Eden Project’s Sir Tim Smit to be Keynote Speaker at FuSIonFest


FuSIon Fest, the celebration of Social Innovation, has announced that Eden Project founder, Sir Tim Smit, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s festival. A collection of celebrated innovators from across the UK, Ireland and the EU will gather in Derry-Londonderry and Belfast on October 19th and 20th, bringing together people and organisations from all backgrounds with a shared passion for finding and delivering solutions to social challenges.

Sir Tim Smit KBE is founder of the award-winning Eden Project in Cornwall, which opened its doors to the public in 2000. Once a large, disused crater, it was Sir Tim’s vision which saw it transformed into an educational centre which houses a range of projects, including an indoor rain forest, learning college focusing on food production and horticulture and rainforest canopy. Since opening, the attraction has contributed more than £1 billion to the local economy, and seen over 16 million people through its doors.

Joining Sir Tim will be Deirdre Mortell, Head of Social Innovation Fund for Ireland, Tech Entrepreneur and Angel Investor Mary McKenna and Alan Mahon, from beer producer, Brewgooder, which donates all its profits to clean water in developing countries around the world. As well as the keynotes, FuSIon Fest will feature nine interactive breakout sessions each day, themed around social finance, tech for good, corporate social innovation, youth unemployment, social movements, shaping policy and more.

FuSIon Fest is being hosted by the Building Change Trust, as part of their work with Social Innovation NI, with support from the Department for Communities. The festival is organised by Innovate-NI.

Paul Braithwaite, who heads up the Building Change Trust’s work in Social Innovation, commented: “We’ve organised FuSIon Fest because we believe Social Innovation is a powerful concept that could find creative solutions to social problems. By bringing together a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally mix,  FuSIon Fest combines innovators from business, the public sector, and community sector, as well as individuals who have big ideas. Our panel of speakers will be inspiring participants through their own social innovation journey, and the programme includes workshops on specific issues such as youth unemployment and health inequalities, ‘tech for good’ and design thinking. We are hoping to find some great collaborative partnerships emerge from this year’s event, having had previous successes such as with Arthritis Care NI, who, through our Techies in Residence programme, worked with Blackstaff Games to develop a mobile game for young people affected by Arthritis to help them better manage their condition and communicate with health professionals.”

Sharon Polson from the Department for Communities said: “The Department is very pleased to be supporting FuSIon Fest this year. The festival provides an exciting opportunity for individuals and organisations to learn about social innovation and to have meaningful discussions on innovative solutions to the social problems we face in our society. We believe the festival will not only promote the concept of Social Innovation but will also inspire ideas and cultivate collaborations and we encourage organisations across the public, private and third sectors to get involved.”

FuSIon Fest takes place at the Playhouse, Derry-Londonderry on October 19th, and in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast on October 20th, with the ‘Social Collaboration finale A.K.A the AfterParty- taking place on the Belfast Barge on October 20th. Free tickets are available at www.fusionfest.co.uk and a free shuttle bus will run from Derry- Belfast for the afterparty. All welcome.

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