What Innovation Festival needed in 2020 - and where it is now

George Oliver

Mar 10


min read

Three years ago this month I wrote an article for LeicestershireLive summarising where I felt future opportunity lay for Leicestershire Innovation Week.

Back then, I was Editor of the Leicester Mercury and had spent the week attending various events of the then week-long festival.

The common thread I heard referenced at the time was the opportunity that lay around improved comms.

Therefore, my fundamental argument (made at University of Leicester’s Innovation Friday) was that communication was essential in winning over people with ideas in order to address the region’s productivity challenge.

Fast-forward three years, and we are wrapping up the record-breaking (and now fortnight-long) Leicestershire Innovation Festival 2023.

What has been achieved by the LLEP Innovation Board and Steering Group over the intervening period is sizable.

In no particular order:

  • Completion of MIT REAP
  • Formation of the Innovation Board
  • Completion of a regional Innovation Strategy
  • Drafting and sign-off of a 10-point Delivery Plan
  • Launch of a new Innovative Leicestershire brand
  • Development of a new website - linked to the Government’s Levelling Up pages within two weeks of going live
  • More than 1,200 registrations at Leicestershire Innovation Festival 2023
  • A packed launch event at Loughborough University Stadium
  • A sold-out fifth LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards at the National Space Centre
  • A keynote speech from Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee.
The launch of LIF2023 (Credit: Will Johnston)

There’s been many more good things happening with the innovation agenda over the last couple of years.

And what it has done is move the Innovation Board’s vision forward into something far more tangible and cohesive.

Things are being seen to be happening. And that is generating further interest and offers of support. 

One example of this has been this year’s pre-festival event at the new Barclays Eagle Lab in DMU’s Innovation Centre.

Another is the event planned by LATI in Loughborough which was (I believe) the first time the festival has had a fringe!

A third lies in the 23 posts created or shared by Innovate UK during the festival - all describing what’s happening here in Leicester and Leicestershire.

One of the posts from Innovate UK during LIF2023

The communication is resonating and the four simplified messages that form our campaign are beginning to land with a wider audience than we had in 2020.

For those who have yet to see those messages, take a look at the new Innovative Leicestershire website to see for yourself!

The challenge now is to maintain and broaden the communication so that the innovation message reaches the businesses with fewer than 10 employees which make up the vast majority of businesses in our region.

That is how everyone can benefit from gains in productivity - and it’s how the Innovation Board will achieve its ultimate goal of growing our local economy at 5% ahead of the national average.

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