Building innovation ecosystems: Unbound London 2019

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Society is currently being shaped by innovation in the tech industries, and once a year thousands gather to network, share and exchange insight in London to shed light on the future of tech, and our place within it.

Unbound Festival, a celebration of innovation in the tech industry, provides a platform for 5,000 investors, support facilitators, influential speakers and start and scale-up founders, to identify the latest trends and insights shaping our world.

The festival, aimed at ‘Building innovation ecosystems’, lasts two days and covers six core themes: immersive experience such as AR and VR technology, Tech for Good, AI, FinTech, smart cities, and the investment and scaling up of startups. Held in The Old  Truman Brewery, East London, it hosted talks and panel discussions across two stages, with keynote speakers including Vice Presidents, Heads of Innovation, and Chief Data Scientists from the likes of Google, TFL, Citymapper, Vice Media, Uber, Slack, BT, and Channel Four. Discussions were diverse and in-depth, focusing primarily on the progress of tech so far, the key concerns arisen from such tech, and the implications of it for the future. Networking sessions, as well as a number of startup and support booths, annually give a wealth of professionals from across the innovation ecosystem a chance to form relationships. Unbound 50, a collection of 50 disruptive startups selected by Unbound as shaping the future of tech, also had booths.

Within the transport and smart cities talks, one of which was attended by heads at TFL, Citymapper, Uber and Drivy, the focus was on making systems more streamlined and safe through insights derived from big data, revealing stresses on different parts of transport systems. Micro-consolidation of freight and vehicle delivery through automated and more eco-friendly means, was also outlined as a pressing need. In discussion about private car ownership versus shared ownership, head of Drivy’s UK branch Katy Medlock outlined the importance of introducing the use of more shared-car ownerships, due to private ownerships causing tendencies to travel by car out of convenience, rather than necessity.

Other talks covered leadership and communities within work, and how adaptability and re-invention were vital traits for any business to survive in these rapidly evolving times. Re-invention of branding and values was stressed as crucial to keeping existing customers engaged, old customers coming back, and new customers interested. Re-invention also extended to internal ways of working, with a focus on flexible working models and how being open to different environments and hours can maximise productivity within the workforce. Among the many other discussions, other topics included the likes of unpacking the power of visual content, growing audiences with influencer marketing, and AI and the future of customer experience.

Technology and its application are integral foundations of society. Events like Unbound that allow startups and established businesses from across the tech health, science, infrastructure, communications and media sectors to share insight and lessons learnt, is invaluable to cementing a unified direction of tech into the future, internationally and within the UK.