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Getting to know you at #TechSouthWest Science Park Exeter

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Monday while working on hooking up with directors in Exeter who like rugby for the Rob Baxter dinner…

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I bumped into Tech South West’s latest event…

But it was happening Tuesday morning… I had a 11am meet lined up with Alistair “Hound Dog” Briggs… wella, wella, wella didn’t want to miss either so I took prompt action… called the event organisers, all was good Jon from Blur Group said “That’s All Right” mama 😉

I got there a tad early as the nipper had a test and wanted to get to school by 8:45am… I figured I could have a tour of the Science Park Centre before the main event. You can just pop in and use the cafe for a meet up, alternatively join the Canope Club if you like broccoli!

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Got talking to Toby Parkins from headforwards who it transpired was one of the speakers, talking about keeping talent by respecting the individual & their needs. Obviously well read, or at least he’d learnt a bunch of book titles which he threw out to the crowd in a thoughtful, none arrogant way.

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Top bloke… loved his future vision drivers and the fact he runs his own tech festival “Agile on the Beach”. I’m getting a bit ahead, he was the 4th speaker but hey, you have to be agile in this virtual world…

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Dan “The Engine” Pritchard was the host with the most whose tweet it was that got me to the event.

He’s a PR man with a bunch of bling at Astley Media from his professional body the CIPR … but was he Social Media Week’s Social Media Personality of the Year in 2012 … nope that was me 😉 He did a grand job of keeping the event on track, ensuring I was able to get out the door and let the dogs out before my next meeting at 2pm in town.

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Philip Letts Chairman of Tech South West and CEO of blur Group painted the picture for those, like me, who were new to the area or just not aware of the scores on the doors.

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Almost 11,000 companies employing over 125,000 people on the tech sector in the South West… there’s some dots need joining up here to get them all singing from a similar hymn sheet and it appears to me this team have the energy if the companies have the inclination and can see the advantage of being part of the Tech South West community.

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Nick Sturge who leads the way at the Engine Shed… obviously Bristol Uni came up with that name after a meeting with Dan a few years back! Nick talked about joining the dots and his experience of bringing teams together… complicated process, especially if everyone is looking for a slice of the IP or a European box to tick for funding… it’ll be interesting to see how Brexit impacts on these organisations or if indeed it will… maybe the Chinese will just buy all the Universities, especially if their top scientist are just down the road… assuming Trump doesn’t get in first of course???

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Dr Tim Paulden took us back to school sharing a glowing report, top marks for his Sixth form where they specialise in Maths. Not being a straight A student I was wondering where this was going and then he brought up the slide about the companies that had set real world challenges for his students… now that resonated with me…

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With my Rotary hat on I ran the “Youth Speaks” competition in Windsor until we moved south… loved that… if kids can present to a group of 100 people, doesn’t really matter if they get an O Level was my thing, they will have the ability to be self sufficient… obviously if they can combine that with a fist full of GCSEs and A Levels, all the better.

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Tim mentioned the “Building Our Industrial Strategy” Green Paper which was also brought up by Nick, so maybe we should download and digest… worst case it will help you sleep at night!

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Tim was followed by Dan whose quality of life slide smashed it… crime rates, what crime rates when compared to London!

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And this beautiful infographic brought some superfast broadband light into the room for the next bit, the round table sessions…

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How can Tech South West best address its priorities for 2017?

  • Joining the dots – building a better connected South West tech sector
  • Simply the Best – showcasing and celebrating our tech successes
  • Teach Tech – promoting the importance of teaching STEM subjects to aid tech growth in the South West
  • Tech Transfer – supporting greater commercialisation of our regional research
  • Tech Talent – attracting and retaining top tech talent

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Interesting discussion around the table with everyone having a different take on what was needed based on their life experience and vested interests at this time… always the way… as someone once said to me, “Ask 12 solicitors and you’ll get 13 different opinions!”

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For me it’s about hearing stories from people who have done something well… like David Cook at The Donkey Sanctuary… be that economically or with more of a community focus… this helps inspire our thinking and can help us all move forward.

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Only those making the pounds, dollars or yen can choose how they spend / invest it… chasing government money is not the way in my opinion…

Let’s hear more from those who have made some moves and those with great ideas that need sharing so they can shine brightly too 😉

Thank you Tech South West for a most interesting morning and I’d best join the community >>>

Jon Davey
07717 820823

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