Last week’s Software Cornwall Business Connect Event, hosted at the Pool Innovation Centre, brought together 140 people from across the South West to discuss the future impact of Technology in the region. The varied mix of company owners, developers, designers and media gave the room a great buzz, making it the only place to be on a cloudy June afternoon.
The event started with an overview of the amazing things Software Cornwall have done in a little over a year since its inception. The organisation has taken great strides in connecting industry with education through its Techademy program and Mission to Mars events. These events would not of been possible without a wide range of businesses and academia working together towards a common goal.
The theme of collaboration continued into the presentation from Tech South West. Jon Hogg and Dan Pritchard spoke about the wider technology industry across the entire South West. The following discussion allowed delegates to put forward their ideas regarding the strengths that Cornwall has to offer to digital industries.
The 2016 Tech Nation report, which was mentioned by Tech South West and others throughout the day, highlighted the digital expansion that Cornwall has experienced in recent years with an astounding 127% growth. It’s a testament to the hard work Software Cornwall and other organisations have put into the area. Despite Plymouth has a thriving digital community, it failed to make it onto the 2016 Tech Nation Map, something that dampened the mood at a Digital Plymouth event earlier this year.
Following a few workshops, the day rounded off with a collection of 15 lightning talks from Software Cornwall members. Whilst they were all fantastic, Dan Goodwin’s talk, titled ‘An introduction to UK’, stood out for it’s sheer uniqueness. Dan staged a conversation between himself and his father, trying to explain what exactly UX is, using cards to prompt the audience into the father role in between laughs. In the coming months I’m set to start speaking at public events with a presentation that is (in parts) a little wacky. Seeing Dan’s talk get such a positive response has given me the faith that a presentation different to most can work.
As a student it was good to see some unique takes on STEM education in the county. Cornwall College have set up the ‘i am digital’ academy in collaboration with local thought leaders and businesses. It’s aim is to give students the skills that employers want in a graduate rather than overloading them with (often unnecessary) theory. Students who leave the program will be ready to head straight into employment or to complete a full degree at a partner University. It will be interesting to see how this program develops in the coming years.
As an entrepreneur it was good to see an innovative start up emerging from West Cornwall. Deko, from the Hi9 stable, is a new way of managing internet bookmarks. Through a simple interface it displays, and allows sharing of, upto 10 website links from the browser launch screen. Positioned as a cross between Snapchat and Google Bookmark Manager, it’s certainly an app I’m looking forward to trying out. Perhaps I’ll even be able to remove the hundreds of bookmarks that clutter up my browser’s chrome.
Being based on Plymouth Science Park (PSP), a cousin to the Pool Innovation Center, I was pleasantly surprised by the intimate community feel within the venue. Although PSP is home to around a hundred companies, the community feel that was present in Pool dwarfed anything I’ve seen north of the border. All afternoon people were popping out of the offices to get involved with the conversation, sharing both ideas and coffee whilst getting to know people. In contrast, after 14 months on PSP I’ve yet to have a conversation with everyone on my floor, let alone the entire science park.
Overall, it was a fantastic day with plenty of conversation, lots of new people to meet and an unlimited supply of coffee. It was also great to make connections with fellow business owners whilst sharing ideas for future projects. I’m more certain than ever that my decision to return to Cornwall after University is right for me. With so many opportunities for collaboration and cross pollination of ideas there’s never been a better time to be a part of Software Cornwall. If you’re not a member yet….. what are you waiting for?
By Tony Edwards