The inaugural South Bank Innovation Business Connector welcomed over 120 local entrepreneurs, business owners and partners to find out more about innovative practice across sustainability, recruitment, and technology.
The Business Connector is a new event series for South Bank Innovation, providing thought leadership, insights, advice and 121 advice for our local community.
The aim is to help our local community connect with London South Bank University (LSBU) and partners in south London to forge key relationships that will enable businesses to thrive and individuals to succeed.
Each connector will focus on key topics that will help attendees gain the knowledge to future proof their business and careers, building resilience to the changing environment around us.
Our first connector opened with an inspiring fireside talk with fantastic contributions from:
· Astrid Wynne - Head of Sustainability, Techbuyer
· Pippa Palmer - Research Strategist, School of Built Environment and Architecture (LSBU)
· Prof. Deborah Andrews - Professor of Design for Sustainability and Circularity, School of Engineering (LSBU)
· Will Akerman - CEO and Founder, Connectr
The passionate discussion focused on strategies and approaches to embedding sustainability that will support business productivity while contributing positively to a greener economy. The panel were very much in agreement that we need to act now in order to prevent future damage and problems that may contribute negatively to the environment around us.
We also shared big notable benefits for businesses adopting a greener approach; with strong links to increasing sales and accessing supply chains, as both consumers and businesses seek products and services that demonstrate better value for our society and environment.
Our conversation further highlighted that how prospective employees are increasingly looking to work with companies that share their values, intersecting a positive impact on people and planet. At the same time employers are seeking emerging skill sets including ‘green skills’ which feed into future priorities of the business and more broadly align with UK priorities linked with a move to Net Zero by 2050.
Finally, we touched on recent advances in technology and how they can be incredibly useful for small businesses as a tool for growth, in part levelling the playing field. However they also do come with a cost, at least to the environment, given the large amount of energy required in their deployment. The sentiment of using such emerging technologies was nicely summed up by Astrid who finished with ‘just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should’ (referring specifically to the use of generative AI and its application).
The evening continued with three challenge labs, each focusing on a different theme - hiring new talent, developing your career and workforce and research collaborations - before we concluded with healthy amounts of networking.
South Bank Innovation will be hosting four more Business Connector events in 2024 where we hope to meet more of our local business community and develop new partnerships.
If you are interested in attending the next one or finding out more about South Bank Innovation and our services, please connect with us at southbankinnovation.co.uk.