Innovation is a key area of business recovery and growth in Leicestershire

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As we prepare for Leicestershire Innovation Week (21-26 June), the Business Gateway Growth Hub explores what’s in the programme and what innovation can mean for businesses of all sizes and shapes.

When they hear the word innovation, people often assume that it involves investing in hi-tech equipment to achieve massive change. But in fact, innovation can be very small and cost you nothing and still make a positive change for your business. During lockdown, we saw cafes and restaurants offering takeaway services for the first time, through apps and websites. That simple innovation kept those businesses alive and trading.

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals and chair of the Leicester Innovation Board explains: “Innovation is about thinking differently, developing ideas and identifying new opportunities, which often fill a gap in the market and in individual businesses.

“The Leicester Innovation Board was established this year to bring together leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as academia. It aims to create a long-term Innovation Strategy for Leicestershire, which builds collaborations, growth and opportunities and safeguards the future prosperity and productivity of our businesses, workforce and communities.

“Innovation takes many forms, but often it’s as simple as making day to day changes within an organisation to improve efficiency, productivity and performance. Building an ‘ideas culture’ within an organisation is also key, so every person has a role to play. Innovation alongside continuous improvement is something that every business, no matter how small, needs to embrace as a core part of its operations, to be competitive and continue to grow.”

The programme for Innovation Week 2021 includes a high-profile launch event at Space Park Leicester, organised by the University of Leicester and the LLEP. Dr Kotecha will be joined by Space Park’s Prof Martin Barstow, astronaut Susie Imber, and Innovate UK’s Dean Cook. The event will showcase the opportunities created by this innovative project, for businesses across Leicester.

Other highlights of the week include a focus on innovations in the way we travel, featuring HORIBA MIRA’s Head of Horizon Scanning, Anthony Baxendale. This event explores the connections between hydrogen vehicles, cybersecurity, the issues around electric cars and how these emerging questions affect the skills agenda.

Solvers Studio will be leading one of their Service Jam sessions over 25-26 June to explore
‘redesigning the High Street’ and welcome input from retailers, residents, community leaders, councils and anyone interested in the future of this valuable space. This is the only ‘in person’ event as all other events will be held online.

Other events focus on business start-ups, the role of women leaders in innovation, small business and innovation, the creative sector, food and drink, fashion and textiles and diagnostics in the health sector.

Jon Egley, manager of the Business Gateway, added: “It’s really important to say that innovation is not just for larger, well-resourced companies. It is just as relevant to the sole trader or micro business. Innovation has to be part of your business DNA from now on if you’re going to survive and thrive in the future. That’s why the Business Gateway event focuses on smaller businesses and the support they can find if they join one of our Peer Networks. Working alongside peers from their own sector and led by a professional mentor, they can create innovative solutions together that will benefit their bottom line and create a network that they can call on if we ever face another challenge like the year we’ve just experienced.”

You can find full details about Innovation week at www.bizgateway.org.uk/innovation The Business Gateway is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It is delivered by Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP).

If you are based in Leicester or Leicestershire and wish to take advantage of a free business review from the Business Gateway call 0116 366 8487 or email growthhub@bizgateway.org.uk

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