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Future Tech Forum

Client: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
Event: Future Tech Forum
Date: Monday 29th November – Tuesday 30th November 2021
No of guests: 200
Event spaces: Illuminate , Smith Centre, Flight, Information Age and Wonderlab: The Equinor gallery 

Event brief & objectives:

To provide space and a suitable environment for an invite only, in-person event to:

  • Facilitate frank exchanges between democratic governments on future public policy issues.
  • Begin early discussions on emerging developments in the sector, identifying public policy gaps, areas for collaboration and issues requiring further exploration.
  • Build consensus on the most significant shared challenges relating to the development and use of future technologies, and the role of governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders in addressing them while increasing assurance that tech will champion open society values.

Who was in attendance?

We had around 200 delegates attending per day, including Government Ministers, Government Officials and very senior representatives from industry, academia, and civil society.

Did Covid affect this event in any way?

The event was designed to be an invite only, in-person forum with an option for a small number of virtual attendees. As such and due to Covid, the event dates were moved from September to November in order to maximise in-person attendance.

How did you feel about organising an event post-pandemic? Did you implement any Covid measures?

Management of events during/post-pandemic has become another factor to consider in the overall planning for events and we would anticipate that this will continue for some time. We introduced a range of Covid measures / protocols (testing regime etc.), including an International Event Exemption due to the type and travel requirements of an international audience.

Why did you choose the Science Museum?

The Science Museum provides some amazing and interesting spaces in which to stage an event, and the museum is particularly pertinent to the type of event we were organising i.e., a Future Tech Forum. Also, the galleries in particular provided airy and well-ventilated spaces for our delegates.

How did you choose which spaces you wanted to use for the main plenary, catering, and breakouts etc.?

We chose Level 5 of Illuminate as our plenary space due to it being purpose-built for this type of event and chose Flight for catering due to its size and available space. We selected Information Age as one of our breakout spaces due to its gallery content being pertinent to our forum discussions, whilst the Smith Centre was used as a gathering space for Ministers and for the most important bilateral meetings.

What were the benefits of using Illuminate for your main plenary?

Illuminate was ideal for our main plenary as we were able to set the space up whilst the museum was closed, and it’s technically a very adaptable space due to its blank canvas nature. The standout feature of Illuminate was definitely the views across London!

How important was it to have exclusive access to the museum? And the ability to utilise a number of different spaces throughout your event?

Our event would not have been possible without exclusive access the entire museum given the type of  audience that we invited to attend (e.g., Government Ministers) and because it was an invite only event.

Who were your catering and AV partners?

We used the Science Museum’s in-house catering and AV partners – Moving Venue and White Light – as well as our production company Identity. The hybrid in-person / virtual production set up was bespoke.

What catering was provided at the event?

Moving Venue provided menus designed both with current British and International food trends. as well as ingredient seasonality being at the forefront. Sustainability, including provenance and carbon footprint, was also an important consideration.

For the breakfast bowls and break snacks, Moving Venue created ‘brain food’ dishes that focussed on healthy and wholesome ingredients such as low-fat Dorset yoghurt, fresh autumnal British fruits and slow-releasing jumbo oats from Somerset. For those needing heartier items, sautéed mushrooms from Essex on truffle toast with spinach and the ever-popular bacon sandwiches, using meat from the South Coast, were also provided.

The lunches featured internationally inspired dishes such as Buttermilk chicken with Muhammara sauce, Ratatouilles and a vegan Sweet potato and lentil dahl, rounded off by delicious British desserts including Blackberry cheesecake with olive oil shortbread and Blood orange trifle.

Showcasing Britain’s traditional offerings, Moving Venue offered a play on the classic ‘fish and chips’ with triple cooked potato chips, malt vinegar, salt and smoked trawled cod roe with MSC sustainability certification. Finally, with a nod to the Great British coastline we offered a baked ‘blue label’ hake fillet with mixed roast vegetables, potato dauphinoise and bacon butter.

What AV provisions were required?

Drawing on its long-standing relationship and intricate knowledge of the Science Museum, White Light (WL) supplied all lighting to enhance the different areas used in the most effective way possible. Working closely with Lighting Designer Robert Jones, the equipment selected served to reflect the conference’s future tech focus, while highlighting the unique exhibits and architectural features of the main galleries.

WL also supplied power distribution across the numerous spaces, including for several third-party suppliers, ensuring that all BS7909 standards were adhered to. With different set-ups for the main plenary over the two event days, WL helped to facilitate a fast-overnight turnaround needed to meet the tight itinerary for this high-profile event.

Any aspects of the event that proved challenging? If so, how were they overcome?

We had some Initial concerns that the size of the Science Museum might prove challenging when it came to ensuring that delegates could find their way around, however we overcame this with the use of visual signage and staff wayfinders.

What feedback did you receive from guests?

The event was attended by the Secretary of State for DCMS, other DCMS Ministers, senior government officials, senior executives from industry, academia and civil society and international delegations from a range of different countries. Feedback from delegates across all these groups has been extremely positive.

Client testimonial:

“The Science Museum is a fascinating venue in which to hold events, and the event was only made possible by the ability to secure exclusive use of the Museum on a Monday and Tuesday. Staff across a range of areas at the museum (events, security and comms) were knowledgeable, flexible, incredibly helpful and quick to respond to suggestions and queries, both from us as the organisers and also our production company.”

Jack Adam, Head of  Delivery, Future Tech Forum