March 2017, Innovation Social held our fifth Innovation Stories – Innovation Social’s annual Summit.  The event was a sell-out with 150 people congregating in Brick Lane to get a one stop dose of Innovation inspiration.  

Nadya, co-founder of Innovation Social, kicked off the Summit with her view on how the Innovation industry has changed over the past 5 years.  She focused on Innovation's development - from tinkering in a basement to the commercial exploration of adjacent industries. The Innovation industry has matured and professionalised and it has been fascinating watching the many twists and turns it has undergone.  

After thanking our partners DigitasLBi and Source, Nadya then introduced Kristen Bennie, Head of Open Experience at RBS, to talk about her personal story of Innovation.  Kristen kicked off by talking about how her experience of Innovation had also gone from tinkering in a basement to integration within the wider objectives of the business.  She then went on to talk about five learnings from her experience as an Innovation lead at RBS including the resilience needed to be the change leader within an organisation as well nailing probably the best quote of the conference - "Good ideas are plentiful, good execution is scarce.".  Thanks so much Kristen for being our Innovation Stories keynote.

Lawrence Weber, Director of Innovation Social, kicked off Chapter One of the Summit by introducing three case studies of Innovation.  First up was Dan Efergan, Interactive Creative Director of Aardman Animation, who talked us through his learnings from experimenting with VR.  He focussed on two experiences - We Wait, done in collaboration with the BBC and Special Delivery, created in association with Google.  Both experiences taught the team the difference in story creation when working in VR from the need for multiple moments of joy that can be self-discovered as well as the impact of eye contact and the need to use it sparingly. It was a unique insiders view on how to tell stories through VR.

Next up were Tom Ollerton, Innovation Director from We Are Social and Sara Canavan, Product Owner at Domino's Pizza talking about the launch of Dom, the pizza ordering chatbot integrated into Facebook. They provided three tips on how to build an effective and useful chatbot and made the very simple point that the technology is simple, it's the character you create which is critical.  As the Domino's Pizza audience were young and mass they paid especial focus on the bot's banter, so much so they got a 10/10 on the Bot's chat from Comedy Central.

Nicki Sprinz, Business Director at Us Two, took to the stage to talk about Moodnotes which aims to help improve mental wellbeing by using CBT techniques adapted for mobile usage. It was a fantastic presentation as it unpicked the Innovation process from end-to-end: identifying a problem, researching the solution, creating a closed beta, iterating and improving, launching and then entering a process of continuous refinement. It was also done on Us Two's own time as a not for profit act of generosity which made the story even more compelling.

Lawrence then introduced Chapter Two and welcomed Richard Fearn from The Friday Club London to the stage to introduce four start-ups who are disrupting business. The start-ups presented one by one and were Martin Adams, CEO & Founder of Codec, Marie Outtier, Co-Founder of Aiden, Callum Negus-Fancey, Founder and CEO of StreetTeam and lastly Ben Porat, CoFounder and CEO of Pixoneye. All start-ups were impressive but Pixoneye deserves special mention as it uses the images in your phone's photo library to learn about and target you.

After a short break Nadya kicked off Chapter Three; a deep dive into Talent and the huge disruptions in employer and employee demands digital has brought. Nishma Robb from Google set the scene talking about the war on talent which is fuelled by an increasing demand for flexibility and autonomy as well as demand to work for businesses with purpose. Google seek to tackle all of these by empowering staff to experiment and not being afraid to fail.

Nadya then chaired a panel and was honoured to have as her guests Pip Jamieson, Founder of The Dots, Tolu Farinto, Founder of LFA, Nicole Yershon, Founder of Nicole Yershon consultancy and Ellie Harlow, Strategy Director at Source and Michael Islip, CEO of DigitasLBi.  The panel tackled a variety of questions and there was an overwhelming consensus on the need for diversity in work to drive creativity and innovation.  We also discussed at great lengths the rise of portfolio careers and their ability to enable individuals to grow and learn at a much faster rate. It was a fascinating discussion and a real highlight.

Chapter Four of Innovation Stories was introduced by Will Harvey, Director at Innovation Social, and was a wrap-up of the best of SXSW from the perspective of a newbie, Hattie Matthews Managing Partner from Karmarama, a technologist, Lorenzo Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at DigitasLBI and a creative, Laura Jordan-Bambach CCO of Mr President.  It is impossible to do justice to the presentations in this blog but suffice to say it revealed SXSW in all it's glory and also drew attention to new tracks - a government track looking at policy and governance and a kid's maker track called SXSW Create


Last of all we had our endnote Tracey Follows, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at FutureLabs.  Tracey did a deep dive into AI and postulated that AI is not about replacing humans but about moving decision making to the robots.  She suggested that AI could create culture and ended with a question over the ethics of AI.  It was a brilliant, future-facing debate on the implications of AI and the perfect way to end the event.  Thanks so much Tracey.

As well as the wonderful talks, panels and pitches at Innovation Stories we also had Demos - and a huge thanks goes out to Nathan Gaydhani from Cityscape Digital for demoing HoloLens and Tom Roope from Google Zoo who gave us demo's of both Tango and Daydream.

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There was one key difference to Innovation Stories 2017 - the day did not end with the talks as we had an exclusive dinner for 40 of the Socials at the Bompas & Parr Studio.  It was a truly out of this world experience, largely as the dinner, Celestial Dining, was inspired by the smells and tastes of Space.  It was a special, fun and lively evening compared to perfection by the man himself Sam Bompas. Thank you Bompas & Parr for ending the evening in such a special way.


So Innovation Stories 2017 came to an end as the bells chimed midnight - a very special and inspiring day and night.  A huge thank you once again to our partners DigitasLBi and Source.  If you would like to become a member of Innovation Social do contact Nadya on  And be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook where we are @InnovationSoc