Trailblazing Tech 22

Wednesday, 29th June 2022

On Friday 24th June we held our annual Trailblazing Tech 22 event at the Lowry Hotel, where we opened our doors to welcome over 200 guests and of course not forgetting our virtual attendees too!

As the crowds quickly gathered it was time for some networking before the main event began. There was an instant feeling of excitement flowing through the room as we all eagerly waited for the event to start, it was safe to say that the atmosphere was electric!

To kick things off our CEO Sam Booth took to the stage (Queue the smoke cannons and Prodigy music) to welcome our wonderful guests, sponsors, and speakers. And without further ado it was time for our Trailblazing Tech 22 event to begin!

Our first panel of the day took centre stage with today’s first topic – Debugging the Buzz Words – Metaverse and Web3 – and what they mean for business. Ever since Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta, talk of the metaverse has been on the tip of people’s tongues. If you’ve been struggling to find a definition you’re not alone. Our host John Toon – Beever and Struthers and our line up of expert speakers Vlad-Andrei Porumb – University of Manchester, Clair Wescott – Fresh Digital and Dapo Ajisafe – Spac3d-VR helped shed some light to help our audience understand what that actually means.

Next up we had the pleasure of listening to Paul Knight – Mills & Reeve who took us through his eye-opening presentation on Digital Marketing – Who Controls the Data? Paul gave our audience some clarity on the murky world of GDPR and helped us answer the big question we all want to know the answer to, “where does our data go and is it safe?”.

We then welcomed our 3rd Panel with the theme Talent in Tech – Recruitment Robots and Interviews with an Algorithm with some interesting views from our speakers Zoe Wallace – Agent Academy, Amul Batra – Northcoders, Ruby Melling – GSI, Graham Donoghue – Sykes Cottages as we discussed all things from a recruitment point of view.

“A CV isn’t always the best representation of a person, the person you’re hiring should have the same core values as the company, don’t miss out on the hidden gems” A fantastic quote from Ruby Melling on how to hire the right candidates for your business”.

After a little coffee break, samples of some delicious snacks provided by the Lowry and some debriefs on the morning so far from our attendees, it’s time for our second half to begin!

We kicked off our second half with a topic close to all of our hearts “Tech for Good” – A Greater, Greener Greater Manchester leading the panel we had Rachel Kenyon – University of Manchester who asked our panel, how can we use tech to make Manchester a better place? Our speakers Alex Colman – HGF, Toby Nolan – Candle, Paul Jepson – Ecosulis, Azhar Quaiyoom – Qsustain commented on how they are personally using their tech to make a change on today’s social and environmental problems and how they aim to improve lives and the community around Manchester.

Next up… let’s talk about tech in Retail – Embracing Omni and Multi-Channel – As we welcomed our first all-female panel of the day and some great ambassadors from the Retail world! Sarah Bianchi – Arighi Bianchi, Emma Ford – Asda, Elizabeth Clark – Dream Agility and Angela Gaskell – N Brown. Hosted by the wonderful Martyn Barrow – MID Communications we discussed how retailers can and have adapted to Omni and Multi-Channel and what it means for business models and operations now and in the future. “We have to move with the times especially since covid people have that need to shop online, we have to give the customers what they want”. Well said by Sarah Bianchi, Managing Director of Arighi Bianchi

Speaking of powerful females; our next speaker was no exception as Lou Cordwell, Chair of GM LEP – Magnetic North took centre stage. As a big ambassador for the ever-growing Manchester, Lou openly discussed with our audience about the Innovation of Greater Manchester and it being a blueprint for success, what an exciting time for our city indeed!

And finally, it was the moment we had all been waiting for… After whittling our finalists down from 8 to 3 it was time for our Trailblazing Tech 22 Award! Our 3 top finalists took to the stage to showcase a live demo of their revolutionary Tech to our audience with hopes to be crowned this year’s Trailblazing Tech champion!

