Festival of Innovation enthuses young and old

People from around the UK caught a glimpse of the future at the sixth edition of the annual Malvern Festival of Innovation last week.


The six day event, which ran from Monday to Saturday 2 to 7 October, offered a range of free activities, exhibitions and workshops including events for schools, business leaders and members of the public.


The weather balloon launch was prepared and watched by nearly two hundred students at the Next Generation Innovators schools’ day. The conditions on the ground were near-perfect, but upper atmosphere winds blew the balloon south faster than hoped and led to the Raspberry Pi payload being lost at sea in the English Channel. Students were able to see the journey unfold in real-time with live telemetry to the exhibition centre.


Another highlight was the seeing Riversimple’s Rasa car parked up at the Morgan Motor Company alongside classic Morgan models at the inaugural Automotive Advances symposium.  The Rasa is a hydrogen-powered eco prototype vehicle built by Hugo Spowers and his team in mid Wales.  During the session, he explained the pros and cons of the car and why he had embarked on its creation.


The cyber security day, full to capacity, showcased this burgeoning industry sector with presentations by experts from BAE Systems, Yoti, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and numerous SMEs including Malvern’s D-RisQ. In addition to the business delegates, the session attracted Masters students from the University of Warwick and undergraduates from the University of Worcester.


The weekend programme included a hands-on family fun day in the Malvern Theatres in which a live demonstration of 3D-printing chocolate from local company Avatar 3D caught the eye of many attendees.  Other highlights included Raspberry Pi computer demonstrations from The IET and the Wyche Innovation Centre’s Pi Jam club.

Dr Adrian Burden, founder and curator of the festival, said: “Once again we had a week of thought-provoking presentations and fascinating demonstrations of technology. Arranging an event like this is tiring, but it was all put into perspective at our Formal Dinner in Malvern College when extreme explorer Newall Hunter described how he had just a few days earlier returned from a fact-finding mission to Outer Mongolia. He was preparing for the first solo winter crossing of the Gobi Desert this November, explaining the kind of technology he will use (and avoid) on the journey.”

The festival is organised by the social enterprise Innovate Malvern CIC, supported by Malvern Hills District Council and with additional support from numerous sponsors.

Sarah Dawes