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About David Kelly

Dave is Co-Founder and Managing Director at Storm. He's winner of Young Business Person of the Year at the Bath Business awards, and sits on the organising teams of BathSPARK, Creative Bath and the Bath Digital Festival. You can follow Dave on twitter: @dhkelly
Author Archive | David Kelly

Bath SPARKCamp: eCommerce edition

This week’s BathSPARK event came with a twist – a brand new format mixing the best of BathSPARK and BathCamp events, all focused on the theme of eCommerce.

As one of Bath’s largest eCommerce companies, local sex toy retailer Lovehoney very generously sponsored the event, hosting us at their warehouse and supplying a fantastic buffet and drinks. From everyone who attended – thank you Lovehoney!

The evening kept BathSPARK’s networking, but added talks from Tom Robertshaw, CEO of eCommerce website developers Meanbee, and tours from Richard and Neil of the Lovehoney warehouse.

The feedback so far has been fantastic – so we’re keen to run another event with this format in the future. If you have any ideas for exciting venues or themes please let us know!

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University of Bath Centre for Digital Entertainment

Digital entertainment research from the University of Bath is benefitting organisations across the UK.

Double Negative is one of the countries leading animation companies, responsible for the dragons in Harry Potter and cheeky alien Paul. Research carried out at Bath’s Centre for Digital Entertainment is feeding into the development of this internationally recognised company.

And outside the film sector the Centre continues to have impact. The National Trust is working with researchers to harness cutting edge technologies that will allow it to better engage audiences, and bring cultural artifacts to life.

To learn more about Bath’s Centre for Digital Entertainment see this new video produced through the University’s Knowledge Transfer Account:

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Congratulations Bardowl!

Congratulations to Bardowl CEO Chris Book on winning the CEO Summit Award for Innovation this week at the Meffys awards.

The Meffy’s are coveted global awards for mobile content and commerce, and are the industry’s official benchmark for measuring success and rewarding innovation.

Now in their 9th year, entries from over 35 countries were represented at the awards ceremony, and were judged by expert panels of independent journalists, analysts, academics and VCs.

The CEO Summit Award for Innovation is a new award category, and recognises the most innovative products, services and initiatives in mobile content and commerce over the past year.

Participants pitched their businesses to 200 assembled leaders from leading mobile entertainment and commerce organisations around the world. The CEOs then voted for the best company to win the award.

Chris received the global accolade for his startup Bardowl, which is rapidly reinventing the audiobook. Bardowl subscribers pay just £9.99 a month for unlimited immediate access to a diverse audiobook catalogue, and favourite books are cached for those awkward moments when there is no internet signal.

Chris said: “Our objective with Bardowl was to get more people listening to audiobook content – especially those who are time-poor and always on the go. Our business model really opens up the world of audiobooks to those who wouldn’t have previously considered listening to books rather than reading them.

“Winning the Meffy award is a huge honour. Having our innovation recognised on the international stage by the MEF CEO summit is phenomenally exciting – and it means a lot that mobile CEOs get what we’re doing.

“I am really grateful to those who’ve helped get Bardowl to this point, with special thanks to designer Laura Kalbag and Bath-based app developers Intohand.”

Chris received the award at a glistening event in London, hosted by singer and comedian Paddy Cullivan and his band, the Camembert Quartet. The ceremony was attended by an international audience of top industry executives and press.

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Encourage your teens to showcase their creative talent!

Bath is to host a prestigious TEDxYouth event for a second year running on 20 November 2012 at Komedia.

As part of the event, the city’s 16 to 19 year olds are invited to enter two competitions over the summer break that will give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in either songwriting or video production.

Aspiring songwriters need to compose an original song and submit it to the TEDxYouth@Bath website.

The winner will be provided with professional engineering and production time, and the song will be given its first public airing at the conference on 20th November.

Their song will also be showcased to an international audience – through being put forward to be part of TED’s global music competition which aims to compile and share the best musical performances from the over 1,700 TEDx events around the world.

