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Future Cities Forum's 'Innovation Cities' hosted by Here East

Here East on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford, East London is home to a thriving cluster of young tech companies, and university departments (Image courtesy of Jason Hawkes)

Future Cities Forum is holding its' 'Innovation Cities' event this week hosted at by Here East, at Plexal in Stratford. The full-day event will comprise of four panel discussions with the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, The Alan Turing Institute, the V&A and British Land among other speakers with a planning workshop run by Arup.

We will be looking at the growth of innovation districts not only in east London but in the North of England. Best practice in design for science and innovation hubs will be debated and featuring among other campuses, the new university buildings of UCL East. Questions will be asked about the role of data in mapping new innovation quarters in cities and the impact of AI on future research, and also on the curating of new cultural districts for the benefit of local communities. Finally, the planning of affordable housing connected to transport hubs and the making of vibrant, healthy places, will be considered by Homes England and The Bartlett as well as Populo Living and Hadley Property Group.

The event will opened with an address by the Infrastructure & Project's Authority's Head of the Commercial Adviser Team, Stephen Dance. The Infrastructure & Projects Authority published its Annual Report on 'Major Projects 2022-23' over the summer and despite the costs and impacts of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, it took an upbeat tone:

'This year's Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) snapshot comprises 244 projects with a total high life cost of £805 billion and £758 billion of monetised benefits....our increased portfolio is demonstrating clear success around our refocused approach to proactively intervene in and support GMPP's highest priority projects, as well as our commitment to 'front end loading'. This means getting the fundamentals right from the outset, so that projects are less likely to experience issues at a later stage....At a time of rising prices particularly in construction, innovation is key to saving money in the long term, and part of the wider government ambition to drive economic recovery.'

However, there have been criticisms that delivering infrastructure projects in the UK compared to Europe is taking too long. In March the Government announced that construction on parts of HS2 would be put on hold for two years and last week in the media (BBC) reports stated that the Government has refused to guarantee the future of the HS2 rail line between Birmingham and Manchester.

Where does this leave the growth of innovation and science hubs in Manchester? The North has long complained that there is insufficient modern transport infrastructure to support a growing economy. In March this year, major government funding for Greater Manchester innovation in materials, health and AI was announced. Millions of pounds was awarded to the Greater Manchester Innovation Accelerator, in order to boost the region's economy.

How are other cities in the North faring with transport connections and investment and how are these cities being planned for sustainable growth, housing and place-making for healthy lifestyles?

Professor Mark Birkin, Programme Director for Urban Analytics and Turing Fellow, The Alan Turing Institute and the University of Leeds, will be speaking at our event on the mathematical modelling of urban and regional systems. How does he see cities growing to accommodate both economic development and sustainable models for living?

Mark has a notable track record of collaboration, including ten years as an executive director of Geographical Modelling and Planning (GMAP) Limited. In this time, GMAP developed from occasional consulting projects into a market analytics business with 120 employees and global reach, working with household name partners such as Ford Motor Company, Asda-Walmart, Exxon-Mobil and GSK. An ethos of collaboration with external partners in business and the public sector continues in his current role as Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC), a national investment within the ESRC Big Data Network.

Joining him on the 'AI and the impact on cities' panel will be Professor Dr Hassan Abdalla, Provost of the University of East London. Professor Abdalla is an international authority in the field of Smart/Future Cities, Disruptive Technologies, Brain Computer Interface (BCI), and Autonomous Systems with over 25 years' experience in both academia and industry. UEL is conducting high-level research in the broader area of Artificial Intelligence (AI), ranging from Fintech to stock market prediction, to computer vision to inventing scalable intelligent algorithms to solve the large-scale big data problem. The department is also producing cutting edge research in the areas of insurance fraud detection, recommender systems, cyber security using AI, and neural networks. It also employs VR / AR to train students planning to work in healthcare and operating studio environments.

Liverpool City Council's Director of Corporate Development, Nuala Gallagher will also be joining our event. Nuala was appointed by Liverpool City Council in March 2023 and her role will focus on driving the city's economic growth and delivering sustainable development across the city centre and communities, including overseeing major schemes such as Anfield Square, King's Dock, Paddington Village, Festival Gardens and the Littlewoods site. Paddington Village is a £1bn flagship development site at the eastern gateway to Liverpool’s thriving Innovation District, KQ Liverpool. Owned by Liverpool City Council, Paddington is an urban village that has Science, Tech, Education and Health within its DNA. With places to work, live, stay, eat and socialise, Paddington is being developed in three phases, with the first phase, Paddington Central, already well underway.

Nuala will lead a team of 300 staff and will be responsible for a budget of £86 million, helping to create jobs and opportunities that are accessible to all. Nuala will also be responsible for overseeing planning, property and asset management, investment strategy, as well as skills, adult learning and environmental and sustainability policies.

British Land's Michael Wiseman will speak on our opening panel about the company is increasingly focused on delivering best in class space for customers in high growth life science and innovation sectors in London and across the Golden Triangle (London, Oxford and Cambridge) where supply is constrained. The company has a significant potential pipeline of lab space located across its Regent’s Place, Canada Water and Cambridge assets, and expects to deliver around 190,000 square feet by the end of this financial year.

British Land has also unveiled plans to redevelop Euston Tower through an innovative combination of retention, re-use and an ultra-low carbon new structure. The plans would transform the building into a pioneering, modern, net zero workspace for cutting-edge businesses of all sizes, including new world-class, lab-enabled spaces at the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter. Currently under discussion with Camden Council and other local stakeholders, the vision for Euston Tower will lead the way in low carbon retrofit and construction techniques, using inclusive design which creates high quality workspaces and continues to support the local community and economy. The current proposals will bring forward lab-enabled spaces for start-up and scale-up innovation businesses, as well as spaces for the local community to support education and training opportunities.

In addition, we will be joined by the Director of Strategic Advisory and Special Projects at Avison Young, Kat Hanna. Kat holds two roles at AY - advising public and private sector clients on a range of issues including master-planning, town centre regeneration and place-based investment, and working with leadership on transformation and growth, strategy and structure.

Avison Young's Life Sciences team has commented that time-to-market and funding are the crucial factors driving innovation and successful new pharmaceutical product launches, which in turn, require laboratories, vivaria, pilot plants and manufacturing facilities.

At Here East, the start of the university year has meant that a cohort of over 10,000 new students to the area are arriving to begin studies at UCL East and The London College of Fashion, part of the University of the Arts London. New university buildings have been overseen at UCL East by Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Paola Lettieri, and new models of working and collaborative research are being established. Professor Lettieri will be describing the ground-breaking new model university campus at our event and the research work that will carried out there..

UCL East's campus is opening in two phases. One Pool Street opened in autumn 2022 and features a range of uses, including student accommodation, academic, retail, community and public engagement uses.

The design of One Pool Street encourages innovative academic programming, as well as a range of events and activities. Performances, exhibitions, workshops and lectures will contribute to a lively and creative learning atmosphere. In addition to a centre for Robotics & Autonomous Systems, it houses the Urban Room, a major public and community space, but also School for Creative and Cultural Industries spaces - namely, a Slade studio and London Memory Workshop. Meanwhile, the People and Nature Lab uses the Park as a 'living lab', and the Global Disability Innovation Hub has relocated here from its previous base at Here East. The lower levels of the building also feature a cafe and shop to cater to both the public and UCL students and staff.

The second phase of UCL East campus called Marshgate features predominantly academic spaces, but also includes retail, community and engagement uses.

At the heart of the building is a central atrium that is openly accessible to encourage inclusivity and community engagement, with the use of 'Fluid Zones' at ground and first floor level to draw people into the building. Floor space above these levels has been designed to encourage collaboration and engagement between academic uses through largely open plan and circulatory spaces.

Marshgate houses spaces for the Advanced Propulsion Lab, the Manufacturing Futures Lab, Engineering at UCL East, the Institute for Materials Discovery at UCL East and The Bartlett at UCL East, as well as the Institute of Finance and Technology and the Global Business School for Health, which will cater to leading professionals' needs. The Institute of Making, a multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world, will also occupy space on the ground and first floor levels. The School for Creative and Cultural Industries facilities comprise a media lab, an object-based learning laboratory, and a suite of conservation facilities.

Future Cities Forum will welcome Linda Roberts, Director of Graduate Futures, Business & Innovation at the London College of Fashion to its forum at Here East. Also joining the forum's discussion on 'AI and the impact on cities' will be Matthew Drinkwater, Head of The Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion. The London College of Fashion has campuses on the Queen Elizabeth Park at Stratford and at Lime Grove, Shepherd's Bush.

Linda has gained a wide ranging knowledge of the fashion business from many years of experience in fashion retailing, marketing and product development, working for international brands including Jaeger, The Woolmark Company and Tencel, prior to joining University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion. Linda is responsible for the College’s enterprise and innovation activities through the Centre for Fashion Enterprise, the Fashion Innovation Agency, and strategic partnership projects.

Matthew is a world-renowned expert in emerging technologies and their application to the creative industries. A specialist in immersive technologies (XR/MR/AR/VR), he and his team are building pathways for a truly digitized world. Named as a ‘fashion-tech trailblazer’ by Draper’s and a ‘pioneer and a visionary’ by Wired, Matthew has delivered ground-breaking experiences and a range of projects that have captured the imagination of both the fashion and technology industries, including what Forbes described as ‘the first example of truly beautiful wearable tech’. He was also named as a "Digital World's Influencer" by Stylus for 2020.

London College of Fashion is moving to a new campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as part of a new development for London known as East Bank, the UK’s newest cultural quarter for innovation, creativity and learning at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

The College says:

'East Bank is a unique collaboration that is bringing the arts, learning and creativity together in one place for the local community and everyone who visits, lives and works in east London.

