NECESSITY is often the mother of invention – just as adaptation is the forerunner to great evolutionary leaps. James Watt’s improvements to the primitive steam engine, for example, lit the touchpaper for the gradual growth of global industry, yet today, the all-encompassing digital landscape forms new paradigms of reality on a near-daily basis.  

And it has become clear over the past decade that the internet is no longer a simple content platform conforming to prevailing economic circumstances – it is now the prime conduit for change itself. 

Yet, as we have all seen in recent weeks, unprecedented events can also force swift change in all aspects of society, with any arrogant notions of permanence revealed as illusionary. 

The global economy has been immeasurably disrupted by the impact of the Covid-19 virus, but it should be remembered that survivors of previous economic upheavals were those who possessed the energy and vision to adapt and evolve their offerings to suit the ‘new normal’.

Driven by a similar survivalist spirit, the acclaimed annual Scottish conference for the country’s leading entrepreneurs, policymakers and educators –  Impact Summit from FutureX – is refusing to allow its fate to be shaped by a force of nature. Rather, organisers are adapting to prevailing circumstances by taking the entire event online on May 20. 

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Originally scheduled to take place at Glasgow’s SWG3 venue, the annual Impact Summit attracts a stellar line-up of altruistic, empathetic figures in business who wish to use their privileged place in society to tackle shared challenges. 
It’s a platform for those who wish to create a better world through compassionate capitalism as well as a space to celebrate new leadership models and initiatives.

The event is organised by FutureX, which, from its base in Edinburgh, collaborates with business and governments around the world in the pursuit of a values-led economy. 

“As disturbing and concerning as the Covid-19 pandemic has been – and continues to be – it has presented us with an opportunity to pioneer how such conferences take place in the future,” explains FutureX CEO Bruce Walker.

“While people will not be able to meet physically in person this year, the conference will be powered by cutting-edge software platforms that will ensure key conversations, inspirational talks and excellent networking opportunities will still take place much the same way they would if participants were physically present. 

“Businesses will get all the help and advice they need during the current crisis.”
Here in Scotland, the movement to unlock the potential of business to transform society has been gathering momentum, with Walker’s entire FutureX ethos driven by the notion that leaders at every level must move from a mentality of power to one of compassion, reconnecting business to its core purpose: serving humanity. 

Walker confirms: “Human-centric companies drive the charge to transform workplaces and management culture. We have a unique opportunity to set a standard for compassionate business to the rest of the world. Scottish firms are forging a path to improve quality of life for all.”

Attempting to confront the myriad issues that are troubling our planet is a perplexing challenge. However, with so many inspirational individuals in one digital creative space – inspired by several new conference themes focusing on the future of food and drink, mindfulness and wellbeing and last, but certainly not least, adaptation of work during the coronavirus pandemic - the Impact Summit will attempt to empower businesses with social purpose and advise them on becoming more sustainable.

Walker believes this year’s online reinvention of the format may actually serve to foster stronger connections between delegates, due to the intimacy of the platform and participants feeling more aligned to others who are similar to themselves in terms of ambition. 

Game-changing collaborations can evolve from the comfort of delegates’ own living rooms.

“We have essentially invented everything again. It’s both terrifying and also wildly exciting – we’re trying to pioneer and lead the field, which is always gratifying,” says Walker. 

“There are other events attempting something similar during the pandemic but this is the only one I can think of that is trying to replicate an entire conference! 

“It reduces so many barriers to participation. In addition to our incredible line-up of prominent speakers, there will be online networking opportunities where participants will be able to connect directly with other attendees and see each others’ entire LinkedIn profiles.”

“There will be an incredibly wide array of exciting experiences – some pre-recorded, some live. The great benefit of going online is that there are no restrictions on physical space and time – all the issues and organisational burdens of hosting such an event in a large venue are gone.”

Participants in this year’s Impact Summit will have the option of a one-day pass to take part in discussions and view events – while a special unlimited access option will allow them to dip in and experience content at any time.  

“It’s really exciting that we are going to package it all up for later consumption – and the nature of an online conference also means that people who couldn’t make the event now can due to this new format. People who couldn’t travel previously now want to get involved and actually can because there are no physical constraints,” says Walker.

Such luminaries who are now signed up include Anahid Basmajian from Facebook and Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of OLIO, a mobile app which aims to reduce food waste.

Walker concludes: “Everyone is excited about the possibilities of connecting online to like minds for future opportunities. People know we can’t get through this unprecedented pandemic alone – we all need to pull together. And anyone in business has to make it known that they are still doing business. 

“If the government expects everything to freeze for several months then just start back where we left off, that’s difficult – but Impact Summit provides the perfect opportunity keep our engines running – and to let the world know we are ready.” 

 To see the full schedule of Impact Summit keynotes and the virtual exhibitor marketplace, go to www.impact-summit.org