Filmmakers can enter a competition for three-minute films that reflect one of the conference’s themes – make, build or grow. The winning films will open each session of the event, and runners up will be available to view on the TEDxYouth@Bath YouTube channel and website.

The competitions are open to all those aged between 16 and 19 years of age, and living within a 25-mile radius of Bath. The closing date for entries is 30th September 2012. 

TED is a non-profit organisation which started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago. TEDx events are independent, externally organised events which bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

TEDxYouth@Bath aims to bring these world-changing ideas to a younger audience – 16 to 19 year olds on the cusp of leaving school or further education.  It will give them a taste of the wonderful world of inspiring ideas that exists, will introduce them to the extraordinary people who are creating outstanding projects, and will encourage them to become a part of this world and to contribute to it.

Curator of TEDxYouth@Bath, Charlotte Calkin, said: “These competitions are a unique opportunity to showcase the talent of young people in Bath. You don’t need any previous experience of filmmaking or songwriting to get involved – we’re really looking for fresh ideas and raw talent.”

All of the city’s sixth forms will be sending students to TEDxYouth@Bath, however it is also open to individuals and is free to attend. Those interested in attending are able to find out more information and apply for tickets on the event website: www.tedxyouthbath.com.

You can follow @TEDxYouthBath on Twitter for updates, or tweet using the official hashtag #TEDxYouthBath12.

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Bath’s first Girl Geek event a success

The city’s first Girl Geek Dinners have been launched this summer, with the aim of increasing female participation in the city’s thriving digital scene.

The city is fast becoming known for its digital industries, with recent events like the Digital Festival, X Media Lab and TEDxYouth putting the city on the international map.

‘Girl Geek Dinners’ were first established in London in 2005, and are now run in cities around the world. The dinners are not only aimed at connecting women already working in the IT and computing sector, but also at encouraging more women and girls to see this as a career option.

Bath Girl Geeks was started by a group of friends who recognised that, as is common in the digital sector, only a small number of the participants in Bath’s recent digital events were female.

The first session, held last week at the Innovation Centre, attracted 30 women from careers as diverse as computing, engineering, mathematics and the sciences.

Parm Dlay was part of the team responsible for setting up the event. She said: “It is clear that there are barriers that prevent women and girls from entering IT and computing. However, this is one of few sectors currently seeing growth and creating employment, so it’s essential that we address some of these issues and help more women into this traditionally male-dominated field.

“Our first session went really well, everyone who took part seemed to appreciate an opportunity to network with like minded women, and lots of ideas for activities to develop our own skills and to encourage others into the sector were discussed.

“We’re now looking at arranging talks and training for Girl Geek members, opportunities to speak to young women at local schools and colleges, and ways in which we can encourage more women to participate with the networks that already exist for the digital sector in Bath.”

The Girl Geek Dinner held in Bath was not limited to those working or interesting in IT or computing, and welcomed a large number of scientists and engineers, along with those who are currently not involved in the sector but with ambitions to become involved in the future.

Parm added: “Our first event was a fantastic opportunity to meet women with a wide variety of interests and expertise, and I believe that between us we can achieve a great deal through this network.”

The group will next meet on Thursday 11 October – more information can be found on http://bath.girlgeekdinners.com/.

Parm Dlay, Tatjana Humphries, Katrina James and Katharine Reeve started the network.


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Burst Training launches in Bath

A new training provider, Burst Training for Business, is launching this month in Bath with a series of intensive 90-minute events focused on core digital business skills.

The first set of courses provides everything local businesses need to know about digital marketing in three quick weekly sessions, delivered by tech entrepreneur John Straw.

John is an energetic digital marketing entrepreneur with 17 years experience in digital strategy and business development.

John said: “Bath is an extremely tech-savvy city, quickly becoming known for its digital expertise. In starting Burst Training, we’re filling a niche in here for training in this fast-moving sector.

“However for a lot of local companies digital is not a core activity, and while they may recognise the profound impact that digital marketing might have on their business they need to get to grips with it quickly and thoroughly in order to make it work for them.

