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Free festival to showcase Dorset’s bright digital future

How will learning change for our children in the digital age? How is tourism reinventing itself? How could technology help improve wellbeing and independence? What does the future of agriculture look like and how can it support climate change?

Dorset may be a county steeped in tradition, picture postcard villages and old world charm. But it is also a leading proponent of cutting edge technology. The ground-breaking 5G RuralDorset project, backed by Dorset Council, has just scooped three national awards and Dorset Council were the 2020 winners of the national winner of the Digital Skills Award – given for the work going on across the county to help everyone in Dorset make the most of the digital tools available to them and make sure Dorset becomes a truly digital place.

The new innovation centre – called Defence BattleLab – being built at Dorset Innovation Park, the site of the former Winfrith nuclear facility, has a £3.1 investment from the Ministry of Defence and £2.6m from Dorset Council and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The BattleLab will allow defence personnel to work with academic institutions and private sector companies on new military technologies.

The Return of FutureFest

Dorset Council’s Festival of the Future is back – a five-day festival staged at locations across Dorset next week to showcase the county’s exciting digital future. In 2020 the first Festival of the Future was by necessity a Zoom- only online event. Thanks to its 2020 success, tis year the festival is back, this time in a hybrid format. Dorset Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Peter Wharf, said: “Our festival will be a fully-fledged hybrid experience where we will be live with a local audience and available online for people to view as a live broadcast.

It promises to be a lot of fun, very exciting and enlightening as we look into what our future holds – and best of all it is completely free to attend.”

Held from 4th to 8th October, #FutureFest21 will highlight the innovation and technology that
is set to transform the county as a place to live, work, visit, learn and do business in.

What is happening

Each day of the festival has a different theme, and the guest speakers are all leaders in their fields:

Monday

The business world takes centre stage live from the Dorset Innovation Park in Winfrith. See how the defence industry created the unique BattleLab to trial new innovations and hear how digital can underpin Dorset’s future economy.

Tuesday

Live from Shaftesbury and future of education. The festival goes back to school to ask what will the classroom of the future look like?

Wednesday

Is Tourism Day – industry and digital leaders will discuss how innovation can enhance and revolutionise the industry and the visitor experience.

Thursday

Is all about rural affairs and the environment. Live from a farm near Blandford, experts will demonstrate the latest innovations in farming; technical ways of monitoring production and how a new breed of robots can zap weeds and improve yields. In the afternoon session, the festival will explore the climate and ecological emergency in Dorset;
considering aquaculture, the natural environment and how Low Carbon Dorset is helping organisations reduce their energy carbon footprint.

Friday

Is on the very important subject of innovation in health and social care, and will be shared from Moors Valley Country Park.

The morning session will look at how technology can help people live independently and how the pandemic changed services. The final afternoon will see the festival end on a high talking about digital leadership and promoting wellbeing. Dorset Council’s chief executive, Matt Prosser, said: “We hope as many people as possible with an interest in business, tourism, education, rural affairs and health and social care come and join us for our Festival of the Future 21 – either in person or online.”

For more details and to book free tickets go to www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/festival-of-the-future-2021



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