Imagine Festival under way

The Transport System Catapult’s Imovation Centre welcomed its first visitors on Monday as the two-week Imagine Festival kicked off with a “Policy Futures” workshop.TS Catapult’s Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Everett welcomed around 60 delegates from a wide range of organisations – including SMEs, local authorities, transport sector companies and universities – to the festival’s opening event.

“Today is all about policy and innovation,” Mr Everett told the workshop participants. “We want to explore how policy impacts upon innovation in the transport sector, but also how innovation can influence policy.”

With the purpose of the workshop clearly focused on promoting discussions and an exchange of ideas, the delegates were paired off at the start of the morning for a warm-up exercise in which they were asked to introduce themselves, come up with a joint project for their organisations and name that project – all in the space of three minutes…

Moving swiftly on from fictional projects to real challenges facing the transport sector, the next session was dedicated to trade talks looking at those challenges as presented by speakers from the worlds of academia, policy-making, systems architecture and think tanks. The rest of the morning then saw the participants being asked to come up with a number of “insights” aimed at helping the TS Catapult team better understand those challenges and, in turn, better support the transport sector in meeting them.

Having produced an impressive 30 such insights, the workshop attendees then discussed these in the afternoon session before voting to determine the six most useful insights. To ensure that the day was about action as well as dialogue, the participants then filled in pledge cards, setting out how they personally would now look to help develop the selected insights.

“It’s a superb venue, and there was a really good pace to the various sessions,” said Rob Bryan of BPE Innovation – a firm which provides legal and commercial expertise to the engineering and science sector. “Everyone was made to contribute, and that’s a success in itself. It’s important now though that it’s all followed through and that everyone who attended also feels that it’s being followed through.”

With exactly that in mind, the Catapult team will now be pulling together all of the suggestions (including the insights that did not make the final cut) as well as going through each of the pledge cards produced at the end of the day.

“It was fantastic that we were able to welcome our first visitors to the Imovation Centre today,” said Transport Systems Catapult CEO Steve Yianni. “The workshop participants threw themselves into the discussions and clearly found plenty of common ground, which bodes really well for the projects we’ll be working on in the months and years ahead.”

Two further events are scheduled before attention turns to Thursday’s official Imovation Centre opening. On Tuesday, the Imagine Festival continues with “Designing the Future”, an evening tech talk examining the role that urban design can play in promoting Intelligent Mobility. Wednesday then sees another tech talk, this time on the Sentiment Mapping project which is looking at using the feelings expressed by travellers on social media networks to assess and improve transport systems.

For more information, please see the Imagine Festival website: www.imaginefestival.co.uk

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