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.
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 vision is 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...
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