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XpoNorth 2021 Online Conference | What’s on This Year?

David Paul


In the run-up to the XpoNorth event on the 16th and 17th of June, we look at a few of the interesting talks coming up over the two days.

XpoNorth’s 2021 virtual event will be on over the next two days, and there is plenty to be looking forward to!

The event this year, held in a virtual capacity due to the pandemic, aims to help grow the Highlands and Islands creative economy, bringing together speakers from across sectors to drive conversation and collaboration.

Several high-profile speakers have been announced so far, such as Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant and Black Sabbath’s tour manager, Kim Hawes.

Commenting on the event, Alex Smith, Project Manager at XpoNorth, said: “Last year, our first digital edition of the conference was attended by over 6,000 people making it Scotland’s largest conference at the time.

“With the superb calibre of speakers we’ve got lined up for this year coupled with much-improved interactivity and a wider scope of sessions incorporating wellbeing and practical business support, I have no doubt this year’s conference will be our best attended yet.

“The opportunities available to learn from some of the best in the creative business, network with peers and unite to discuss new ways of working in this period of accelerated change is not to be missed.

“I urge everyone in the creative industries from those just starting out to industry veterans to join us on June 16th and 17th.”

Driving Change – innovation, technology and new consumer expectations

One of the interesting topics from the day discusses how innovation and technology are driving consumer expectation.

Technology is now advancing more than ever before, but in 2020 we saw exponential growth in the numbers of businesses moving to adopt more ambitious digital strategies and integrate new innovations into their models.

This talk will discuss the ‘new’ customer, how their expectations of products and services are changing, look at new consumption trends and how businesses are adapting to ensure they can meet these demands.

Chair Tim Wright will be joined by:

  • Elena Corchero, Emerging Technology Specialist
  • Katy Boungard, Creative Strategist and Producer
  • Michael Rueger, Creative Director, Ravensburger Innovation Lab
  • Liz Rosenthal, Curator, executive producer and pioneer of immersive and interactive creative media

To find out more, click here.

Digital shared experience

We are particularly excited about a talk on digital shared experiences and how we can evolve the online experience rather than just utilising technologies that existed before the pandemic.

The panel will talk about moving beyond Zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live and asks how we can “truly engage, educate and entertain audiences through the digitisation of live events and cultural projects”.

The digital shared experience session will be presented as part of the Creative Digital Initiative, established to support digital change in Scotland’s creative and cultural businesses by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Chair Dougal Perman will be joined by:

  • Lisa Schwartz, Festival & Programming Director at the Philadelphia Folk Festival
  • Sarah Ellis, Director of Digital Development, Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Tony Currie Digital Producer at Scottish Ballet

To find out more, click here.

The future of retail

The past year has had a dramatic impact on the retail landscape. In this next talk, speakers will discuss the challenges that lie ahead in the area of retail after the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, exploring and considering the rise in online shopping compared to regular high-street shopping, and discussions around how small retailers can compete.

Chair Joan Johnston will be joined by

  • Nicole Vanderbilt, UK Managing Director,
  • Kate Hills, Founder, Make it British
  • George McNeil, Managing Director Retail, Johnstons of Elgin
  • Andrew Jennings, Senior Global Retail Executive

To find out more, click here.

Expert on expert: The future of work is stories

In one of the final talks of the event, Dr Edward Hoffman joins David Edwards to discuss their work in research, innovation and education, and what the future holds for us all. The pair will discuss the future post-Covid world, the importance and increased use of technology making and how it is making us more connected than ever.

Chair Jennifer Fox is joined by:

  • Dr Ed Hoffman, CEO, Knowledge Strategies, LLC
  • David Edwards, founder of ArtScience Labs, CEO of Sensory Cloud and Harvard professor

To find out more, click here.

XpoNorth 2021 Online Conference | Sign up now.

The XpoNorth conference will be taking place on Wednesday the 16th and Thursday the 17th of June online in a virtual capacity.

For more information and details on how to register for your place at the Conference, please visit:

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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