Programmable clothes, shop mirrors equipped with social media feedback and virtual reality meetings will play a key role in developing the UK economy in the next 30 years, according to the conclusions of an event run by Virgin Media Business and Sir Richard Branson today.
Thirty small firms joined business leaders from six sectors to set out the challenges, opportunities and trends of the future at the 30:30 Vision event chaired by Sir Richard.
The 30 small businesses have already been supported by Virgin Media Business during their start up stages as part of the Virgin Media Pioneers scheme, a free online community of support for thousands of UK entrepreneurs.
During the world’s first brainstorm on the EDF Energy London Eye, the large and small businesses predicted the enormous shifts that six key sectors will see over the next decades.
The visions predicted that:
- Nanotechnology will be embedded into the fabric of our clothes, allowing them to tell us if we’re lacking vitamins or putting on too much weight
- Virtual reality will allow workers around the world to join meetings and feel like they’re sitting with colleagues while actually being thousands of miles away
- Shop mirrors equipped with social interaction will allow friends to log on and give instant feedback on a new dress
- Intelligent fridges will tell us when we’re running out of milk or need to eat more fruit and vegetables
Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: “Our country’s small businesses are real visionaries. Although the future is complex and unknown, they are ready to seize the opportunities that lie ahead.
“What we’ve seen today shows that emerging innovations and technologies are being taken on by all sizes of businesses and organisations to cement their competitive advantage and be truly successful. And what better place to discuss the future than high over the City.”
The 30:30 Vision event saw start-ups and challenger businesses join industry leaders from: media and entertainment, food, fashion and beauty, social enterprise, retail and healthcare.
Six household names in business chaired the discussions aboard the Eye, including MacArthurGlen, Janssen Healthcare Innovation (part of Johnson & Johnson), AllSaints and BuzzFeed.
They then presented their ideas to Sir Richard and an audience of experts and media at a reception in County Hall on London’s South Bank.
Sir Richard compared the visions of the future to his experiences of the last three decades.
He said: “The last 30 years have seen dramatic developments in how businesses operate and interact with their customers – not least the enormous possibilities generated by the internet and digital technology. It’s great to see the imagination and enthusiasm of the 30:30 Vision participants leading the way on showing how that vision might take shape.”
Other visions for the future included a healthcare system which rebalances the relationship between doctors and patients and personalises healthcare; ordering food direct from farmers who are pulling up carrots as you click; and how we build trust around capturing our data to allow for greater personalisation of the services we use.
The industry leaders chairing the discussions were:
- Marco Mohwinckel, EMEA Director of Janssen Healthcare Innovation, Johnson & Johnson
- Will Hayward, VP of Advertising, Europe, BuzzFeed
- James Wintle, Global Director of Technology, AllSaints
- Alison Lancaster, Interim Marketing Director, McArthurGlen Group, and former head of eCommerce at John Lewis
- Mark Griffiths, Research and Planning, Virgin Unite
- Ian McGarrigle, Founder and Chairman, World Retail Congress
The insights of all the businesses who took part are being shared through an interactive website (www.3030vision.co.uk), with new visions added every day in July.
Other businesspeople, experts and future-gazing individuals from around the UK are being encouraged to share their own visions beyond that. The results will present a visionary glimpse of what the future might hold for the UK’s businesses.
30:30 Vision is the latest initiative from Virgin Media Business in its pledge to support small, growing businesses in achieving their ambitions.
It builds on the success of Three New Things, a competition held in March to unearth three new technologies with the power to change the way we live and work for good.