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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Local Entrepreneurs Flock to Funding Seminar

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Over 120 local inventors, entrepreneurs, artists and businesses attended the ‘Funding for Innovation’ seminar at the Millennium Galleries on Friday 11th June. The seminar was led by Meg and included speakers from NESTA, Beer and Partners, Inspiral and the local Business Link. It was one of a series around the country organised by NESTA - the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts - with a view to bringing together innovative individuals and small businesses together with people who may be able to fund them. Meg’s introduction to the seminar is below.


I would like to welcome you to this seminar supporting creativity and innovation in the city. My name is Meg Munn, and I’m the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley, and I’ll be chairing this session.


There has been much talk in the media on the ideas surrounding creativity and innovation, certainly within the context of a ‘knowledge economy’ - a term I am sure you are familiar with.


Central to this is the acquisition and exploitation of ideas and information, we see this process happening now as the economy in Sheffield shifts from manufacturing to services and ideas.   


Yet when we talk of creativity we must not think that it only applies to the creative industries. Yes they do show what is best and most innovative, but creativity can occur in a multitude of areas.


It does not matter what field you work in - manufacturing, banking, shop keeping, etc. Creativity is important. It is why the lessons we learn from the businesses here have a potential not just for your individual economic growth but also for larger businesses, concerns traditionally indisposed to change.  We can see lessons for us all in the situation facing Marks & Spencer - top of the pile for so long, then a slow slide that gathers pace as their failure to innovate becomes more apparent to the customer.

This is a global phenomenon. When we talk of supporting business innovation we should not be thinking just for the city, or regionally - we should gauge our competition globally, competing against the tiger economies of South Korea and Taiwan and new technology companies taking root in India.

Creativity is a continual process, whether it is the creation of a new solution, a new method, or a new artistic object or form. If it fills a need, or creates one, it will become universally adopted. Once this has taken place the innovation is no longer a symbol of distinction, it no longer provides us with a competitive advantage.

This is the challenge we now face. We must continually adapt in order to keep pace with the rest of the world. But I believe that if people are motivated and supported, we can achieve this.

It is worth noting that there is also a much more subtle effect that the creative industries have on our knowledge economy. There is a direct connection between a city’s success in attracting and retaining talent and its provision of cultural amenities. Put simply people like to live in cities supporting creativity, they’re energetic, interesting places to live in.

In Sheffield we can point to the developments situated in what we call the Cultural Industries Quarter around the Showcase cinema. It’s an area in the heart of Sheffield that is home to the largest concentration of creative production in Yorkshire and Humberside. One of Europe’s regeneration success stories, it’s an internationally renowned base for innovation and design and a model for 21st Century working.

I hope that today we can bring tangible benefits to small businesses that will in turn benefit the community of Sheffield. And while politics, and politicians, can play a role here much of the support will come from the organizations represented by our guests here.

With this in mind I will now, with great pleasure, hand you over to the speakers.


Hugh Turner from Beer and Partners,

Yvonne O’Donovan from INSPIRAL,

from Business Link, Nicola Warhurst,

and closing will be John Connolly from NESTA.



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