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While we weren’t able to attend the breakfast session for the first keynote speaker (who you can watch here), we did get to see the second, later on in the day. The second keynote speaker at Venturefest 2012 was Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford University. He came to the event to talk about the prospect as Oxford as an Open Innovation Hub.

Will argued that we need to think about the ‘ecosystem’ of innovation rather than the lightbulb moment. “The whole is less than the sum of the parts”. Innovation is the product of a system.

The ecosystem approach focuses on understanding the linkages and blockages: interactive learning in open innovation processes and collective entrepreneurship. Venturefest itself is an example of open innovation.

But what does this have to do with Oxford?

Oxford is one of the top three cities with private sector knowledge based industries outside of London, due to the high proportion of market based knowledge industries. General Purpose Technologies generalise applications that have the capacity to transform themselves and, in turn, the economy. Interaction with them is accelerating them, we think there could be 15-20 in this century and Will believes that some of them could be produced from Oxford University. The UK needs to exploit these technologies in order to maintain its economic competitiveness.

We need to think about the ways Oxford can be mapped on public sectors. In order to make Oxford an Open Innovation Hub we need to build innovation pipes, think relationships and co-create. We need to demonstrate to ourselves and to the rest of the world that we can innovate ourselves out of a recession.

Extra reading:

  • Will Hutton is chair of the Big Innovation Centre. Find out how they aim to make the UK a global open innovation hub here.
  • “Streets ahead – what makes a city innovative?” Research carried out by The Work Foundation, formerly chaired by Will Hutton.
  • Links to all of Will Hutton’s research and findings about innovation within The Work Foundation.