Focus turns to the future as inaugural festival ends
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Over 1,150 people from across the region attended more than 40 events from 21 organisers as part of the inaugural West Yorkshire Innovation Festival, created by the West Yorkshire Innovation Network and coordinated by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
The festival has spotlighted innovation across the region as well as sharing insight into the support available to help businesses with new ideas for products, processes or services.
Throughout the week there was an emphasis on how the region can work together to adopt innovation, the importance of having a long-term view, a creative mindset and building businesses that can absorb and react to change.
Following the end of the festival, attention moves to the takeaways from the week and how collaboration and coordination between the innovation network – of private and public organisations, expertise, resources and support programmes – with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will support the economic recovery.
Entrepreneur and founder of Traveleyes, Amar Latif, participated in the festival and commented: “Innovation is about remaining open to unusual ideas, to the future, to the market demands, but most importantly to other people, because nobody does it alone.”
The festival included a range of events from businesses who are adapting and pride themselves on thinking differently, to academic research around embedding change and productivity, how businesses can work with universities, profiling the innovators of tomorrow, to the development of Space Hub Yorkshire and becoming a central point in the UK for the future of space.
Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the LEP and the NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “We know that innovation is an important and crucial strand to the economic recovery and the West Yorkshire Innovation Festival was an opportunity to show just some of what is happening in the region. There is so much support available for helping businesses to innovate, a wealth of opportunity for collaboration and learning and we need continued focus to enthuse, educate and inspire the future of innovation in our region.”
The longer-term vision has been outlined in the LEP’s recently launched Innovation Framework – Innovation for Everyone, to guide future activity, investment and support for innovation in Leeds City Region. It sets out the ambitious goal of building an inclusive, thriving innovation ecosystem where SMEs, entrepreneurs and individuals are inspired to innovate.
The Business Support Service available from the LEP provides several programmes to support businesses looking to innovate and the team of Innovation Growth Managers work closely with businesses to understand their needs, identify opportunities, and find tailored solutions to make the relevant support more accessible. This might be collaborative projects, the generation of new ideas, gaining new skills, accessing research, knowledge and expertise, or financial funding.
Connecting Innovation is delivered by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.