'We’ll be creating this campus alongside new sites for other world leading organisations including Sadler’s Wells, V&A and BBC as well as Loughborough University and UCL. We want to increase opportunities for collaboration and to build a different community focused on fashion but with lots of influences from our new neighbours and from the local area.

How have these universities and cultural institutions been working to integrate local communities into their activities and how can these residents benefit from educational offers? How will events and festivals be curated amongst high-quality place-making and public realm?

The Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan CBE, is highly experienced in curating such activities. She will be joining cultural leaders in our discussions this week. Claire has just delivered an unparalleled Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine using all her exceptional diplomatic and creative skills to deliver something extraordinary for the UK. Claire developed and produced the successful participation programme (Creative Communities) that was instrumental in Liverpool winning European Capital of Culture bid. In 2006 she was appointed Executive Producer of European Capital of Culture with responsibility for major events, public participation, and community engagement.

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), will also be speaking about the vital anchor role the V&A's two new buildings will have for the evolving cultural infrastructure at Stratford, as well as the work that the connections that the V&A has already been making with communities across the local boroughs.

Tim takes a strategic and operational overview of all museum activities, as well as directly leading the divisions responsible for the V&A's commercial and digital activities, exhibitions, FuturePlan, finance and resources, marketing and communications, security and visitor experience.

One of the world's most significant new museum projects, V&A East will comprise two sister sites currently under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. The V&A states: 'Opening at Here East in 2025, V&A East Storehouse offers a new immersive experience, taking visitors behind the scenes and providing unprecedented public access to V&A collections. A short walk across the park, also opening in 2025, V&A East Museum celebrates global creativity and making relevant to today’s world. Both sites are part of East Bank, the Mayor of London's £1.1 billion Olympic legacy project, which will create a new arts, innovation and education hub in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 'V&A East builds on the V&A's long-standing heritage in east London and our founding mission to make the arts accessible to all. V&A East is a new champion of creativity for the 21st century. Through the lens of makers and making, we will focus on how artists and designers work to transform our world for the better. We will platform diverse, global stories addressing the most pressing issues of our time and champion the pioneering and radical visionaries of the past and present to inspire future makers and critical thinkers.'

Please read our full list of speakers in our running order below:

Ø 0900 – 0945 Registration and coffee (45 minutes) Ø 0945 – 1000 Welcome and introduction - Heather Fearfield of FUTURE CITIES FORUM and Mike Magan, COO - Here East, with a UK government infrastructure and development overview from Stephen Dance, Head of Commercial Adviser Team, Infrastructure & Projects Authority

Ø 10 -00 – 1045 Panel discussion – Investment and place-making for world-class innovation districts Stephen Dance, Head of Commercial Adviser Team, Infrastructure & Projects Authority

Professor Paola Lettieri, Pro-Provost UCL East for University College London, Michael Wiseman, Head of UK Office Leasing, Innovation & Life Science, British Land PLC

Nuala Gallagher, Corporate Director of City Development, Liverpool City Council,

Kirsten Lees – Managing Partner, Paris Studio, Grimshaw,

Kat Hanna, Director Strategic Advisory & Place Strategy – Avison Young,

Eugene Sayers, Partner and Head of Science, Sheppard Robson

Ø 1045 – 1130 Workshop (45) run by Kathryn Firth, Director - Arup’s Cities, Planning & Design Team Ø 1130 – 1215 Panel discussion – AI: a brave new world for cities

Professor Mark Birkin of The Alan Turing Institute,

Matthew Drinkwater, Head of the Fashion Innovation Agency / London College of Fashion,

Gavin Poole CEO Here East,

Professor Dr. Hassan Abdalla, Provost of the University of East London,

Sebastian Bonneau, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland LLP (Data Centres & Digital Infrastructure practice) Ø LUNCH (75) Ø 1330 - Short address from Tim Reeve, COO, V&A Ø 1345 – 1430 Panel discussion – Cultural infrastructure, film studios and creative cities – training and jobs

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and COO, V&A,

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz – Leader, Islington Council,

Claire McColgan CBE – Director, Culture Liverpool,

Linda Roberts, Head of Graduate Futures, Business + Innovation – University of the Arts London,

Fred Pilbrow, Founding Partner - Pilbrow & Partners

Ø 1430 – Short address from Sarah Greenwood, Ass. Director Sustainability & Design - Homes England Ø 1440 – 1530 Panel discussion – Community and housing for a sustainable future

Sarah Greenwood, Ass. Director Sustainability & Design, Homes England

Steven Rossouw – Development Director, Hadley Property Group,

Ellie Evans – Managing Partner, Volterra,

Professor Yolande Barnes - The Bartlett Real Estate Institute, UCL,

Gavin Miller, Director, MICA Architects,

Deborah Heenan, CEO - Populo Living Group Ø Close - after questions - with drinks

External render view of the new V&A East Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O'Donnell + Tuomey. © O'Donnell + Tuomey / Ninety90, 2018


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