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11:35 am - 12:15 pm

‘What if..?’ Panel Pitches

In his Introduction to the Penguin Galaxy sci-fi series, author Neil Gaiman wrote:

“Thought experiments – those that begin with What if… and If only… and If this goes on… – allow us to see that things can be different, and then we write the stories that those ideas inspire.”

Taking direct inspiration from the overarching theme for VentureFest North East (Our Future, Now), this session asks three regional innovators and influencers to paint us a picture, asking ‘What if’.

What if we did things differently now? What is the art of the possible in areas that have potential for long-term positive societal impact? And how can we take up the challenge to drive these visions forwards?

The panel brings together experts in three diverse fields and will examine how we can improve education, make travelling by plane more sustainable, and increase diversity in the tech sector.

Professor Craig Gaskell

What if local industry played a more active role in educating our young people?

Drawing on his extensive experience in the education sector, including the establishment of alternative education models at Teesside University and at University Academy 92 in Manchester, Prof. Gaskell will pitch a vision of more active partnerships between industry and academia to build inclusive education programmes that build a skilled workforce for the future. Discussing the benefits, he will envision what the region’s economy would look like in future if wide-spread change was seen in the education sector.

Nick Wright

What if hydrogen could help us reach for the sky?

Hydrogen is a much-discussed fuel type when considering ways in which we can drive down our carbon missions globally. While much discussion is being had about the impact it could have the domestic arena, Nick will pitch his vision to delegates focusing on the benefits of adopting hydrogen power in aeronautics. Looking at the technology available now to make this change, he will also examine the systemic barriers that are stopping wide-spread adoption of hydrogen power in air travel.

Noura Al-Moubayed

What if we solve the diversity problem in tech?

Having spoken extensively about ethics and fairness in AI and how AI could be used to tackle unconscious bias. Noura will take a broader look at the lack of diversity in tech and the issues this poses when ‘applied human intelligence’ or AI is programmed by a workforce of people from the same background, social status and gender. The lack of diversity in tech is a commonly discussed problem, Noura will take a more in-depth look at the risks that arise when AI is making decisions based on homogenised opinions.

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