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Kickstarting 2011

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The best week of January is over. My networking titan alter ego was in her own element.

One of the most satisfying events was 32nd Intelligent Sensing Programme organised by Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network. Back in November, I happened to be sitting next to its Director, Phil Cooper, at the memorable UKTI Gala Dinner following the second day of Technology World expo at ExCel (for the first time in London!). We shared an interesting conversation about the needs of R&D intense startups and SMEs and the future of innovation in the UK in general, and stayed in contact since. I was delighted to be subsequently invited to deliver a pitch about GrantTree at Intelligent Sensing Programme, probably least technical among inspiring talks about recent innovations in the world of sensing technologies. It was well received though and generated a few enquiries from fellow delegates.

Neither of the two trade shows competing for my attention this week (Toy Fair and ICE) managed to win it completely. I had a great time being walked around aisles featuring bears puzzles and introduced to industry giants by Develangel (aka Lawrence Archard). After a few conversations (e.g. with Daniel Abdelmassih, Creative Director of Bladez Toyz or Andrew McKay, Development Director of Flair), it became obvious that behind the scenes plenty of innovation is going on in the sector, particularly to do with digital (e.g. toy helicopter controlled by an iPhone app). ICE, on the other hand, featured many stunning stands (and blondes with stunning legs). Quite obviously, in this sector one innovation is chasing another however, very little of it seems to be happening in the UK. Interestingly, nearly half of Earls Court’s vast hall seemed to be taken by gaming companies from Malta (which is known from its financial incentives available to the industry). A lot of development seems to be happening on the Island of Man, in Eastern Europe and, obviously, in the US.

Last but not least, I attended an interesting event organised by Figaro Digital in Covent Garden’s The Hospital Club. Figaro are a publisher and events organiser, bringing together most interesting players in the digital world. I shared a glass of red with Dominic Sparkes who founded Tempero (now 114 people strong!) eight years ago and tried to convince him not to go into the world of property after his exit. Afterwards I was mesmerised watching Jon Bains’s shocking video about “industrialised rape” crimes performed by soldiers in Congo (all to do with conflict minerals present in most of mobile phones on the market). Amazing evening, I will certainly be joining Figaro’s eCommerce themed event in March!

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