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Innovation week – June 2021 #LeicsIW2021

Innovation should be a key part of your business

Innovation - ipad design

Leicestershire Innovation Week 21 - 26 June 2021

This year’s Leicestershire Innovation Week was 21 – 26 June 2021 and it featured a packed programme of events looking at all aspects of innovation, big and small. From space to self-driving vehicles; food and drink, life sciences; women, young people and their unique approach to innovation. There was a universities showcase with the FSB and, of course, the Leicestershire Live Roundtable.

What happened in Innovation Week 2021

Monday 21 June

Leicester Innovation Week Launch – First Steps to Business Blast Off at Space Park Leicester

Innovation Board Chair, Dr Nik Kotecha, hosted this showcase for the opportunities created by Space Park Leicester, the recently opened, state of the art facility.  Prof Martin Barstow, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Space Park Leicester shared the project’s journey to completion and its future role in Leicester’s economic recovery.

Susie Imber told the story of ‘My Life In Space’. In 2017 Susie was the winner of the BBC2 series Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?  Our other speakers included Rachel Tidmarsh of Blue Sky International and Dean Cook of Innovate UK.  The Q&A panel was chaired by Chas Bishop.  Watch the video here:

Developing the next generation of Diagnostics in the health sector

The clinical experts at the University of Leicester and University Hospitals Leicester delivered a fascinating specialised session, identifying new R&D opportunities to drive innovation and routes to funding to de-risk industrial innovations through collaboration.


Tuesday 22 June

Innovation funding for microbusiness – with Lawrie Chandler

Innovation is the heart of a business these days.  But funding innovations is hard.  Here we showcased sources of funds to get businesses going.  With a focus on microbusinesses and sole traders plus those wanting to start out, we covered loans and other forms of finance to get Leicestershire innovators moving, including how to fund prototype products.  Watch the video here.

Innovations in Food and Drink 

Innovation is crucial to the survival and growth of every sector in our economy.  Food and Drink form a major part of the Leicestershire Economy, involving hundreds of jobs and products.  Come and find out how this sector is developing and what’s coming next.  You may spot a gap in the market and be inspired to fill it yourself.

Fashion & Textiles – Employing people: capability and connecting

Employing people with the right skills, managing and retaining staff is often one of the biggest challenges for SMEs, across all sectors. In the fashion and textiles industry staying ahead of trends and ensuring that the business is not only complying with the current law but exceeding the ethical and social standards required by the retailers and brands that they are working with is also difficult. Get advice at this session.

9.00-10.00am: Building an Innovation Community – Loughborough University

There is a vibrant community of innovators and support at Loughborough University.   This session explained how this works and what it can offer your business.

2.00 – 3.30 pm: Creative technologies for game-changing business ideas, led by De Montfort University

Rapid changes in the Creative Industries and Creative Technologies present previously unforeseen opportunities for businesses, jobs and especially for Leicester.  In this wide-ranging session, academics specialising in creative technologies demonstrated the wider applications they have for business.  Watch the video here.



Wednesday 23 June 

How innovation is transforming the way we travel  

HORIBA MIRA’s Head of Horizon Scanning, Anthony Baxendale, lead this fascinating event which explored the connections between hydrogen vehicles, cyber security, the issues around electric cars and how these emerging questions affect the skills agenda.

Researching and selling to new Food and Drink markets

This Business Gateway event supported one of Leicestershire’s key sectors – food and drink.  It explored innovation in the form of researching, entering and selling in new markets, including different retailer groups.

Meet the Innovators at Harborough Innovation Centre 

Innovation is county-wide and this event celebrates the many different types of innovation within Market Harborough’s iconic Innovation Centre.

Accelerator Start-ups – Where are they now? 

Some of Leicestershire’s recent start-ups shared their stories on how they got started and the progress they had made since.

Leicestershire Innovation Showcase – Shaping our Future

This high-profile event showcased some of the amazing innovative companies in Leicestershire; with keynote speeches from Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Dr Luke Evans MP and Professor Fiona Murray CBE, from the MIT Sloan School of Business.  We also heard first-hand from  business leaders about their innovation journeys, as well as a Q&A with an expert panel.

How Female Leaders Drive Innovation with Rachel Granger of De Montfort University

DMU supported an international panel event on unlocking female leadership for innovation and commercial growth in Leicestershire, and leadership cultures and practices that drive innovation. The event drew on the expertise of Dr Heather Melville OBE, director at PwC and Chair of CMI Women, Katie Palencsar, the fintech leader and director of the New York Female Innovators Lab, and Eileen Richards, the Chair of the East Midlands Chamber. Watch the video here.



Thursday 24 June 

Innovation Centres – your launchpad to success 

A virtual tour of some of Leicester’s excellent innovation locations which include LCB Depot, DOCK, DMU Innovation Centre and UoL Innovation Centre.

Zero Carbon and your Small Business – getting your staff on board

“Taking action on climate change in your business is more than just making simple changes in your products, services or operations. For changes to be impactful, they need to have the support and understanding of colleagues” says Dr Sandra Lee.  “To have an even wider impact, businesses need to consider how they influence their supply chain, partners and customers” adds Dr Andrew Reeves.

Rebuilding the Image of Leicester’s Fashion Sector 

One of Leicester’s most important sectors – fashion and textiles – has had a very tough time recently with Brexit, Covid and concerns about non-ethical practices in some parts of the supply chain.  So how do we rebuild and ensure that this sector thrives again, providing jobs and income for the city?  A panel of experts discussed the factors that may help.



Friday 25 June

Innovation Friday online: “Your competitors are adapting, are you?” University of Leicester, De Montfort University, University of Loughborough, Federation of Small Businesses. Hosted by Leicester Innovation Hub.

A dynamic event that combined the innovative know-how of Leicestershire’s three universities with the coal face practicalities of the FSB and its members.

Innovating at pace and with purpose:  Using Design-led Approaches to Accelerate Innovation

How to use tried and trusted design methods to drive innovation at pace in a meaningful way.