As part of the London 2012 Olympics, the Mayor of London is currently hosting a series of four flagship debates aimed at addressing the major economic, demographic and technological challenges of the 21st century.
As part of this series, Josef Hargrave was invited as a spotlight speaker, both to represent Arup and to contribute to the debate on ‘Technology: Disruption and Convergence’. The lead question for discussion was:
“London has demonstrated resilience over many economic cycles, but what role will it play in the global economy as we shift to meet new challenges, and how can it incubate innovation?”
A large part of the event focused on the future of the ICT sector in London, factors influencing the innovative capacity of the city, and the wider role and evolution of London in the 21st century. As the highlight, Jimmy Wales – founder of Wikipedia – gave an inspiring keynote speech on the importance of trial and error (and crucially failure), when developing new ideas. He himself had multiple ventures prior to Wikipedia that were nowhere near as successful as his flagship site, but which still thought him a great deal about what does (and does not) make a successful online community; ultimately paving the way for him to develop a site that now ranks among the top 10 websites in the world.
As a spotlight speaker, Josef’s contribution focused on highlighting the importance of digital and physical platforms for fostering innovation. A digital platform – like Wikipedia – is a great example of a tool that can help people create and share knowledge globally, a fundamental ingredient for innovation. Kickstarter is another example of a platform that has started to transform the way individuals’ access the funds required to develop their ideas into real products and services; bypassing traditional sources of finance such as venture capital. In addition, examples of physical platforms that support innovation are London Hackspace or TechShop – a workshop space, where members have access to all the machinery and knowledge required to build and make almost anything.
To increase the innovative capacity of places like London, we need to develop and nurture more of these kinds of platforms, both digital and physical. This will support bottom-up innovation, empower individuals, and give people themselves a greater chance of developing products and services that have a positive impact on the future of our cities.
You can find more information on London Debates – including a video of the event – via the links below: