Over 100 businesses gathered in the grounds of the Scorrier Estate on yesterday (June 26) for the inaugural Innovation For Business Conference.

Taking place during Cornwall Business Week, delegates attending the all-day event were treated to a glimpse into the future with key note speakers, Jonathan MacDonald, Richard Shotton and Prof Sa’ad Medhat in attendance.

The first event of its kind was delivered by Acceleration Through Innovation (ATI), a project led by the University of Plymouth and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The overarching theme of the day was ‘change’ and the importance for businesses to embrace long-term success.

MacDonald, headline speaker and bestselling author of ‘Powered by Change’, gave an illuminating presentation about the mind set required to create the most powerful and innovative businesses. He summarised by saying “success is about how well we change, failure is how much we don’t”. He later added that our responsiveness to change is another critical driver of success, explaining that whilst many businesses focus on the return of investment, most neglect to factor in the “risk of inaction” and the consequences of not doing so.

Another area of innovation explored on the day were the advances in technology, which is enabling process changes across all sectors, in particular within that of manufacturing.

Paul Gilbert, an Exelin manufacturing specialist, said: “We are now in a fourth industrial revolution.” He talked about how advances in robotics have moved from automation to a phase where humans are collaboratively working with robots. In the future, he says, we are moving towards “soft-bots and smart-bots”, the kinds of machines which are using artificial intelligence so that they can think for themselves, learn and do the things that are impossible for the human brain.

There was a wide array of high-level speakers, including academics from the University of Plymouth, who shared their knowledge and spoke about the collaborative work with businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The conference also showcased the emerging innovation trends which are set to revolutionise the workplace over the next ten years. Attendees experienced new technology and demonstrations, including: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and 3D printing.

John Hutchings, innovation fund manager and conference host, said: “This event provided a glimpse into new technology and innovation from all sectors and industries. In doing so, delegates could foresee opportunities and threats, and exchange knowledge that can be transformational for businesses.”

The Cornwall Business Week events conclude tonight with the 14th annual Cornwall Business Awards.

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