OneTech at the Impact Awards in Manchester
“And sometimes it’s good to get out”. That’s what I remember saying to myself as I sat on the train, watching the grey cityscape of London fade into bright hues of green as the train made its way across the country to Manchester. It’s good to get out because that’s where growth happens. It’s where you find new perspectives, inspiration and connections. And that's what I found at the annual Impact Awards and Conference by Digital Leaders
OneTech was nominated for a Tech for Diversity award at the annual Impact Awards and Conference by Digital Leaders. This year, it was hosted in Media City, Manchester. So, our digital contact lead, travelled to Manchester to attend the awards and conference. Here’s his recap of the day up north.
“And sometimes it’s good to get out”. That’s what I remember saying to myself as I sat on the train, watching the grey cityscape of London fade into bright hues of green as the train made its way across the country to Manchester. Sometimes it's good to get out from behind the desk, to untether yourself from the computer screens and to escape the hum of your laptop’s fan (as it struggles to keep Zoom and all 20 tabs open). And simply, it’s good to get out of London.
As a collective, this is something that we’ve all engaged with recently. Whether it’s coming out of lockdown, going back to the office, to in-person events again or travelling - you name it. But more personally for us here at OneTech, it’s been good to get out of London. We started the year with a team trip to Barcelona (stay tuned for some exciting news in April) and our activities are expanding to support entrepreneurs in Leeds and Liverpool.
It’s good to get out because that’s where growth happens. It’s where you find new perspectives, inspiration and connections. And, even though I was in-and-out in under 10 hours, I got to taste these key ingredients of that dish called “growth” in Manchester at the Impact Awards and Conference.
The Impact Awards and Conference is an annual event that celebrates organisations and individuals who are driving digital transformation and making a positive impact in the UK. The ceremony was held in Manchester’s Media City and attended by business leaders, digital experts, and representatives from government and non-profit organisations.
One of the highlights for me was the presentation on the butterfly Effect. It was an exploration of impact and how even the smallest, and seemingly insignificant, acts can ripple into a tidal wave of change. The presentation was both a call to action and a public service announcement. It shone a light on the individual power we all have to effect change in our immediate environment. And how a fall of one domino can cause a wave across our communities and world — for better or worse. No act is too small.
The three nominees for the Woman of Impact award were all inspiring. Each of them gave a short presentation on why they were nominated. A standout for me was Becca Hume who is the Founder of TapSOS. Her business started with one persistent question: “Why aren’t our emergency services inclusive of the hearing impaired?”. This question led to another; “what can I do about it?”. As a graphic designer, Becca harnessed the power of user-friendly design to build TapSOS.
TapSOS is a mobile app that enables users to quickly and discreetly request emergency assistance in situations where they are unable to speak or make a phone call. TapSOS is designed to be particularly useful for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech difficulties, as well as for those who are in situations where it may be unsafe or impossible to make a phone call, such as during a domestic violence incident or a terrorist attack.
It was no surprise to me that Becca Hume won the Woman of Impact Award. Whilst her business idea may have not been seen as radical because of its simplicity, the app facilitates the saving of lives. And that is radical. In this way, it echoed the butterfly effect presentation and one idea can create a tidal wave of change. It also emphasised that I was not just in a room of techie innovators, but I was surrounded by re-thinkers. People who are challenging the status quo. Rethinking the way we call for help with TapSOS. Rethinking our approach to medical care with C2-Ai. Rethinking our education system with Cognassist.
Although we didn’t win the Tech for Diversity Award, it was a privilege to be nominated alongside two innovating companies — Cognassist and Microlink. The award went to Cognassist, an ed-tech company that provides a platform to help identify, assess, and support neurodiverse learners. The Cognassist platform uses a combination of cognitive assessments, machine learning algorithms, and personalised learning strategies to create a tailored support plan for each learner. The platform is designed to be used by educators and learners in a range of settings, including schools, colleges, and universities.
As someone whose passionate about inclusion and figuring out ways to improve access, a platform like Cognassist is really interesting. This is especially aligned as we recently hosted a Roundtable on Neurodiversity in Tech and Entrepreneurship, which was attended by prominent figures, activists and advocates. And, this leads me to the final ingredient - connections.
Getting out of your usual workplace increases the likelihood of sparking new connections. A key component of the event was networking. And this is especially important for impact-driven organisations like OneTech and all the other organisations in attendance. Connections can lead to new ideas, collaborations, and partnerships… and they can also help to finish a thought or solve a problem. Even though I couldn’t hang around for long, I did get to connect with fellow attendees, understand the what and why of their organisations and share what we do here at OneTech. These exchanges instantly sparked ideas of potential collaborations with aim of furthering our growth and extending impact as an ecosystem.
Overall, the Digital Leaders' Impact Awards 2023 was an inspiring event that showcased the great work being done across the UK to drive digital transformation and promote diversity and inclusion. We look forward to continuing to work with the winners and finalists of the awards to support their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive tech sector.
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