Strong turnout for first Newcastle innovation conference

Newcastle University Business School joins forces with Thinking Digital to draw in top speakers at Innovation day

Herb Kim, left, of Thinking Digital with Eddie Obeng of Pentacle
Herb Kim, left, of Thinking Digital with Eddie Obeng of Pentacle

More than 140 people representing a range of businesses, big and small, turned out at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema yesterday for a new event aimed at helping them innovate.

Producers of the Thinking Digital Conference joined forces with Newcastle University Business School to organise the first Return on Innovation day, attracting some of the UK’s most talented and influential industry leaders.

Keynote speakers included Steve Vranakis, executive creative director of Google Creative Lab; Illicco Elia, head of mobile at leading digital agency Digitas LBI; and Pam Warhurst, TED speaker and co-founder at Incredible Edible.

Workshops were also held throughout the day to inspire creative ideas and look at how they can be used to improve businesses.

Roy Sandbach, the business school’s David Goldman Visiting Professor of Innovation and Enterprise, for example, sparked discussion on ‘The DNA of an Innovative Organisation’.

“Innovation is often considered in just process terms, with structures and methods at its core,” he said.

“But the creation of a vibrant, dynamic, risk-taking environment is also vital.”

Eddie Obeng, founder of the world’s first virtual business school, Pentacle, meanwhile, gave a keynote speech on the journey to innovation.

Other workshops entitled ‘Thinking with Your Hands’ and ‘Talent Management for Innovation’ allowed participants to develop practical techniques to make innovation work for, and become an integral part of, their organisations.

Speaking to The Journal half-way through the conference yesterday, Herb Kim of Thinking Digital, said: “It’s gone really well so far.

“The purpose has been to focus attention around the topic of innovation and bring in speakers to address the topic, but also to look at what people can do apply these principles.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of being both stimulating and provocative while also looking at things practically.”

He added that innovation was more important than ever for businesses across the board.

“People are having a tough time at the moment and businesses can no longer do the things they used to do if they want to survive,” he said.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer