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Innovation – small changes, big benefits

Innovation should be a key part of your business

Innovation - ipad design

Leicestershire Innovation Week 21 - 25 June 2021

This year’s Leicestershire Innovation Week is 21 – 25 June 2021 and it features 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, music, service jam; women, young people and their unique approach to innovation. A universities showcase, plus the official opening of the brand new textile hub and, of course, the Leicestershire Live Innovation Awards.

What's coming in Innovation Week 2021

The calendar of events is being formulated and here are some highlights:

Monday 21 June

8.30 – 10.00 am: Leicester Innovation Week Launch – First Steps to Business Blast Off

Innovation Board Chair, Dr Nik Kotecha, welcomes you to this showcase for the opportunities created by Space Park Leicester, the recently opened, state of the art facility.  Prof Martin Barstow, Chief Executive of Leicester Space Park shares the project’s journey to completion and its future role in Leicester’s economic recovery.

Susie Imber tells 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 include Rachel Tidmarsh of Blue Sky International and Dean Cook of Innovate UK.  The Q&A panel will be chaired by Chas Bishop.

1.00 – 2.30pm: Developing the next generation of Diagnostics in the health sector

A group of experts from the University of Leicester share their work.

Tuesday 22 June

2.00 – 3.30 pm: Innovation Challenges for the Creative Industry, led by De Montfort University

Wednesday 23 June 

9.30 – 11.00 am: The role of innovation in the way we travel  

Horiba Mira’s Head of Horizon Scanning, Anthony Baxendale, leads this fascinating event which will explore the connections between hydrogen vehicles, cyber security, the issues around electric cars and how these emerging questions affect the skills agenda.

10.00 – 12.00 pm: Researching and selling to new Food and Drink markets

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

12.00 – 1.30 pm: Meet the Innovators at Harborough Innovation Centre 

5.30 – 7.00 pm: Women Innovators with Rachel Granger of De Montfort University

Thursday 24 June 

9.30 – 10.30 am: Your Small Business and Innovation 9.30 – 10.30 am with Business Gateway. 

Chaired by Sonia Baigent from Leicestershire Innovation Board.

6.00 – 9.00 pm: Leicestershire Live Innovation Awards, Reach Plc

Friday 25 June

10.00 am – 1.00 pm: Innovation Friday: Power of 3 University of Leicester, De Montfort University, University of Loughborough, Leicester Innovation Hub.

Hosted by: Julian Bowrey, Innovate UK

2.00 -3.30 pm: Service Jam from Solvers Studio

Saturday 26 June

2.00 -3.30 pm Service Jam from Solvers Studio 


What does innovation mean to you?

People often assume that innovation means investing in hi-tech equipment to achieve massive change.  But in fact innovation can be very small and cost you nothing and still make a positive change for your business.

It’s about thinking differently, making changes in processes to improve their efficiency and reduce your costs.  Or responding to customer needs and boosting your bottom line.  When we talk about innovation, we mean innovation that matters to your small or medium sized business so please read on….

The Innovation Board

Because we believe that innovation is crucial to the survival and growth of the business sector in Leicester/shire, we have created an Innovation Board to drive it forward.  Our chair is Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, of Morningside Pharmaceuticals.  Andy Reed OBE, Director of Sajeimpact is vice-chair.  Other members include Anil Majithia whose interest is transformative changes in business and technology; Rachel Tidmarsh of Blue Sky International; Paul Wright of Dunelm; Dr Anthony Baxendale of Horiba Mira whose interest is carbon neutral vehicles; Stuart Hetheringon of Holovis.

Dennis Hayter of Intelligent Energy is joined by Avta Singh of Pepsico and Mike Boswell of Plastribution.  Ultimate Web/Leicester Startups CEO, Ben Ravilious and Aristec’s Sajjad Khan add their expertise to that of Sandra Wiggins of DPI and Charlotte Horobin of Make UK.  Julian Bowery of Innovate UK and Stephen Grubb of Nat West are joined by representatives of Leicestershire’s three universities and other staff from BEIS and the LLEP.

Why do our business sectors need to think innovation?


The world is changing - are you?

The world is changing and so are your customers. They expect to find you online so that they can order what they need whenever they have time during their busy lives. If you have a website, is it performing to the optimum and enabling you to reach new, global markets? Are you able to make use of online platforms like Just Eat and Etsy, or would you prefer to ignore digital developments?


It's not (necessarily) about hi-tech solutions

Innovations can be space-aged, we have those in Leicester. Or they can be as simple as making stamps self-adhesive. Mobile coffee vans are an innovation and so is oat milk. Video replay at the rugby is an innovation and so is using recycled waste to make furniture. Innovation is a way of thinking that can apply to every aspect of life and business.


Leicestershire Innovation Week and Beyond

The first big celebration of innovation, once we are out of lockdown, will be Leicestershire Innovation Week 21 -25 June with events all across the city and county. There will be a full programme here soon, so you can book tickets to all of the events. And after Innovation Week has finished, we will continue to promote and encourage innovation in our Leicester/shire's businesses.


I already have an innovative idea - what do I do?

That's brilliant! Why not get in touch with one of the Growth Hub's business advisers and they can advise about how you might make your idea a reality. If they can't help with all the details, they will use on of our external experts who can.