Digital meet up to drive innovation


Today (22 Nov) we hosted a ‘digital meet up’ coordinated by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Immerse UK which aimed to provide support, networking and a showcase space for digital and immersive technologies. Held at the University of Sheffield’s MindSphere Lounge the event brought together innovators who are looking for regional and national opportunities to grow their business by utilising immersive and/or digital technologies.

The KTN coordinate regular meet ups across the UK, their primary aim being to help businesses grow through innovation. Both Andy Curtis (Digital Economy, KTN) and Jake Larsson (Design and Innovation, KTN) spoke at today’s event about how the KTN’s hands on work provides a link between local and national support systems, helping businesses to navigate a complex innovation ecosystem. The KTN provide direct support to identify potential partners, access new markets and find funding and finance across a variety of sectors.

They also develop networks in emerging technology areas, such as Immerse UK, a KTN Special Interest Group (SIG), who co-hosted today’s Sheffield meet up and are specifically looking to explore opportunities in immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed realty.

Professor John Clark, Pitch-In Project Lead, used this opportunity to introduce the Pitch-In project, highlighting the opportunities and support available for businesses looking to adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. John highlighted that the project will be working with a number of organisations to identify and overcome potential barriers to IoT uptake, developing a sustainable network which is already engaging with many of the organisations here today.

“Virtual and augmented reality is highlighted as a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, the key is focusing on the challenge rather than aiming to deliver technology based solutions.”

– Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)

Rab speaking to attendees at the meet up

Rab provided a number of case studies ranging from large organisations, such as Yorkshire Water, to local family firms, such as Clarks Vehicle Conversion in Doncaster, who are using virtual prototyping to engage stakeholders early on at a greatly reduced cost.

Rab referenced a number of reports supported by the AMRC focusing on immersive technologies and digital twins (view the reports here).

Cordelia O’Connell from the Digital Catapult considered the key challenges blocking further adoption of digital technology including; lack of access to facilities/resources, limited ways to test new products and services and how to navigate a fragmented landscape.

Cordelia explained how the Digital Catapult are working to overcome these challenges by providing facilities and accelerator programmes, connecting large and small organisations, pairing up the creative and manufacturing companies to develop new collaborations, sometimes overcoming a cultural divide.

Ceri Batcheldor speaking at the meet up

Ceri Batcheldor (pictured left/above) discussed a number of roles she plays in the region to driving forward digital innovation, including work with the Sheffield City Region team and AMRC to encourage companies, particularly SMEs, to take up digital technologies and update existing equipment at low costs.

Ceri also discussed her role as Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Sheffield, working with a student cohort to assess how one local company, Tinsley Bridge, might implement IoT solutions to better manage energy use. Ceri referenced a number of organisations in the region which are driving the digital ecosystem, such as the IoT Tribe, Digital Catapult and Barnsley Digital Media Centre.

The event concluded which a number of three minute pitches from a range of companies working in digital/immersive technology including Holoxica, Octane, Load Pixels and Elements.

See further information on available KTN support and upcoming meet ups on the KTN website.

Find out more about Immerse UK at:

Follow the digital meet ups on twitter: #digimeetup