21 June 2022
Becoming immersed in virtual reality, exploring competitive video gaming simulation racing, and getting a grip on how artificial intelligence is helping to improve road safety were just some of the digital delights on offer at the return of a showcase technology event.
Merged Futures brought together experts in emerging technologies to explore the potential to further develop and innovate for the benefit of the county’s businesses, students and residents.
The annual event was organised by Digital Northants, a collaboration between the University of Northampton, North and West Northamptonshire Councils and local businesses.
A celebration of Northamptonshire’s innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs, Merged Futures brought together people from different sectors interested in digital, tech and innovation to share and spark ideas.
The first in-person Merged Futures took place in 2019 on campus at the University of Northampton, moving online and attracting a global audience in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s event was once again held at the University of Northampton’s Waterside campus.
Cllr David Howes, North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive member for Rural Communities and Localism, said: “The digital economy is so important in terms of driving prosperity and connecting communities. I’m proud that this authority can play a part in supporting such a worthwhile initiative.
“I’m delighted to see this flagship digital event taking place for the fourth year in a row – showcasing the digital talent on offer locally.
“This is an excellent collaboration between the public and private sectors and an exciting way of stimulating connections to drive forward the economy and find creative solutions to a range of issues.”
Cllr Daniel Lister, West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet Member for economic development, town centre regeneration and growth, said: “The pace of innovation and change is such that events like this are not a ‘nice to have.’ We’re in the midst of revolution in the way we communicate, work and play and if you’re not up to date you will be left behind.
“That’s the same if you’re a business, an industry sector or economic region, and it’s up to us as local authorities and business leaders to provide a platform to showcase and share great ideas.”
Experts were on hand to provide insight into how new technology, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, can enhance the work of different sectors, including business, healthcare and education.
The event was also a valuable opportunity for connections between companies and educators with those interested in implementing digital transformation in their business or organisation.
John Sinclair, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, said: “The University is proud to have hosted the Digital Northants Merged Futures conference again this year, bringing together industry and academia to look at new applications of digital technologies in industry, transport, business, culture and more.
“This year, we welcomed representatives from local businesses such as VR Therapies, Toru Digital and Spokes Education as well as being joined by international technology innovator, Sony.
“In its fourth year, Merged Futures has gone from strength to strength, proving to be an invaluable opportunity not only to promote local but nationally important, innovative projects and initiatives taking place within the county.”