23 (118) 2016
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Innovation Showcase

by Ben Petter, director of international client services, Grayling, and Marta Paleczna, marketing and communications director, Grayling
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Bringing British innovation alive across Central & Eastern Europe

Independent research was carried out in Poland in June 2014 to assess how the UK is perceived by policy-makers and the business community. One of the standout conclusions was that, despite the fact that Britain was then – and still is – ranked the second most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index, the UK was not perceived as being a particularly innovative nation by decision-makers in Poland. This was acting as a barrier to innovative British companies doing business in Poland.

One of the main obstacles in addressing this challenge was the word ‘innovation’ itself. Not only is it one of the most over-used words in business and communications, it is often an intangible and poorly-understood concept – in Poland, and across the whole of Central and Eastern Europe.

The GREAT Innovation Showcase has been developed to help address these connected challenges. It’s designed to bring the word ‘innovation’ alive by showing people tangible examples of recent, high-impact British innovation. The Showcase turns what can feel like an intangible concept into something real. All of the exhibits are current examples of British innovation. Many of them have not yet reached the point of full commercialisation, but are on the cusp of doing so.

We realised early in the process that there were many options to choose from. We filtered them using four main criteria:

  1. Was the ‘innovation’ genuinely innovative?

  2. How new was it? Would people know about it already?

  3. How big an impact could it have on people’s lives? Would it have an impact in Poland / Central and Eastern Europe?

  4. Could we demonstrate the link to Britain at every stage of the process, from basic research to commercialisation?

The exhibits speak for themselves and tell a compelling story about Britain’s success in innovation. Amongst other things, the Innovation Showcase includes:

  • The Bloodhound supersonic car, a jet and rocket powered car designed to go at 1,000 mph.

  • The Raspberry Pi, a low cost (under £20), credit-card sized computer that was developed to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools.

  • A snake-arm robot that has been developed by OC Robotics to work in nuclear reactors and other places where it’s impossible, or too dangerous, for humans to work.

  • An operational satellite the size of a pack of butter and only 180g in weight.

  • A display showing how 3D metal printing has been used by BPCC member Renishaw to reconstruct the shattered face of a man involved in a motorcycle accident, and to print an ultra-light bicycle frame.

  • A battery and photovoltaic cell incorporating graphene that has been developed by Versarien. Graphene, the thinnest material on earth (just one atom thick), is ultra-light and stretchable, yet 200 times stronger than steel; it’s also the most conductive and impermeable material ever discovered. It looks set to revolutionise daily life in many areas.

  • MOM, the Inflatable Incubator, which was developed by a British student and can provide the same performance as first-world incubation systems yet is collapsible and can be packed down to the size of briefcase.

  • iLimb hand from Touch Bionics, the first upper-limb prosthesis which wearers can configure via a mobile application.

  • doppel, a new breed of performance enhancing wearable technology that works with your body.

  • The InSmart Artificial Pancreas, an implantable device with the potential to end multiple insulin injections for sufferers of type 1 diabetes.

The GREAT Britain Innovation Showcase is not intended to be a demonstration of pride in Britain. The objective is to generate discussions about innovation in context and to inspire. The Showcase is being regularly updated to reflect the fact that innovation never stands still. It’s been a big hit with the media as well as stakeholders so far, and there’s every hope that it will remain so as it continues its tour around Central and Eastern Europe.

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