On December 2nd, the Live Labs teams fully embraced our ‘Working from Home’ credentials by holding our first Virtual Live Labs Expo. The original plan of a live event has been postponed until 9th June 2021, when we look forward to seeing you all in Derby. Although no one got to shake hands with any of our teams and have a face-to-face conversation, the virtual aspect of the Expo did have its advantages!
Neil Gibson, our host for the Expo and Chair of the Live Labs Commissioning Board, kicked the event off with a warm welcome, followed by our keynote address from Baroness Vere of Norbiton. As Minister for Roads, Buses and Places in the Department for Transport, the Baroness was able reiterate the importance of the work the Live Labs are leading.
Next up was David Symons from WSP who shared his learnings on innovation trails and projects from a non-highway perspective followed by an introduction to the Live Labs programme from Hannah Bartram, our ADEPT Chief Operating Officer.
The eight Live Labs were introduced by Jason Pavey, who is the Market Director for the Atkins UK Local Transport Business. Each delivered a quick ‘elevator pitch’ before Jason launched into his questions. These discussions enabled the Live Labs project teams to turn the spotlight on the incredible ambitions and progress the Live Labs have made since the programme began.
After each of the Live Labs came the SME ‘Pechakucha’ section of the Expo – the chance for eight SMEs, who are working alongside the Live Labs, to present their innovations in a fast-paced and dynamic pitch. Both the Live Labs discussions and the SME Pechakucha gave the attendees a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into the innovations the Live Labs projects are delivering – from kinetic roads to plastic ones!
To bring the event to a close, Neil took the reins again with a talk on ‘Capitalising on the Live Labs’ - which included a Q&A session - and Giles Perkins, our Programme Director, took some time to discuss the next steps for the programme.
This three hour Expo was jam-packed with content and contributions from our DfT Ministers down to the SMEs and teams who are delivering the work – we even managed to squeeze in an interactive quiz! The energy and enterprise of our Live Labs was definitely reflected in the event!
The virtual aspect of the Expo meant that we were able to connect with more people than before, and following the event new conversations have been opened and new connections have been made. We can’t wait to hear the progress from all the Live Labs teams at our Live event in 2021 – see you then!