, UK Defence Solutions Centre and a range of aerospace, defence and security organisations. Education institutions represented at the event included Aberystwyth University, which is in the process of creating a £40.5m innovation hub, and University of Birmingham, which brought along a number of virtual and augmented reality demonstrations. There was also a strong presence from the training and business development sector.
Simone Robinson, of Google Digital Garage, who delivered one of the event’s keynote speeches, said:
"Its really awesome to see #GreatThings showcasing innovation and technology through the years. And its great to see #WINN are on it! Google Digital garage are delighted to come out and support this fabulous event and train people on their digital marketing plans."
Event co-ordinator, Jess Antley of WINN, said she was delighted with the quality of the workshops and presentations.
“We’ve had some really positive feedback and the workshops have made a real difference to the people who attended,” she said
“The interactive stands and the mix of support they are able to offer highlights the level of support available for Worcestershire businesses. The diverse mix of sectors represented at the event show the huge level of opportunity in the county,” she said.
The WINN Wednesday event included highlights from the Make it Happen challenge winner, and the latest on the Kiln - Worcester’s new co-working space. Work has already begun on a facelift of the city’s old Police Station in Copenhagen street, and a project manager and interior designer have been appointed.
Sharon Chance, business development executive for Coombe Electrical Equipment - a leading audio equipment business based in Worcester, was showcasing some of the firm’s latest innovations, commissioned by key players in the audio industry.“There has been a steady flow of people and it has been an opportunity to speak with like-minded people who are looking for innovative solutions to business challenges,” she said.
“The great thing about WINN events is that they bring the type of people who you want to work with together in one place. And when you’ve been going along to WINN events for a while it is reaffirming these interactions when you see potential collaborators in an event like this, which also has a social element.”
Greg Smith, co-director of F8 design agency, which is spearheading the Kiln project, gave a branding presentation at the event together with business partner and co-director of F8 Hamish Gill. Both were impressed by the deeper awareness of branding generated by the talks, notably by an initial branding workshop by Google.
Event attendee Owen Raybould, owner of Bitesize Foraging, left a glowing testimonial in the visitor book.
"I went to the talk on virtual reality because I wanted to learn something new, which I did. And 'Semolina Pilchard' was a surprisingly inspiring talk which left me thinking about how I can better advertise my value to the public."
Dave Morris and Rich Horton, director of Zentano - a Worcester-based leadership consultancy - said that the event was an “opportunity to talk with forward-thinking leaders about how leadership needs to be transformed within this country.”
“We can have all these ideas about innovation and how tech can transform our society and it can, but unless you have the leaders who can make it happen then the tech is going to sit on the shelf or we become slaves to technology,” said Rich Horton.
Workshop leaders gave their time and expertise free of charge and some are gearing up for further demonstrations and talks in the region, centred around innovation. Jon Downes, director of Glassfull, returns to the Hive to deliver a second workshop on Thursday May 31.
The next WINN event is Wednesday 19 September 2018 at Worcester Arena, and more information is available on the WINN website winn-hub.com.