The south of England STEM sector is flying the flag for UK business around the world. Lara Bull of Business Innovation South Expo explains why the time has arrived to shout loudly about what’s already been achieved - and what’s yet to come.
I founded Business Innovation South Expo because I believe that the incredible STEM work being carried out on my doorstep deserved more recognition. My idea was to create a showcase which would bring these incredible individuals and businesses into one space. It’s been a long journey to bring that simple idea to life, but I’m proud to announce that on 12th September 2019 at Chilworth Manor Hotel, that’s exactly what will happen.
While it’s easy to explain my motivation for helping regional business, my journey to this point raises a few eyebrows. The question which I’m often asked first is: “so tell me, are you from a STEM background?” And the answer is no. This leads inevitably to the next question: “how then did you come to be driving a new STEM and business innovation expo for the South?”
Therefore, I thought I’d write this blog to explain the full extent of my journey, my passion and why I’ve poured myself into creating the Expo.
A varied background
My background was 16 years working for a specialist recruitment company that grew nationally and internationally. In the last 11 years, my role expanded considerably and so I looked after six core support functions while helping to expand to 14 offices. On returning to work after being a stay at home mum I then spent five and half years running a charity called The Rainbow Centre in Fareham, Hampshire - the last three years of which as CEO. We went through a crisis, came out the other side and with the team I built the sustainable income to 40% before I left as wider family demands dictated. So… no STEM background and no background in events either….
In 2011, prior to joining the Rainbow Centre, I created my own business, Phoenix Project Solutions, to provide outsourced project support to growing businesses. The challenge and achievement of helping people is what I enjoy doing. For me, it’s about knowing you have been instrumental in helping someone achieve a goal and I measure my success by watching their success/growth. This might be expanding/moving, change implementation, research - so many owners/decision makers are time poor and wear multiple hats that when key projects come along that can help drive their business forward they just can't see how it's going to be done. That is where I hope to help.
and Business Innovation South EXPO….?
The vision behind this new expo is very clear.
Many established STEM companies located in the south of England - the innovators, inventors, researchers and service providers - find themselves priced out of the London, Birmingham and European expos and therefore not given the platform they need. So first and foremost, they deserve their showcase. Yes, there are sector focussed expos in the region, but feedback from some companies is that on occasion you take your stand to maintain your presence not necessarily to meet potential customers.
Similarly, keeping up with the pace of change in the business world mean that many companies struggle to keep abreast of the latest technology and products to help drive their business while continuing to grow and future proofing.
A logical solution
Business Innovation South Expo (#BIS2019) aims to dovetail both needs, drawing businesses from a broad spectrum of STEM and innovation industries. It will give the exhibitors the showcase they deserve, connecting them with a new audience and allowing them to connect with other businesses and individuals who share their business challenges, all in one day... the perfect expo!
As well as the STEM and innovation exhibitors, key service sector providers from finance, law, cyber security, HR, marketing and web design will be in attendance, as will organisations such as:
• Hampshire Chamber
• Digital South
• Solent LEP
• The Business Magazine
All these organisations will bring their expertise, services and connectivity to the Expo. It promises to be a unique setting that helps both the exhibitors and visitors equally. And most importantly, it will shine the spotlight on outstanding work being carried by the STEM sector in the south of England which will be visible across the region and around the world.