Plymouth 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 Plymouth, 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 Plymouth office where over 40 clients were invited to hear from Miles Carden, Director of Spaceport Cornwall, who spoke about the ambitious project to create safe low cost access to space in the UK from 2021. He spoke about the partnership with Virgin Orbit, Goonhilly Earth Station, Cornwall Council and the LEP which will enable Cornwall to provide the first UK space launch in 50 years and deliver regular, reliable and responsible access to space. Whilst the UK builds a high proportion of the world’s small satellites, it has no launch capability, Miles stressed.

Virgin Orbit aircraft will take off from Cornwall Airport Newquay and then fly out over the Atlantic where they will launch the rockets and satellites into space before then returning to the ground in Cornwall. The partnership could see Virgin Orbit’s innovative horizontal launch technology help the UK’s small satellite industry access space from the convenience of a Spaceport in Cornwall and the horizontal launch solution will support the global commercialisation of space.

Spaceport Cornwall will be hugely positive for the South West region and the country as a whole. By 2028, the project could create 480 jobs and realise up to £200m of economic activity in the UK. Spaceport Cornwall will also attract a large number of visitors, boosting local business and tourism and inspire future generations of space explorers and engineers.

Craig Moore, Partner and Head of WBD’s Plymouth 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 Plymouth. 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. In Plymouth the firm employs more than 180 people.

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