22nd EBN Congress on Digital, Cultural and Social Innovation

25.06.2013 Blog

“Just say yes” was the motto of the congress we attended the previous month in the UK city of Culture for 2013 Derry/ Londonderry. A really interesting and inspirational conference organised by the European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN) in collaboration with Noribic. The 22nd EBN Annual Congress addressed the themes of Digital, Cultural and Social Innovation providing a series of exciting sessions and interactive workshops aiming to reflect the new trends and practices adopted by key players around the world. Moreover, different innovation villages, a world, a social, a cultural and a digital one, have been created providing the opportunity to the participants to meet with like minded people and create collaborations.

The first day started with a presentation on International Business Incubation and on dynamic and collaborative ways to think and act. The second day opened with an exciting and very inspiring presentation by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. followed by the first session on Social Innovation. Among the key speakers was Bill Liao, co-founder of the CoderDojo Movement, (http://coderdojo.com)  in Australia and Sir Tim Smit, Chief executive and cofounder of the Award winning Eden Project in UK,( http://www.edenproject.com/) who provided several interesting tips on how to become a successful social innovator.

The social innovation workshops took place during the third day of the Congress. Among the key speakers was Glen Mehn, Managing Director at Social Innovation Camp, UK, and Bill Liao, co-founder of the CoderDojo Movement who presented their own approaches to tackle the current innovation needs. They demonstrated how a local approach to develop innovation has taken on global dimensions and they invited participants to involve themselves in these social innovation revolutions or create their own. Louise Pulford, Head of SIX Global Social Innovation Network talked about several interesting issues but most importantly she referred to the increasing popularity that social innovation has gained during the last years. Several themes and questions emerged from the discussion such as whether social innovation is something new or what happened today and it became so popular? A very interesting approach to social innovation was also presented by Anna Meroni, assistant professor in the Polytechniko Milan in Italy. She introduced the DESIS NETWORK (design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability), (http://www.desis-network.org/) a network of design labs, based in design schools and design-oriented universities, actively involved in promoting and supporting sustainable change. She also presented a “framework for action” for designing and developing successful social innovation initiatives and projects. Susana Searba, senior consultant of SPI in Portugal presented several social innovation projects such as “my neighbourhood” (http://my-neighbourhood.eu/) and “Smart rural living Lab” (http://www.openlivinglabs.eu/livinglab/smart-rural-living-lab). Adrienne Rochetti, Co-Founder and CEO of Akimbo in New York, (http://www.akimboconnect.com/AboutUs/) presented the Akimbo movement which is an online community that allows users to create an online multimedia showcase of their work, passions, and life experiences to help them discover and present to the world, their best self. Akimbo’s aim is the empowerment of individuals to overcome the current issues of unemployment. The workshop finished with a very interesting speech from Joe Greaney, director of West-BIC in Ireland presented innovative processes adopted by Business Incubation Centers in their support of social businesses and social innovation, and talked about how traditional businesses can adopt social innovation processes and drive forward their business whilst keeping shareholders satisfied.

In general, it was an exciting, inspiring and very refreshing conference with a clear message: Just say yes. Say yes to innovation, collaboration and inspiration. And as Tomas Edison once said "There's a way to do it better- find it."

For more information on the conference you can visit the website http://www.ebncongress.eu/NewDisplayPage.aspx?pid=210.