Auril 2017 Conference Afterthoughts

Another AURIL conference has come to an end, this year with a powerful message about participation. That’s why we were all in Bristol of course – to take part in conversations large and small about our profession: the highs, the lows, the skills, the tips, what works, what doesn’t, where to find the money, how to spend it…the list goes on. A word cloud from the talks I heard would have Place, Design, Partners and Funding writ large: they are all vital components of Knowledge Exchange and all concepts that can be unpacked and unpicked to provide your own recipe for success.

Of all those keywords it is Design that has given me most food for thought, for two reasons.

1) A talk on design-led thinking was a tremendous example of the KE function adding value through intervention. Yes, your enterprise office will pay your patent costs but they may also be able to help you think about applications for your invention in a completely different way: whether that is out of necessity (as in this example) or perhaps a desire for a different kind of impact. This is far removed from the transaction driven image that can sometimes plague technology transfer and is something we need to surface more often.

2) Our fabulous final keynote on Service Design had me madly typing notes on a dying mobile phone as I thought about what this approach could do for PraxisAuril in terms of how we think about what we do for our members. It’s still true to say, unfortunately, that knowledge exchange and commercialisation doesn’t always have a very positive image among the very audiences it’s trying to reach (see above) – why is that? And how could Service Design help us to turn that image around?

A highlight of the conference was, of course, the unveiling of our new name and brand livery. The creation of PraxisAuril provides an opportunity for fresh starts and a trigger to (re)engage with members old and new: to Develop, Promote and Connect in different ways so that individuals, teams and institutions can make the best of where they are (Place) with the people they work with (Partners) and the resources they have to support that (Funding). Let’s start thinking creatively about that (Design). 

So, like any good conference, Auril 2017 has left me buzzing with ideas from listening to great speakers and talking to new people. I hope that we can, with your input and engagement, put some of them into action. Please do send us your thoughts and feedback (not about the beef, please, not about the beef…) about what you want and need from PraxisAuril and above all, put Telford 2018 in your diary now!