By Finn Macleod, founder of Zenlike Focus who we have featured previously here, who covered Unbound – a leading innovation conference in the UK, with over 3500 attendees, for Irish Tech News. Two days at the end of the week, it followed TechCrunch London – some people did both back to back.
Pepsi, Viacom, WPP and other corporates starred the panels, with Sir Martin Sorrell talking about the hot topic of fake news, and stridently put the case for Google and Facebook to take responsibility for fact checking. The Duke of York, who seems to be quite fond of startups, was also in attendance.
Founded by Daniel Seal, Unbound has a distinctive Israeli Tech flavour. The chairman of Unbound is Yossi Vardi, a founding father of the Israeli tech scene, and his partnership with Daniel has clearly given Unbound an extra credibility with corporates.
“Daniel did the works and deserves full credit – I just tipped the scales” – Yossi Vardi
I met Daniel’s parents at the coffee dock and his mother enthusiastically jumped up to arrange an interview, leaving me in an interesting discussion with his father about his time as a Jewish pastor in Scottish prisons. Daniel had been involved in a health startup before Unbound, and so knows the startup scene. The hockey stick growth curve of Unbound would be the envy of any startup, with additional events in China and Singapore.
As usual, the best information is to be found in the after event party – people such as Peer Brentzen – Executive Vice President of Deutsche post who talked animatedly about how they’ve improved their parcel sorting efficiency by over 20% by using display visors, saving their workers from having to turn and look at screens.
In a sea of foreign faces it was great to hear the Irish voice with Brian Breslin from the IDA. He and his accomplice Israeli-Irish Lawyer Mattan Lass, gave a comprehensive lowdown on the conference.
The English approach to startup funding is of course very sensible – their incentive schemes are predominantly through tax breaks for private investors in the form of SEIS and EIS, rather than the more centralised Irish approach. However, they talk about the IDA and Enterprise Ireland with a strange fascination. “They’re very personable” said one English attendee. But said with a hint of reverence…as if it was some kind of fey Celtic magic.
Unbound was held in the Old Truman Brewery, near Brick lane and the very heart of London hipster culture. As far as conferences just before Christmas go, Unbound couldn’t be better for Christmas present buying. Two minutes walk away is the infamous cereal killer cafe (selling nothing but specialised breakfast cereals from around the world, and founded by two Irish guys – according to Brian) and endlessly delicious artisan produce.
A great event.