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“Innovation is key, it just is”, says Ian Brow, CEO of UKFast as we sit down to talk about why the North is a hot bed for innovation ahead of Disruptors North next Wednesday.

For Brown innovation is something which is in the very DNA of the North and as such all Northern businesses.

As if to back up his assertion that innovation must be at the heart of all businesses he states: “There’s an old Jack Welch quote, here he said, ‘when the pace of change outside of business exceeds the pace with inside a business, the ends insight’ and he’s exactly right!”

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Ian Brown, CEO of UKFast talks innovation being key for businesses

The CEO who prior to joining the cloud hosting business in 2020 had been CEO of Rentalcars.com and BookingGO as well as an SVP of Booking.com, added: “In my experience you’ve got to be going faster inside a business [than the outside world] because you’re only going to create value if you’re either right at the coalface of creating something new for the early adopters or you’re in that second phase of growth expansion where the world’s now figured out this is the thing to do [and you] go take a part of that.”

In fact Brown continues stating that once a product hits maturity it begins the process of obsolescence and he emphasises “if that’s where your business is, then by definition, you’re doomed to shrinking market!”

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Innovation is in the DNA of the North

So how do you stay ahead of the curve, well he doesn’t give a definite answer – which may be a bit like revealing the philosophers stone and enabling the creation of gold from lead – but he does note that the secret is innovation.

He points out that everyone would like to be the disruptor – the Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos figure who predicts the market move before it happens and creates something that in turn generates vast amounts of wealth.

However, those stories and individuals are few and far between so he cites that the key for most businesses is to be “either there at the cutting edge or a fast follower” as he notes only through those two activities can you ensure your business is in the right place, as value migrates all the time and if you’re not putting your business there – Brown sums it up simply – “you’re stuffed”.


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The Disruptors North conference is a free one day event taking place on October 20. Brought to you by TheBusinessDesk.com alongside headline sponsors Deloitte, Clarion, UKFast and Quba and will challenge businesses to pick a side; the disruptor or the disrupted.

The virtual conference is also being sponsored by Nexus, Curveblock, Stickyeyes, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, WeLink and Ribble Cycles. It will showcase the businesses already leading the charge and innovating from the north and the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies that are aiming to transform the regional, national and global economy.

The free to attend event will also encourage and inspire business leaders and managers who know they need to become a disruptor. It will also inform you on what is being done by our politicians and policymakers to attract technology companies and investments, boost skills and create the conditions for innovative businesses to flourish.

To find out more or book your tickets click here.