5 talks you definitely don’t want to miss at Inspirefest 2016

9 Jun 2016

The excitement before Inspirefest 2015. Image via Conor McCabe Photography

With just weeks to go until Ireland’s premier sci-tech event, the schedule for Inspirefest 2016 has been released, and there are a number of sessions you definitely won’t want to miss.

It doesn’t feel like a year since last year’s inaugural event but, now, with the launch of the Inspirefest 2016 schedule, we can finally see how all those major names announced over the past few months will slot together.

With the main event taking place across the two days of 30 June and 1 July at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, followed by evenings of relaxed networking and a family fun day in Merrion Square Park on Saturday 2 July, more than 50 speakers will give their insight into some of the most transformative topics in sci-tech, ranging from fintech to health and much more in between.

To give an overall flavour of the event, here are just five talks you definitely don’t want to miss.

The age of STEAM – where technology and the arts converge

The Age of STEAM session at Inspirefest is aiming to explore the ways that technology and the arts practices intersect with each other, and how new electronic tools can lead to whole new creative practices.

Among the talented people speaking is Zoe Philpott, a tech entrepreneur and artistic storyteller with 17 years’ experience in digital and more than 20 years’ experience writing, producing and directing for theatre, software, film and live events.

As well as speaking at the main conference, attendees will get to see Philpott’s remarkable new piece of theatre on the life of Ada Lovelace, Ada. Ada. Ada. at the Inspirefest Fringe on Friday night.

Also joining Philpott will be Noel Murphy, design leader of IoT and wearables at Intel, who is a passionate maker exploring intersections between electronics and the arts and who recently worked with music and dance artists to create a new language for technology and arts to collaborate.

Linda Doyle, the director of the Connect research centre at Trinity College Dublin, and Nora O’Murchú, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Limerick, will also join Philpott and Murphy for a panel discussion.

The future of games

When it comes to game design and development, there is arguably no name more associated with it than Romero, and at Inspirefest we have two for the price of one!

Speaking on the Thursday morning, co-founders of Romero Games, Brenda and John Romero, will be offering amazing insights into their own experience of starting a new gaming company, not in the typical surroundings of California, but in the rather more laid-back surroundings of Galway.

With Brenda having been named in numerous lists as one of the leading women within the gaming industry, and John being adored as the designer behind such classic games as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, the pair has decades of experience within the industry to share.

The pair recently spoke with Siliconrepublic.com about their experiences so far, having taken everything to Galway to begin Romero Games, and are now forging ahead with the company’s latest title, Blackroom.

Leading through design thinking

On the Friday morning, we’ll get a chance to hear from some incredible founders and leaders in sci-tech who fully embrace the importance of creativity in the top roles.

More specifically, this panel of leading minds will discuss how we design innovative, human-centred products and services for the 21st century.

Among the esteemed guests will be Alan Siegel (Siegelvision) who, quite literally, pioneered the use of corporate voice, simplification and clarity in communications; and Lorna Ross (Mayo Clinic), who is internationally recognised as a veteran of the human-centred innovation community, having held leadership positions in five world-class innovation labs over the past 23 years.

Also, we’ll hear from Mark Curtis, the founder of leading service design agency Fjord, who will share his thoughts on the third wave of the internet, and Lara Hanlon of IBM, who will bring her significant experience in design thinking to the subsequent panel discussion.

What now for the collaborative/sharing economy?

Much has been made of the effect Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo, Zipcar et al will have on the future of how we do business, and three of this panel’s speakers are some of the ones closest to the coalface of this changing world.

Following an opening keynote from Robin Chase – founder of Zipcar, the first and largest car-sharing company in the world – will be a panel discussion with Chase, UK-based Irish entrepreneur Jules Coleman, co-founder of Hassle.com, the on-demand cleaning start-up; and the ‘Jane Bond of Innovation’, Nilofer Merchant, who speaks widely on the subject.

Fintech and the coming blockchain revolution

Claire Calmejane

Lloyds Banking Group’s Claire Calmejane

Given that we all employ financial services in our lives and enterprises, we need to stay informed on the future of fintech and the business opportunities presented by blockchain technologies. Whatever your specialisation, you need to understand how the future of finance will work and, thankfully, Inspirefest 2016 has you covered.

Among some of the heavy hitters on this panel are Hazel Moore of FirstCapital, who will present an overview of the global fintech scene, and David Tighe of Bank of Ireland, who will offer the view of the banks it challenges.

Additionally, we’ll get to hear from some of the leading voices on the implications of fintech on the wider financial sector, such as Claire Calmejane of Lloyds Banking Group, who will explain the need for a more diverse fintech sector.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Book your tickets now to join us from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Updated 5.30pm, 15 May 2016: This article was amended as Amor Sexton is no longer speaking at Inspirefest

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic