Invest NI urges local firms to embrace design and discover the innovation within

Invest Northern Ireland will challenge local business people to discover how innovation can increase profits and make their company grow, during Innovation Week, 14 to 18 May.

An extensive programme of events will take place across Northern Ireland, including Innovate for Profit exhibitions in Londonderry, Omagh, Ballymena and Newry. The exhibitions, taking place on Thursday 17 May from 8:30am to 10am, will provide practical advice to local firms on how simple process changes can help them achieve measurable results and improved performance.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, says that every local company can increase their profitability through innovation: “Innovation isn’t just about high level research and development. Innovation can be as simple as identifying areas for improvement in everyday processes and implementing straightforward changes, cutting costs and increasing competitiveness.

“We will demonstrate how local firms can make innovation an integral part of their business operations and how they can stimulate creative thinking within their staff. This can result in more streamlined processes and can produce ideas which lead to new products.”

The exhibitions will showcase leading innovators from each local area who have benefited from Invest NI support and demonstrate how they have made their mark within their respective sectors. Expert advisors will also be available to help companies plan how innovation can be applied throughout their operations.

Another of the flagship events during Innovation Week is the Design Driven Innovation conference, to be held in the main auditorium of the Waterfront Hall, Belfast from 5pm to 9pm on Tuesday 15 May.

The conference will highlight the link between innovation and the application of leading edge design, the important role that new technologies can play in state-of-the-art design and the impact of pioneering design on wider business, industry sectors and global communities.

The Design Driven Innovation conference features some truly inspirational keynote speakers who will answer these questions:

•International design guru Alberto Alessi, Managing Director of Alessi Spa and described as “the godfather of Italian product design”;

•Formula One technical genius Gary Anderson, one of the sport’s foremost designers;

•Dawson Stelfox, a leading Northern Ireland architect and the first person from the island of Ireland to reach the summit of Everest.

These speakers will set out practical ways in which any business can use design driven innovation to create products and services with high profit margins in an internationally competitive market environment.

They will also examine the role of highly creative staff, who are vital to this business model, and the role of product design, development and production within an environment that demands high-quality but differentiated products.

A three-day exhibition, “Discover the Innovation Within”, will be in St George’s Market, Belfast on 14 to 16 May. The exhibition is built around six interactive zones which address the six most commonly encountered challenges to innovation. Workshops which expand and build on the themes of each zone will be held in lecture theatre 2 during the exhibition.

Businesses in Northern Ireland which have export or growth potential, as well as final year university students and academic professionals can all benefit from the expertise and advice available during Innovation Week.