Imperial College London

Innovation and community engagement explored by academic and industry experts

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White City aerial shot

Innovation leaders from across London took part in a discussion with White City experts as part of the Open Innovation Fellowship.

The Open Innovation Fellowship, delivered by London & Partners in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, combines world-class executive education with highly focused networking, peer learning and immersive sessions over a four-month period. Its mission is to make innovation in the capital, and beyond, more effective and inclusive.

With a focus on White City, the latest session explored the role of place in driving inclusive innovation and collaboration. Participants heard about the power of successful local partnerships and the importance of effectively and genuinely engaging local communities in their open innovation strategies.

The session brought together senior corporate leaders from Camden Council, Barclays, Vattenfall, NHSX, The Crown Estate, Crisis, MBS Group and RSM. 

It marked the latest of several visits to different innovation clusters in London, including King’s Cross, Canary Wharf and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to understand the innovation journey of each, and take away key lessons on how to successfully embed innovation culture.

Vision for White City

Professor Neil Alford, Associate Provost (Academic Planning) presented the vision for the White City Campus, where Imperial is building world-class facilities for collaborative research that transcends traditional academic disciplines.

By creating a network of innovation spaces for businesses of all sizes – major corporations, high-tech and high-growth companies, SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs, Imperial is fostering close partnerships between academics and businesses, at every stage of their development and growth.

"Collaboration lies at the heart of this vision" Professor Neil Alford Associate Provost (Academic Planning)

Professor Alford also spoke about the College’s partnership with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, designed to support economic growth, enterprise and innovation in the area. He said “We are growing a dynamic environment for academics to work alongside business and community partners to drive discovery and develop solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. Collaboration lies at the heart of this vision, and our unique partnership with H&F Council, launched in 2017, has been a key enabler”.

A flourishing ecosystem

Fellows, who are the senior innovation leaders on the Open Innovation Fellowship, heard from a diverse panel about what it takes to build an effective innovation cluster and ecosystem.Open Innovation Fellowship session  Those on the panel included:

  • Professor Deeph Chana, Co-Director of the Institute for Security Science and Technology and Co-Director for the Centre for Financial Technology explained how the Institute fosters and utilises the innovation cluster at White City to engage multiple stakeholders and advance innovation around security and defence. Find out more about the Institute’s ecosystem.
  • Richelle McNae, Entrepreneurial Programmes Coordinator at Imperial’s White City Incubator, supports start-ups throughout their journey in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She is a key member of Deep Tech Network, a networking platform between business and researchers around White City. The Deep Tech Network is organised by Upstream, Imperial’s Chemistry department and Imperial White City Incubator . The next Deep Tech Network event will take place on 20 May - Sign up here.
  • ­Dr Avi Spier, Executive Director, Head of Search & Evaluation/Region UK at Novartis explained why Novartis chose to locate in White City and why proximity is important for innovation. He noted the different ways in which Novartis has engaged with the ecosystem here. Read about Novartis UK headquarters move to White City.
  • Richard Broyd, Advisory Director at Blenheim Chalcot, shared his thoughts on the value of having a central hub such as Scale Space for driving business growth and accelerating innovation. Scale Space brings together Blenheim Chalcot’s venture building expertise with Imperial’s thought-leadership to help these companies develop by connecting them with people, services, space and resources – find out more about this new scale up community.

Co-creation with local community

Professor Maggie Dallman, Vice President (International) and Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) spoke about the College's civic role in the local community, and her team’s work with a huge range of local residents, organisations and businesses to deliver programmes around enterprise, skills and research and discovery.

Professor Maggie DallmanProfessor Dallman said: "The programmes at The Invention Rooms are designed in collaboration with local residents and organisations, and are often started in direct response to a community request or need.

Our vision is to include the local residential community in our activities, and the White City Campus provides a unique opportunity for us to do so. We want to build an innovation ecosystem with inclusivity at its core, supporting skills, training, science and jobs for everyone in the community."   

The team is also seeking to build networks of support to help inspiring community leaders and local organisations get projects and ideas off the ground.

A leading cluster

Janet Coyle, Managing Director Business Growth at London & Partners said: “It has been fantastic to partner with White City to deliver one of the Open Innovation Fellowship’s “Discover London” modules. We really want to show participating Fellows the importance of place for innovation and what better area to explore than White City which is creating world-class innovation in life sciences, tech and creative industries.

Our aim is to demonstrate the importance of collaboration and community between corporates and startups, scaleups, universities or research institutions to drive forward impactful and inclusive innovation across London. White City is a leading cluster doing exactly that.”

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Find out more about White City Campus

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Dan West

Dan West
Estates Division

Amna Siddiq

Amna Siddiq
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6709
Email: amna.siddiq@imperial.ac.uk

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