Scotland’s first national virtual innovation business summit attracts 1,400 delegates

Scotland’s first virtual innovation business summit has been hailed a success after it attracted 1,400 registered delegates.

Outside the 2019 Can Do Innovation Summit in Glasgow.

The “Can Do Innovation Summit”, which was held virtually for the first due to the pandemic, brought together entrepreneurs, academics, investors and innovators from around the globe.

In response to the Covid crisis, the summit was designed specifically for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to “explore opportunities, develop new and better business models, drive a sustainable competitive advantage and spark valuable connections”.

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The lead delivery agency for the innovation summit is Glasgow City of Science and Innovation. Core funders for the event are the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council, Glasgow City Council, Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Susie Mitchell, director of Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, said the event aimed to generate collaborative innovation opportunities.

“It’s been really exciting for us to see how bringing the event online has delivered on making it a far more accessible event for audiences across Scotland and beyond, particularly for our international delegates who joined us from as far as America, Africa and Asia.”

Some 50 industry panellists, keynote speakers and international contributors formed a full day line-up of discussions and talks around the themes of: journey to a sustainable future; recovery and resilience; workplace culture; advance manufacturing and digitisation; medtech and health innovation.

Highlights from the event included keynote talks from Lolita Jackson, special advisor for climate policy and programmes, in New York’s mayor’s office; Ivan McKee, the Scottish minister for trade, investment and innovation; Craig Foster, art director at Pixar Animation Studios; Chloe Demrovsky, the youngest and first female chief executive to oversee and expand the Disaster Recovery Institute’s international network; Dyan Finkhousen, founder and chief executive of Shoshin Works in the US, and John Reid, chief executive of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

Mitchell said: “In the context of the new reality in which we find ourselves, we heard from Lolita Jackson about the critical need to build a truly sustainable society with embedded an inequitable innovation at its heart.

“Our keynotes Chloe Demrovsky and Dyan Finkhousen advised that now more than ever businesses must be more agile, more open to adopting emerging technology and as resilient as they possibly can be by preparing and planning for the unexpected.

“Our concluding keynote Craig Foster inspired us with the inner workings and core components of Pixar’s peer culture to exemplify the importance of open, creative and collaborative working cultures.”

She added: “We must not be constrained by traditional thinking, we need to constantly challenge assumptions.

“Whether you are a micro-business, small or medium sized enterprise or a large corporate, ramping up digital firepower will now be critical across all sectors, but technology alone is not enough.

“Creative and empathic leadership, the right culture and mindset, as well as empowered employees, will aid recovery and help businesses to innovate the solutions to build a better tomorrow for people and the planet.”

Content from the event has been made available through the Can Do Innovation Summit website.

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