Bristol law firm celebrates transatlantic and regional innovation with International Innovation Week

From 18-22 March, law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), which has a large office in Bristol, has hosted its annual International Innovation Week. Now in its third year, the celebration saw 18 events taking place in the UK and US, looking at innovative technology that is transforming the legal industry and other sectors, how businesses challenge themselves to develop more efficient processes, and new ways of engaging with clients to embed a culture of innovation.

The events presented opportunities for all staff from both sides of the Atlantic to listen, learn, debate and create, through a series of open invitation webinars, workshops, roundtable events and discussions.

Two international events were hosted by VC across WBD’s 27 offices featuring prominent speakers. In London, Mathematician and Science Presenter Dr Hannah Fry led a session on ‘how to be human in the age of the machine’, looking at the good, the bad and the ugly algorithms that are all around us and whether we should rely on them and trust them over our own judgement. Later on in the week, futurist keynote speaker Michael Rogers facilitated ‘the virtualization of the world’ session from the firm’s Palo Alto office in California. Michael touched on a number of points, from the future of physical offices to how the next generation will prefer to interact.

‘Close to Home’ events were also held regionally including in the firm’s Bristol office. Centered around the theme ’Innovation for Good“, a number of external speakers were invited to showcase and discuss some of the initiatives happening across the city. Adrian Watts from technology company Konica Minolta talked about the newly developed app genARate which uses augmented reality (AR) to create rich media communications by overlaying video, animations and 3D models onto printed materials. Adrian also explained how the company recently partnered with The Big Issue magazine which published a number of editions using AR in order to boost engagement and bring the content to life.

Diana Finch also provided an update on the Bristol Pound, the UK’s largest local currency. With nearly 600 businesses trading with it, the Bristol Pound aims to create a more resilient and sustainable independent business sector in Bristol and encourages a local circular economy by maintaining wealth within the city.

Finally Paul Barker from Bristol City Council gave an introduction to the work the council is doing to decarbonise Bristol, in line with the city’s commitment to run entirely on clean energy by 2050. He explained how the development of Heat Networks will play an essential role in achieving this goal by providing local businesses and housing with heat and power from more sustainable sources. The new network of underground pipes will deliver affordable, low-carbon heat and energy across the city and will eventually cover central Bristol and other areas across the city, powered by low carbon energy centres.

Julian Kinsey, Partner and Head of WBD’s Bristol office, commented: “We’re delighted to have hosted our International Innovation Week for the third year running. The event provides a spotlight for firm wide projects and new ways of working that will be hugely beneficial for our people on both sides of the Atlantic and here in Bristol. The celebration enables us to further build on knowledge exchange and best practice with our US colleagues and our ‘Close to Home’ events give us the opportunity to find out more about the exciting and nimble initiatives happening in our region.”

Ranking in the UK’s top 20 law firms, WBD provides legal expertise in eleven key sectors from across eight offices in the UK and 19 offices in the US. Bristol is firm’s second largest office where it employs more than 230 staff.

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