Session 4: Interactive Afternoon

Time for audience participation. After lunch we will be rolling-up our sleeves and getting to work through table discussions inspired by ideas shared by the representatives from Growth Hubs, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chamber of Commerce.

Each speaker will share two actions which they would like Margot James, Small Business Minister, to consider when developing Government policy supporting and enabling the small business sector in digital adoption. Following a round of table discussions audience will be invited to vote for their preferred action by taking an online poll. The winning idea will be shared with BEIS and Minister Margot James.

Both will pitch ideas focused on two elements they think are necessary for successful adoption of Digital in the SME sector. Following another round of table discussions, using their phones, the audience will take part in creating instant word cloud identifying their favourite ideas.


Stephen Fry
CEO of Hounslow Chamber of Commerce

Stephen was appointed in September 2011. His role is to lead the Chamber both as a Company and as a lobby organisation for the 18,000 firms in the Borough. He is expanding the Chamber reach engaging with the entire community and its growth sectors: Creative - Tech Media Broadcast Production - & Cargo and Logistics - Export Freight Forwarding Global Markets.

Rob Earnshaw
Director of Digital City

Rob started his career scouting actors placing talent in films such as Spielberg’s War Horse in 2005. He setup the National Youth Film Academy in 2012 and established the UK’s largest Digital Apprenticeship program. Due to his frustration that the North’s Digital Sector had a lack of talent Rob set up a campaign called Creative North helping over 200 young people get digital jobs in 18 months. Previously a member of the NELEP’s business support board he is also involved in a number Governmental advisory positions including DCMS task group to get more females into digital and sits on DCLG’s Digital High Street Group. At 29 he's the youngest ever Director of Teesside University’s Digital City, a leading digital business support programme.

Catherine Knivett
The London LEP

Catherine Knivett is the Principal Policy Officer for Digital Skills at the Greater London Authority. She heads up the Mayor of London’s Digital Talent programme, funded by the London Enterprise Panel, and has a wealth of expertise in education, skills and equality. Catherine is committed to inspiring young people from all backgrounds to become creative and conscious technologists of the future. She believes everyone should challenge their unconscious bias and take action to provide equal opportunities for the next generation.

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Emma Cheshire
Strategic Advisor – Tech and Innovation at Manchester Growth Company

Emma has a wealth of experience in tech innovation, adoption and integration of startups and startup processes for corporate and Third Sector and fund management. As a co-founder of Dotforge she was responsible for raising the initial investment funding of £500,000 to launch the first Dotforge accelerator programmes, which she went on to deliver in 2013 and 2014. Since 2015 she has focused on Tech4Good working with established social, tech and corporate investors to deliver accelerators for social innovation and health tech.