Leicester’s first Innovation Week has proved to be a resounding success with over 100 delegates attending days focused on the Food and Drink and Textiles sectors.
Expert speakers and local business owners shared their insights on how innovation creates growth and the importance of getting the right support from external providers, be it funding or expertise.
During the textiles sector day delegates heard from university professors and businesses including Byron Dixon, Founder and CEO of Micro-Fresh and Simon Platts, Global Sourcing Director at ASOS who talked about the future of the fashion industry and the importance of technology and innovation.
Simon said: “I’m really pleased to have been invited to Leicester Innovation Week. ASOS source a lot from this region and there is a lot going on in the city. It’s fantastic coming to an event like this today and talking to people who share the same aspirations around the fashion industry. There have been a lot of conversations about how we can improve things for people and our planet. Technology and innovation are absolutely vital to unlocking new ways of doing things.”
Food and Drink Manufacturing-themed day speakers included Andy Abbott, Director at Scionix and a Professor at the University of Leicester who spoke about innovation to reduce food waste and how this has led to producing packaging from egg shells, MDF replacement made from potatoes, and breadboards made from waste bread. Andy said: “It’s all to do with the chemical composition of materials that make them flexible to become something else.”
Shahid Sheikh, MD at Clifton Packaging Group Ltd in Leicester, also presented about how his business is continually coming up with new ideas for flexible packaging materials. “We work with many different clients and they often come to us with an idea that is simple and mainstream and we use our skills to offer something special and different that is not currently on the market. We never say no to a client and on more than one occasion have come up with an idea that has never existed previously, like our World Star Award-winning Hopcraft bag that we created for SABMiller to serve flavoured beers from the beer tap in a bar.”
Ryan Laird, UK Coordinator at Bake In Space Ltd said: “It has been great to network with local food and drink manufacturers and discuss our activities in the space industry.”
“We are a new company in Leicester, a city known for its strong space industry and food and drink manufacturing sector. We hope to bridge that gap between these two areas for the benefit of the city and make Leicester the space food capital.”
Rachel Wrigglesworth, Business Development Coordinator at the University of Leicester said: “Seeing real business people present is extremely useful as it reminds you there are enterprising entrepreneurs and business leaders in Leicester and Leicestershire. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to network, engage and collaborate with them.”
Leicester Innovation Week has been a huge success and as a result, the three local universities, Innovate UK and LLEP Business Gateway will be planning more innovation days for the future.