17 Jul 2007
By Rachel Kenworthy
Over 80 London-based knowledge transfer professionals gathered on July 10 for an informal evening of networking and entertainment at KnowledgeLondon’s Summer Party.
Hosted on a rare sunny evening by the University of Westminster, the event boasted of the outstanding projects and ideas which are continuing to emerge from London’s knowledge base.
Felicity Harvest, Executive Director of the Arts Council England, South East, opened the occasion with a few words which emphasized the importance of creative projects conceived and developed in London’s Higher Education institutions to the UK economy.
“The Arts Council has recently published a strategy which recognises that Knowledge Transfer is one of the main areas of growth available and has the potential to be a major point of connection between the higher education sector and the arts and cultural sectors,” she said. “There are many excellent examples of collaborations in design, fashion, media and technology which are beginning to have an impact not only on the students but also on the industries that employ them.”
The audience was captivated by a showcase from the SMARTLab Digital Institute, which aims to find innovative solutions to community issues by employing new, creative technology. Professor Lizbeth Goodman, SMARTLab’s Founder and Director, presented an incredible eye-scanning technology which has allowed a man with severe cerebral palsy to write and play music using only his eyes. After performing a delicate balancing-act dance with Bobby Byrne, her colleague and disabled dancer, Goodman explained the importance of enabling people with disabilities to participate in creative activities. “We’re all dancing on the inside,” she said. “It’s important that every person, regardless of ability, is able to express themselves.”
Other exhibits included Communication-Wear, a jacket with interwoven mobile technology, which allows expressive messages to be conveyed using implanted electronic textile sensors, developed by Central Saint Martins; a novel flexible sheet structure that can be applied to limb and neck fractures by Brunel’s Wolfson Centre; and UCL’s Boomcube, which, according to Chief Engineer, Bradford Backus, is the world’s best portable iPod speaker system. Newham College of Further Education was also on hand to parade intricately designed dresses and demonstrate the increasing benefit of furthering knowledge transfer links between Further Education Institutions and industry.
The evening was well received by all who attended. Backus, who had been unsure of what he might gain from a networking event, admitted that he was very pleasantly surprised. “It was a well-run event and I made contacts which might be very useful to us.” Michelle Flinn, from the Roehampton School of Arts, said “the whole event was very useful and a great opportunity to network.”