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CAN DO Innovation Summit | Helping SMEs Innovate to Grow in Challenging Times

Ross Kelly


CAN DO Innovation

With only weeks to go until the new year, focus is turning to how businesses, and the economy as a whole, can emerge from the shadow of Covid-19 which has dominated most of 2020.

A free, virtual event being held on 3rd February 2021, the CAN DO Innovation Summit, will focus on discovery, resilience and growth to help businesses navigate their way through unprecedented challenges.

This Summit – a headline event of VentureFest Scotland – is being held online for the first time and is designed to be a focal point for business innovation.

Small and medium sized business (SMEs) will meet innovators, entrepreneurs and academics that can help them adopt new technologies, build progressive working cultures and access the right support to enable innovation-led recovery and growth.

The summit will see over 800 delegates and more than 50 world-class speakers mix on a virtual platform to help stimulate innovation within growing SMEs.

Global keynote speakers at the forefront of innovation are already confirmed for the event, and sponsors on-board for the Summit include the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI).

Confirmed keynote speakers are:

  • Ivan McKee, the Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation
  • Craig Foster, art director at Pixar Animation Studios. Foster has worked at the studio since 2005 and has contributed to many beloved animated feature films. He will be sharing how he embeds creativity and collaboration throughout all facets of his team’s work
  • Lolita Jackson, special advisor for Climate Policy and Programs, in New York City’s Mayor’s Office. She is the city diplomat for climate and the primary liaison to foreign and domestic governments. She is part of the team responsible for OneNYC – NYC’s strategic plan
  • Chloe Demrovsky, the youngest and first female chief executive to oversee and expand the Disaster Recovery Institute’s international network. Headquartered in New York, the Institute spans 100 countries to help organisations prepare for, and recover from, disasters
  • Dyan Finkhousen, founder and CEO of Shoshin Works in the US, is a leading strategist, entrepreneur and global authority on transforming enterprise operations with platform-enabled ecosystems.  Dyan is also partner and COO of Boston-based Platform Strategy Institute
  • John Reid, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS)

In a nutshell, the CAN DO Innovation summit will explore how businesses from all sectors – from healthcare and advanced manufacturing to construction and the creative industries – can build sustainable growth and resilience after the global impact of Covid-19.

Themes of sessions and networking will include: Journey to a Sustainable Future; Recovery and Resilience; Workplace Culture; Advance Manufacturing and Digitisation; MedTech/Health Innovation.

And thanks to the Summit’s SME stage competition, small and medium sized Scottish businesses will have a chance to share their innovation story with the event’s global audience. Those SMEs that win a five-minute slot at the Summit will also receive two days of support with an innovation specialist from Scottish Enterprise.

Winning businesses must be able to demonstrate how they are driving innovation through at least one of three routes: adopting new technologies or processes; building innovative workplace practices and forming transformational collaborations.


This is the second CAN DO Innovation Summit, following a successful inaugural event in Glasgow last year.

For more information or to sign up to the online event for free, please visit

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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