Yesterday saw Williams partner with Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to host a new invitation only conference entitled “Accelerating British Innovation Through Cross-Industry Collaboration” at the Williams headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire.
200 delegates attended the event and included representatives from major corporations such as Siemens, BP and Thales; technology start-ups; investors; and media opinion formers. This wide range of professionals came together to discuss through expert briefings and panel discussions how cross-industry technology and knowledge sharing can accelerate innovation.
The conference placed a particular focus on discussing key societal challenge areas in which the UK can take a global lead. Topics debated included the future of the car and its role in smart cities; demand side energy innovation to ensure that we cut greenhouse gas emissions whilst keeping the lights on; how to turn emerging technologies into successful industrial products; and whether the UK “funding gap” has been closed for British innovators. The event also saw 19 Innovate UK-funded companies showcase to delegates innovations that are recognised as having exciting cross-cutting applications.
Best known for its success in Formula One racing, Williams has also become a leader in the transfer of technologies from motorsport into a range market sectors following the establishment of Williams Advanced Engineering in 2010. The business focuses on taking technology and know-how from Formula One into the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, defence and energy sectors, with a particular focus on developing new products for customers that are energy efficient but do not compromise on style or performance. Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, opened the conference with an introduction to Williams’s diversification strategy and an insight into the how cross-sectoral innovation works in practice - referencing recent projects with the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Sainsbury’s, and General Dynamics.
Speaking about the conference Craig Wilson said; “We are proud to be associated with Innovate UK and its mission to accelerate Britain’s economic growth through innovation. Today was an opportunity to get innovation professionals from a range of different industries together in one room to discuss and debate how we are each tackling important global issues. It’s through this open dialogue that we can learn from each other’s approaches and explore ways in which we can work together to achieve common goals. It’s not often that you get major corporates, SME’s, financiers and academia all together to share their experiences on the same topic and it has led to some fascinating insights and opportunities.”
Kevin Baughan, Director of Technology and Innovation, Innovate UK commented; “"Innovate UK exists to fund and connect companies and ideas, to drive productivity and create the jobs of tomorrow. Key to this, is seeing what industries can learn from each other. Frequently an idea from one sector can meet the challenges of another and often a small company will come up with a solution that a major company can take on board.
"It is this cross-cutting creativity that Innovate UK and Williams are determined to drive forward at today’s event and in the future. By linking up with companies large and small and unleashing their ideas to address technological and societal challenges, the UK is poised the reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution."