Bournemouth Can Become An 'Innovation Hub' for UK - 2020Plus Think Tank

Think-tank 2020Plus to help Bournemouth attract new creative businesses to place the region at the heart of the innovation revolution. 

Bournemouth is well situated to become a hub for young entrepreneurs – given forward-looking leadership that encourages innovation, according to international think-tank 2020Plus. 

Social futurist Mal Fletcher believes Bournemouth can have a bright future as a regional hub of innovation, which is attractive to young entrepreneurs. He will be unveiling his vision of how that could happen to civic and business leaders at 2020Plus Bournemouth on May 15. 

Fletcher, an innovation expert, will spell out the factors that could position Bournemouth for future success. These include the current growth in the internet technologies sector and the need to develop research in cutting-edge areas such as nanorobotics. 

The key to success, he believes, is to create an environment that will attract forward-thinking small to medium-sized businesses and help them scale up their reach. 

However, Fletcher cautions that ‘innovation hub’ status can only be achieved through hard work and vision.

‘At 2020Plus we've studied the developments of innovation hubs in various parts of Europe and the US. Although Bournemouth is showing signs of attracting start-ups and entrepreneurs, its future in this regard is uncertain. The city has, in some quarters, a perceived lack of opportunity when it comes to new businesses, because of land costs, bureaucratic procedures and a shortage of affordable housing for younger people.  

‘In the international examples we've studied, civic, business and third sector leaders got together to establish a culture of innovation in which creative people could flourish. They set out to engage young entrepreneurs who would bring in the creativity and risk-friendly attitudes so essential to growth. And that is a key lesson for Bournemouth.’ 

Bournemouth’s future young entrepreneurs have two basic needs that town and district leaders must meet, he believes. The first is the support and stability they need to grow. The second is a culture that will encourage opportunity, inventiveness and forward-thinking. 

Leaders need to show these young entrepreneurs that Bournemouth is open to new business and social enterprise. And that comes down to more than just logistics and infrastructure. ‘It’s about establishing the right culture in business and civic life – which is the key role of leadership,’ says Fletcher. 

He adds: ‘Innovation cultures quickly go viral. They spread rapidly, particularly among the “millennial generation”, aged 18 to 30. These are the people who have embraced global digital communications. They’re eager to work with their peers on developing solutions and telling their stories. They’re looking for opportunities to collaborate in creative, problem-solving enterprises.’ 

Innovation hubs hold attractions for the ‘millennial generation’, including the opportunity to experience risk and collaboration, which are vital to personal and economic growth, says Fletcher. A good local example is Redweb, which is an award-winning digital design agency.

Bournemouth could also learn from the so-called Silicon Fen in Cambridge. It has a reputation for innovation in the technology sector, but it is its culture that is cited as a major reason for its ability to keep young graduates engaged in the region. 

‘The Silicon Fen has a reputation for people who are helpful to start-up companies,’ says Fletcher. ‘And that is something Bournemouth can easily emulate, especially given its Silicon Beach strategy and its added lifestyle attractions. 

‘Civic and business leaders in innovation hub regions recognise that young entrepreneurs are crucial to building the innovation cultures that guarantee a bigger future. Understanding the unique mindset and skills they bring to an area is essential. 

‘When enough leaders really set their minds to build innovation cultures, we see the emergence of innovation ecosystems. And it’s then that the tone of a region changes, from one of benchmarking and maintaining the status quo, to one which brings meaningful change for the common good.’ 

Mal Fletcher, who is the chairman of think-tank 2020Plus, will be speaking to civic and business leaders in Bournemouth about ‘Engaging the Millennial Generation through Innovation’, at 2020Plus Bournemouth on May 15 at Destiny Hub, 25A Elliott Road, West Howe, Bournemouth, BH11 8LQ, hosted by Destiny Enterprises. 

For more details, please see and 

© Copyright with Mal Fletcher

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