Speakers at this year's showpiece Biztech Christmas Dinner told of the opportunities coming our way in the so called smart technologies, including driverless cars being tested in the city from the new year.
Biztech – the business and technology forum for the south east midlands – believes smart technology offers great opportunities for the local economy and aims to spread the word to companies and start up businesses.
The Biztech Chrismas Dinner was held at The Swan, Salford, on December 11, with three top line speakers.
Fredi Nonyelu, chairman of Biztech, said: “2015 may well go down as the year of technology in Milton Keynes, when our well known spirit of innovation and blue sky thinking steps up to the plate.
“There are many opportunities for growth in the emerging smart, interconnected world. It's our job to spread the word about the endless opportunities 'out there'.”
Speaker Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy, Milton Keynes Council, spoke specifically about the city's win in the Innovate UK driverless cars competition.
He said: “This is a great time to be a tech company in MK because of our emerging position as a centre of innovation.”
Professor Mary Malcolm, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Bedfordshire, agreed that innovation offered untapped potential for growth.
She said: “The UK Innovation survey (2013) shows that new-to-market product innovation remains a relatively small component of overall innovation in UK business, constituting under half of the innovation reported to the survey as 'product innovation'.
“Enhancing and replacing existing products has been the business priority.”
She added that small and medium sized enterprises and higher education can help ensure that graduate skills are fit for the innovation challenges ahead by collaborating to support the development of student enterprise.
Ken Birkby, of Action4Youth, a Milton Keynes charity supporting young people talked about their work in the Milton Keynes community. Action4Youth is a major youth charity across Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, with 120 affiliated organisations, which have over 1,000 volunteers and linking with more than 10,000 young people aged 5 – 25.
He said: “There are many challenges for young people today, including lack of attainment in three R’s at primary level, lack of employment and under-employment, pressures arising from social networking and peer pressure. There are no easy answers. But we should all be concerned.”