This year’s event will place strong emphasis on putting purpose at the heart of business, writes Kim McAllister


Putting purpose at the heart of business is a growing priority that aims to be addressed at this year’s Impact Summit.

Taking place virtually on May 19 and 20, the conference from FutureX is aimed at entrepreneurs, executives and educators who want to learn more about tackling global challenges.

FutureX Co-founder Bruce Walker explained that there are a number of new features for this year’s event.

“After the success from last year and the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic and international BLM 
movement, this year is all about expanding access and opportunities,” he explained.

“As well as having a world-class speaker line-up, we have invested in a new platform which will help match attendees with each other and connect them to relevant support. We have also introduced a new global competition to find and support purpose-driven businesses and launched a “pay what you can” pricing model, plus a Pay It Forward Programme so that all groups, from all different backgrounds will have access to Impact Summit 2021.”

Speakers this year include the chief executive of Timpson, James Timpson; the CEO of Innocent drinks, Douglas Lamont and, from Ben & Jerry’s Europe, Rebecca Baron who is head of activism and social mission.


James Timpson has pioneered ‘upside down management’


The audience can also look forward to hearing from the CEO of Oxfam GB, Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, the former national spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion UK Rupert Read, and Saskia Bruysten, Co-founder of Yunus Social Business.

Walker said that when FutureX launched Impact Summit, the dream was for it to be a place where global CEOs and entrepreneurs would come together to share how they are using business as a force for good. 

“Our 2021 line-up lives up to that dream with speakers including James Timpson, the high-street brand that has pioneered ‘upside down management’, and Douglas Lamont, CEO of international smoothie company, Innocent Drinks. There are lots more still to be announced.

“Impact Summit is a grass-roots festival started by a passionate team in Scotland and we’ve grown it into Europe’s leading impact event in less than five years. The summit is so important because we need to move from talking about finding ‘solutions’ to helping people implement them.

“We already have the answers when it comes to the climate emergency, purpose-driven leadership and impact – we just need to share them far and wide. 

“Critically, Impact Summit is about the community that attends, it’s about finding allies, partners and friends who will support you in your mission to create a sustainable and scalable company.”

The three themes of people, planet and technology will be explored over the two days in a virtual setting that aims to connect people without the need for travel. The organisers expect over 1,000 attendees from 20-plus countries to attend, half of whom will be start-ups or scaleups. They expect about three-fifths of the audience to be female and over half of attendees will be founders or senior leaders.

“Attendees will get exclusive insight into the trends that will define the future of business from the leaders who are bringing them to life,” Walker said. 

“We will have talks, panels, pitches and masterclasses about strategies for scaling while having a positive impact on people and the planet. We will deep-dive into how entrepreneurs are transforming the way we work, live and learn – while also covering topics on inclusion, leadership and growth.

“Impact Summit is also about connecting attendees with partners and supporters who can open doors, provide funding, mentoring and advice as they go through the journey of building a purpose-driven company.”

In previous years, speakers have included Sir Tom Hunter, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, president of the Homeless World Cup Mel Young, and Mark Cuddigan, CEO of Ella’s Kitchen, the baby food company.

This year, FutureX is also running a competition for companies that are changing the world for the better. It is billed as a showcase for the world’s most promising purpose-led businesses and offers entrants a global platform to share their message and the opportunity to win prizes that will accelerate their business.

The package includes a free place on the FutureX Silicon Valley Programme – which offers a cohort of rising purpose-driven entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with leading industry figures and pitch to potential investors. Previous cohorts have met with executives from Airbnb, Facebook, SurveyMonkey, RocketSpace, Y Combinator, Waze, Threshold and more.

Programme alumni have collectively raised over £40 million in investment. 
The final of the competition will take place at Impact Summit 2021, where three finalists will pitch to the expert judging panel and event attendees, who will together choose the winner. 

The prizes include: a fully-funded place on the Silicon Valley FutureX programme, worth £3,000; an advertising and content package with The Herald, worth £20,000; and a year’s FutureX Plus Premium membership worth £399.99.

The competition is aimed at entrepreneurs making a positive impact on the people, communities and environment around them with an early-stage, scalable, start-up which is solving a problem in a new or unique way. There are no geographical restrictions – the competition is open to entrepreneurs all over the world.