Thrings Meets…Bath Digital Festival

Thrings Meets Bath Digital Festival

Thrings partner Kate Westbrook meets Lucy Paine, from Bath Digital Festival

Kate Westbrook: Tell us about Bath Digital Festival – what is it all about and how did it start? Could you please tell us about the Bath Digital Festival and the evolution of it?

Lucy Paine: Bath Digital Festival is an annual celebration of the thriving digital scene in Bath and aims to bring people together to foster connections, ideas and collaborations around all things tech.  Spread over three days, this year from 14-16 May, the Festival puts on a range of events, activities and interactions for anyone interested in the digital landscape.

The Festival originated from what was known as Bath Spark (now rebranded as TechSpark.) The founders, including David Maher Roberts, Tom Lewis and others, wanted Bath to be recognised for being a digital, creative and innovative city and so started the Festival to bring people to the city to experience the wealth of tech industry here.

KW: What are the key themes being explored at this year’s Bath Digital Festival?

LP: Last year marked the inaugural year under Tech Spark’s stewardship, inheriting a 12-year legacy. We approached it cautiously, focusing on the 6 Cs (Creativity, Curiosity, Collaboration, Creative Thinking, Celebration and Climate) to gauge its reception within our tech community audience, resulting in 2100 attendees.

This year, however, we wanted to highlight Bath’s uniqueness and broaden our appeal nationally and internationally. Therefore, we chose three diverse themes: sport, cities and space. Sport showcases Bath’s athletic prowess with Olympians, our rugby team, and our city’s passion for sports. Under cities, we explore the challenges of preserving heritage and engaging with history using technology, aiming to transform Bath’s narrative from ‘preserved’ to ‘innovative’. Finally, space and within this theme we celebrate Caroline Herschel, a mathematician and astronomer from 1782, shedding light on her contributions and celebrating women in STEM. By focusing on these themes, we aim to engage in a global audience and foster meaningful conversations.

KW: What’s on the agenda for this year’s Festival, and how can people join in?

LP: This year’s Festival is packed with engaging conversations and activities. Each day kicks off with a breakfast followed by a showcase where attendees can interact with equipment, meet founders, and explore technology. Throughout the day there are workshops, discussions on topics like innovation and space exploration, and curated sessions on various subjects. We encourage attendees to not only participate in these events but also to organise their own fringe events to add their unique touch to the festival. It’s open to anyone interested in tech and completely free to attend. We are excited to welcome students, professionals, and enthusiasts alike to join us in the celebration of technology and innovation. 

KW: How do you see the Festival contributing to the recognition and growth of the digital and tech scene in Bath?

LP: Bath Digital Festival plays a crucial role in showcasing the vibrant digital and tech ecosystem in Bath. While Bath has significant developments in this space, its visibility in the wider Southwest region might not be fully realised. By hosting the Festival, we aim to highlight the innovative work happening here and attract businesses to the area, encouraging them to establish, grow and thrive. Additionally, we seek to retain local talent, including students from our universities, by providing opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and start businesses within the community. The Festival serves as a platform to amplify the creative energy and entrepreneurial energy in Bath, thereby contributing to the long-term economic and social growth of the region.

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