“Our first training course, focused on digital marketing, will provide a comprehensive, professional and practical understanding of all the elements that make up marketing on the internet and participants will learn how to identify, create and execute a digital marketing strategy for their business.

“The Burst Training concept is highly effective – even for those who know nothing about digital in advance, the 90 minute sessions are comprehensive and intensive, so they’ll be completely up to speed by the end.”

The first course will include three weekly sessions held at Bath Innovation Centre, on Thursday 21 June (Mastering search engine optimisation), Thursday 28 June (Managing pay-per-click marketing) and Thursday 5 July (Using social media as part of the digital marketing mix and preparing your business for the digital future).

Those interested in the sessions can find out more by visiting www.bursttraining.co.uk

The official Twitter hashtag for the event is #BurstBath

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International programming conference comes to Bath

The University of Bath is hosting the ‘28th Conference on the Mathematical Foundations of Programming Semantics’ (MFPS) in June, in yet another move that puts the city on the map for digital expertise.

The annual event is traditionally hosted at top research universities in North America and Europe, including Oxford and Birmingham in the UK and Carnegie-Mellon in the US.

Programming is the process of designing, writing, testing and maintaining the source code, or instructions, of computer programmes. Programmers use a variety of different programming languages – based on mathematical principles.

The conference in Bath is dedicated to the theoretical, fundamental areas of mathematics, logic and computer science that are related to models of computation, in general, and to the semantics of programming languages in particular.

The event will provide a forum for researchers in mathematics and computer science to meet and exchange ideas, discuss problems and create collaborations.

Professor Guy McCusker and Dr John Power from the University of Bath’s Logic and Semantics group in the Department of Computer Science are hosting the event.

Professor McCusker said: “Hosting this well established event, which harks back to the work of Alan Turing and foundational work in computing, here in Bath, is testament to the excellent standard of mathematical computational research taking place.

“This strength in fundamental computer science at one end of the scale really complements the local buzz of applied digital activity at the other.

“The MFPS conference confirms Bath’s role as a leading participant in international computing research. The event brings together experts in a field that lays the foundations for a reliable, safe and secure software-enabled future, and is a fantastic opportunity for our staff and students to rub shoulders with leaders in the global theoretical computer science community.”

This is the second time in a matter of months that an international digital conference has put Bath on the map – with the X Media Lab making a big impact in March.

The conference will include sessions on topics from constructive mathematics, programming language theory and formal languages through to game semantics and quantum computation.

The event takes place from 6 – 9 June 2012, and is partially supported by the US Office of Naval Research.

To find out more contact Guy McCusker via his website, http://www.cs.bath.ac.uk/~gam23/

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An interview with Margaret Heffernan

I recently had the pleasure of meeting entrepreneur, CEO and writer (Huffington Post & BNET) Margaret Heffernan, when she visited Bath to mentor groups as part of X Media Lab 2012.

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Margaret has featured on television in Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Millionaire’ and on BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Changing the Rules’.

I spoke to Margaret about her work, her experiences as an entrepreneur, and her opinions on mentoring. Here are just some of the insightful comments she made on the subject:

DK: Hi Margaret! A quick one to start. Have you always been an entrepreneur?

MH: No. For 13 years I worked for the BBC. I reckon they paid me to develop the skills I’d need to be an entrepreneur: a good deal for all of us.

DK: How important do you think the role of a mentor is in the initial start-up period of a business? Did you have someone to fit this role?

MH: I did not have a mentor and I wish I had. I did have some friends and colleagues who were wise and patient – that certainly helped (especially the one who hinted that I might be the problem)!

DK: Do you find it difficult to maintain a work/home life balance?

MH: I define work/life balance differently perhaps from others. I think that there has been balance across my life, insofar as there have been prolonged periods of intensive, manic work and then prolonged periods that were slow, reflective and restorative. Doreen Marks, an outstanding entrepreneur, summed it up for me when she said “when you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter which 80 hours you work.” You have freedom and flexibility – that’s tremendous. You also have responsibility that never stops – that’s hard. What is essential, I think, is that your partner is entirely supportive; without that, jealousy and resentment can grow and make both the business and the relationship painful.

DK: When does an idea become a business?

MH: An idea becomes a business when you have a customer. Revenue helps too of course but sometimes that has to come later.

DK: For anyone sitting at home with an amazing business idea, what one piece of advise would you give them?

MH: Tell people about it. Many people worry about their idea being ‘stolen’. That is much less of a risk than that it will never become a reality. Tell people so you become practiced defining it and so that they can offer ideas, people, and resources that will speed you along your way. They may also have very valid criticisms that are cheaper to absorb early.

DK:  What role do you think entrepreneurs will play in the recovery of our economy?

MH: Well it’s interesting to me the lipservice that’s paid in the UK to entrepreneurship. Does anyone believe it? If so, why aren’t there better finance and tax schemes? Why, as a society, are we horrid to successful people and punishing to those who fail? This government still clearly believes that our future belongs in financial services and the investment of rich foreigners. They pay lipservice to entrepreneurs because they can’t think of anything else that might work. Politicians, of course, are rarely entrepreneurial themselves.

Having said that, of course entrepreneurs will play a part in our recovery – because they always have and always will. But no real entrepreneur waits for government encouragement.

DK: Thanks Margaret! How can our readers contact you with questions?

MH: They can email me at margaret@mheffernan.com but need to be aware that I’m not investing in anything further until my kids have finished their education (which could be some time…)

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An interview with Jem Finer

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Jem Finer, formerly of the Pogues, more recently the driving force behind Mobile Sinfonia. Mobile Sinfonia, which was launched at the Roman Baths during the recent Digital Festival, is a global composition of ringtones set to compile rings from around the world over coming years.

Jem is also the artist in residence in the Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts and Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath.

For more about Jem’s project visit the Mobile Sinfonia website or follow @MobileSinfonia on twitter.

DK: Hi Jem! Tell us a bit about Mobile Sinfonia and let us know what inspired it? 

JF: The fact that mobile phones, all capable of emitting sound, are now virtually ubiquitous creates the potential for both intrusion into and enhancement of the soundscape – the sonic landscape on both a local and global scale.

It also creates the conditions for creating musical composition, either from individual devices, or in the case of Mobile Sinfonia, from the interaction of many.

Inspiration came from thinking about creating ringtones with an ear to enriching the soundscape, and at the same time, through their careful choice, to create a composition of indeterminate duration and score. In effect distributing the elements of a musical composition among a potential global community of “players” / “notes”.


DK: What motivated you to first get involved with the music industry?

JF: I never was. I played music and that happened as a consequence. Most of the time now I make music that is un-commodifiable !


DK: How has your relationship with music changed over the time you’ve been involved? 

JF: It’s got deeper both in the sense that what I consider to be music has broadened, and that I am always learning.


DK: What kind of mobile phone do you have, and why?

JF: I have an iPhone. Why? Because I am an Apple user, so it integrates with everything else I have computer wise, and because even if I wasn’t I prefer its interface. I actually think that as a phone it is not great, but otherwise the most remarkable device.


DK: What music have you been listening to recently?

JF: It depends how you define recent. But generally I listen to all kinds of music. Today, according to my shuffle play log, I’ve listened to Eric Dolphy, The Rolling Stones, Christian Zanessi, yoB, David Toop, Boris Vian, Ramuntcho Matta, Kitty Finer, DM Bob, Sonny and Cher and The Marseille Figs.


DK: Who do you really admire in the music industry at the moment?

JF: 3 of the above: Kitty Finer, J Maizlish Mole and the Marseille Figs and yoB.


DK: What is next for you after Mobile Sinfonia?

JF: Over the next year I’m building a gravity driven 8-bit computer using ball bearings which will calculate simple musical scores and play them. In the shorter term I’m finishing converting a caravan into a space ship, ¡ Arriba ! for the Tatton Park Biennial.


DK: Thanks Jem! Last question, how can our readers contact you with questions?

JF: They can get hold of me at info@mobilesinfonia.net

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