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Centre hosts inaugural innovation and entrepreneurship conference

Welcome to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference at the University of Bristol

16 May 2018

The Centre held its inaugural conference in early May giving our students, staff and university partners the opportunity to hear from 21 industry leaders ranging from large organisations like Vodafone, Deloitte and Oracle to social enterprises like Balloon Ventures.

The Centre's mission is to empower people with the skills and knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship to make significant positive change; this conference is just one of the ways we have been working to fulfil that mission. The aim: To inspire students, staff and University partners with new perspectives from industry professionals from across sectors.

The first panel of the day focused on Securing Investment and Funding for startup ventures. The crowd heard from four seasoned experts that Dr. Tom Ellson (session chair and Teaching Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Centre) playfully likened to the cast of Dragons Den, including:

  • Steve Gatfield, Elmwood Design Ltd. 
  • Tobin Ireland Founder of Smartpipe 
  • Ambrose Cooke Founder of Fanbytes 
  • Jaci Barnett, Senior Investment and Commercialisation Manager at the University of Bristol

Their pro tips:

  • Acumen, honesty, clarity, first impressions count to investors, not just the idea.
  • Team is important: you are more likely to raise money as a team than as an individual.
  • The best way to fund a business is revenue. Get customers to pay you!

 Another expert panel, how to scale a start-up and continue to innovate in big business, offered advice for working with large corporations. The panel also gave a few insider tips on what they look for when recruiting including a mindset of persistence and embracing failure. According to Phil Bates from Oracle, candidates’ failures are more revealing than successes when recruiting into a startup. Panelists included:

  • Sir Robin Saxby, previously ARM Holdings 
  • Maureen Kaplan, Vodafone 
  • Justin Watson, Deloitte 
  • Phil Bates, Oracle 
  • Nick Sturge, Engine Shed (chair)

 Tweet from 2018 Conference feed

Keynote speakers Robin Tombs (Co-founder & CEO of Yoti) and Will Dean (Co-founder & CEO of Tough Mudder) shared the highs and lows of starting and growing your own business and offered insights into some of the key pivots and decision making along the way.

Tweet from 2018 Conference stream

Josh Bicknell (Co-founder and CEO of Balloon Ventures) chatted on stage with Dave Jarman (Teaching Fellow in Innovation at the Centre) about his experiences as a social entrepreneur - a reminder there are many different types of entrepreneurs, it’s not always about growing big.

The conferenced wrapped up by embracing one of our core principles: Make it Tangible. Helen Trevaskis (Social Innovation and Behaviour Change Consultant), Jocelyn Bailey (Social Design and Policy Designer and Researcher) and Dr. Simon Blyth (Teaching Fellow in Design Thinking at the Centre) led an interactive session challenging the audience to consider about how the inspiration from the day might provide clues to help imagine/create possible futures.

Photo of 2018 Conference wrapup session

The Centre would like to extend big 'Thank You' to all our keynote speakers, panelists and facilitators. We can't wait to find out what the next conference will bring!

PS: Pop over to Twitter #InnovationUoB to see some of our team's top takeaways from this and other Centre events.

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