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Beacon of Global Collaboration

Paul McComb

Happening in March, Britain’s GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong comprises a series of thought-provoking and lively keynotes, master classes, showcases, installations and performances. Paul McComb, Director General, UK Trade & Investment for Hong Kong and Macau at the Department for International Trade, discusses the festival programme and the United Kingdom Government’s vision for partnerships and trade with Asia.

Tell us about the event.
The GREAT Festival of Innovation, to be held at Asia Society Hong Kong Centre from 21-24 March, is the third of its kind after the success of the GREAT Festivals of Creativity in Istanbul (2014) and Shanghai (2015). Its vision is to share the best of innovation and create life-long partnerships that will drive the future of free trade and prosperity between the UK, Hong Kong and the region.

What can we expect?
The festival will explore the latest in cutting-edge innovation and the future of how we work, live, play and learn through a series of talks, panels and interactive workshops over four days. Bringing together some of the world’s brightest minds, business leaders and policymakers, the Festival will provide a unique platform for powerful future partnerships.

“In addition to being a leading financial centre and a gateway to the Greater Bay area, Hong Kong holds an eminent position in Asia as a beacon of free trade and international collaboration.”

Why was Hong Kong chosen for this event?
Hong Kong and the UK have a very symbolic relationship, with strong cultural ties, mutually beneficial partnerships and a shared vision for the future. In addition to being a leading financial centre and a gateway to the Greater Bay area, Hong Kong holds an eminent position in Asia as a beacon of free trade and international collaboration. This is a vision that the UK shares.  Through the festival, we will provide a platform for innovators, thought-leaders and decision-makers to unlock potential for long-lasting partnerships that can create prosperity for the UK, Hong Kong and the Asia region.

Who will be attending?
Leading the discussion will be an impressive line-up of thought leaders, business pioneers, innovators and policymakers from the UK and Asia. Some of the key speakers set to take the stage include: Charles Bowman, Lord Mayor of London; Paul Priestman, Chairman of PriestmanGoode; Richard Deverell, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Tea Uglow, Creative Director of Google's Creative Lab in Sydney; Eiji Uda, Chief Technology Innovation Officer of Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee; Alex Kong, CEO and founder of TNG Wallet; and Andre Fu, founder of Andre Fu Living.

Tell us about some of the highlights.
The core programme of the GREAT Festival of Innovation will explore four key themes over its four days. Day one is centred around work, and includes sessions such as Powering Tomorrow’s Ideas, The Future of Free Trade, FinTech Futures and Workplaces of the Future, before concluding with a keynote on Human and Machine, which will explore some of the most pressing topics around the artificial intelligence revolution.

Day two will explore the way we live, through sessions such as Smart Cities, Aero Meets Space, Inclusive Innovation and Future Food and Farming. Day three will re-imagine how we play, with sessions on that day including Culture and Commerce, Tomorrow’s Creators, and The Future of Sport and Storytelling: a Constant in a Changing World.

Then on day four, the festival will conclude with insights into the future of education and learning. Students, researchers and professors from five of the UK’s top universities will share their innovations and insights in a meaningful cultural exchange with their Hong Kong counterparts.

What else can we expect from GREAT?
Supporting the festival is a rich cultural programme showcasing the best of British talent. Taking place across multiple venues, in unexpected places, and at all hours of the day, the programme will showcase the most captivating music, dance, visual art, literature, theatre, food and drink and moving image in the UK today. From storytelling to soundscapes, live music to wearable technology and even immersive food and drink experiences, the GREAT Festival of Innovation promises to tell the story of UK culture in a truly original way.

Related Link
Department for International Trade 

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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