OpenCo London Co-Founder Hamish Kinniburgh tells TCUK about this year’s nationwide event
I first came across OpenCo on a trip to San Francisco. I had a free day and a friend mentioned it, so I went along. I was instantly hooked. The mix of people, spaces, ideas and stories was intoxicating. So, I tracked down the organisers and persuaded them to bring it to the UK.
Last year we (a small group from Mediabrands) successfully launched OpenCo in London. This year, with the help of TechCity UK we’re expanding to cover Birmingham, Bristol & Bath, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.
So, what is OpenCo? John Battelle, the founder, describes it as a mix between an open-house day, a music festival and a tech conference. Instead of filling a dark ballroom with ‘attendees’ and having lectures in a one-to-many style, OpenCo gets you inside the participating cities hottest start-ups and most innovative businesses.
This year OpenCo UK has over 100 HostCo’s taking part. Some of those which catch the eye in Liverpool include the opportunity to see the UX lab at Shop Direct, the amazing augmented reality stuff going on at Draw and Code as well as the chance to check out the amazing offices of Uniform.
In Manchester, The Neighbourhood’s session promises to use data and storytelling to take you to your childhood sweetshop, while Up Accelerator, Spaceport, The Landing and The Sharp project are rich with stories from their co-working and accelerator spaces.
Likewise in Sheffield, Dotforge will be showcasing their new social enterprise programme as well as their current roster of talent, while the Floow will be showcasing how they are leveraging Big Data to create fairer premiums for responsible drivers.
And finally, Birmingham has quite the lineup with 17 companies participating including Packt Publishing, one of the city’s lesser-known gems. Also, transforming how we cook and shop is Whisk, the brainchild of a former Apprentice candidate and Cisco 2013 BIG awards winner.
Whether it’s film (Wildseed Studios), data (Otus Labs), or making life admin that bit simpler (SplitTheBills and Glide), the most remarkable feature of OpenCo this year is the breadth of areas that are at the heart of the country’s innovation economy.
If you have a spare day, or even a spare 45 minutes, take the chance to go and see an OpenCo event in a participating. Chances are you’ll become hooked too.
To schedule your unique OpenCo experience click here