First up we had Dami Akinbolue & Dapo Ajisafe founders of Spac3d-VR who use 3D reality to capture and customise 3D assets. They took our audience through a live demo of their digital twin they specially created of our Trailblazing event space and gave our audience an immersive experience! Our audience were truly wowed with the advanced tech and its safe to say the 3D world we are moving into is mind blowing!

Secondly, we had Elizabeth Clark, Founder and CEO of Dream Agility who showcased her Trailblazing digital platform using visual AI specialising in e-commerce. They use visual AI to create accurate, relevant, multilingual product data from images. With their in-house build visual AI and Machine Learning they are able to help businesses triple their growth in sales and conversion for a fraction of the cost, I think we can all agree that this is revolutionary for the future of our businesses!

And finally, we welcomed Toby Nolan Founder of Candle who demonstrated his Candle App which is a platform that organises large groups into support networks for individuals who need help but can’t always ask for it. With one simple click on the app, there was a rhythmic sounds of phones pinging around the room which sent a message to signal “I need support”. Life changing tech to say the least Toby had our audience hanging on every word. “Asking for help should be as easy as lighting a candle”. What a powerful and moving quote indeed!

With the audience buzzing from our competition and some big decisions to make, we opened our voting system via our QR codes which we placed around the attendee’s tables, and it didn’t take long for the votes to start pouring in!

Whilst we let our audience debate their winner, we moved things on and welcomed our Fintech Panel with our host David Gardner – TLT and speakers Gareth Cleverly – Dacxi, Andy Taylor -Payful, Nicola Weedall – Hydr & Laura Pomfret – Financielle. It is hard to believe that not so long ago we still paid mostly with cash or even a cheque. A great debate as our panel discussed how technologies like embedded finance are streamlining processes for consumers whilst creating operational efficiencies for business.

Next up we welcomed Elvira Uyarra, Professor of Innovation Studies, Alliance Manchester Business School, Digital Trust and Society who took us through a presentation on “Can urban innovation districts be more inclusive?”. Elvira discussed some key issues in innovation district implementation from her own research as we asked do such city-centre innovation focused developments need social mission from the start?

It’s time for our last panel of the day and we saved a great one until last as our host Chris Maguire – TechBlast & Business Cloud took to the stage to discuss Cyber Security and the main question we all wonder, Is there such thing as too much security? Our panel of experts – Ed Hayes -TLT – Daniel Dresner- University of Manchester, Harman Singh – Cyphere gave their views on the Cyber world of today as they reached a unanimous decision, you can never have too much security!

And last but not least we welcomed our final speaker of the day Ant Morse – Virgin Media O2 to talk about the Future of us – where next? Digital Transformation has changed the way we live and work forever with a constant advent of new technology on the market daily. Our digital lives and the pace are changing quickly but the question is how will these new innovations and technologies impact our lives? Ant takes us through a journey over the last 60 years as we see just how fast the world of tech has advanced, it’s crazy to think just how far we have come, and the most exciting thing is what still lies ahead? And with that Ant leaves us our audience with one last quote “Observing the future for our future has never been more important”.

Finally, it’s time to announce our winner for our Trailblazing Tech 22 award! And the winner is…. Candle! A huge round of applause from our audience erupted as our CEO Sam Booth awarded our winners. We are absolutely delighted to have you as our winners it was most deserved and a big congratulations to our fabulous runners up, Elizabeth Clark – Dream Agility and Dapo and Damo – Spac3d-VR.

And just like that Trailblazing Tech 22 is over and what a fabulous day it was indeed! We would like to say a big thankyou to our wonderful sponsors, Tech Blast, University of Manchester, Alliance MBS, MID Communications. VEM, TLT LLP, HGF, Bruntwood, ABGI-UK, The Lowry Hotel, Latitude and to everyone involved in making this event happen we couldn’t do this without you!

A special thankyou to everyone that attended today’s event whether that was in person or virtually we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

See you next year!