7th October 2023

Great Malvern, UK

12th Edition

#InnovateMalvern

About us

 

Conception

The Malvern Festival of Innovation was conceived by Dr Adrian Burden, a serial entrepreneur and resident of Malvern. Adrian discovered that amongst the national science festivals, business events, and literary / arts festivals, there wasn't really a platform to showcase social, technical and business innovation in one instance that was open for all in the UK. Moreover, Malvern would make a great place to establish such an event because it has a rich heritage of innovation in both enterprise and technology. Examples of this creativity include some of the oldest private schools in the UK (which created a paradigm shift in children's education), the first bottling of spring water for commercial sale (a practice that continues in the Malvern Hills to this day), the birth of healthcare tourism (with the famous water cure sought by ailing Victorians in London), the design and construction of the iconic Morgan motorcars (the last remaining family-owned independent British motor manufacturer), and of course the invention of Radar, LCD Displays, and Touch Screens at the local defence research establishment (now QinetiQ). Today Malvern is recognised as the UK's epicentre for cyber security, a vibrant community for social enterprise, and a growing centre for technology innovation in the tourism industry.

 

Inception

Against this backdrop, Adrian and his colleague Dr Emma Philpott decided that they would stage the inaugural Malvern Festival of Innovation in 2012. The aim was to bring together a topical but interesting mix of themes that encapsulate some of today's cutting-edge thinking. But also, being entrepreneurs themselves, they realised the need to include information about creating new and innovative businesses and to involve organizations that can help entrepreneurs start out and grow. In 2013 the event was extended to include a schools outreach event and a family show, attracting 50% growth in participation. 2014's Festival was larger again, with three business days, a full day of schools outreach, and a full day for the family.

In March 2015, Adrian and Emma founded the social enterprise Innovate Malvern CIC to organise and deliver the Festival with a view to longer-term sustainability. That year, the Festival extended over 6 days and comprised 8 distinct events engaging about 2,500 people.

In October 2016, the Festival celebrated its 5th annual edition with numerous events at several venues around the town. Established sessions such as the Business of Innovating, Cyber Security symposium and the Family Day were staged alongside new events such as Embarkation, Startup Stories and Creative Careers. The 2017 edition continued to grow along similar lines with an exciting new session called Automotive Advances staged at the Morgan Motor Company. In 2018, we had stand-alone business-focussed symposia on environment & sustainability and blockchains & bitcoins.

2019 saw the Platinum Sponsors business mix from London come on board, and we expanded the inspirational programme yet further with a series of filmed innovation shorts in the world's smallest theatre and a hugely entertaining science comedy night. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic almost stopped play, but we convened online with a series of Zoom and Facebook Live sessions for a variety of audiences.

In 2021 we managed to hold the tenth consecutive edition of the festival as a live, in-person event as COVID-19 eased sufficiently to reconvene. This was one of the first events in which people got back together again, although the omicron variant followed that autumn and temporarily halted other events from restarting.

In October 2022, Adrian launched his book Inspiring Outside the Box which looks back over the ten years of Festival highlights as well as some of what went on behind the scenes to stage the events. The festival also saw a Climate Emergency session, a Tech Day showcase in collaboration with the Malvern Hills Science Park, as well as the usual formal dinner, science comedy night, and Family Day.

 

Projection

In 2023 we are taking stock as how best to continue. Staging the annual event, as you can read in Adrian's book, is an exhausting task and not his day job! However, if nothing else, we'll put on the Family Day again, as its fun, worthwhile and relatively easy to organise.

Our vision is still for the Festival to be the UK's premier annual showcase of innovation in all walks of life; made accessible to students, professionals and the general public alike. In doing so, Malvern will be the place to visit each year to see great new ideas coming to fruition...

 

Explore MyTown Festival of Innovation

2023 Festival Sponsors & Supporters