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DCMS: guided by the Science Museum

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) took its Future Tech Forum to the Science Museum. CN learns more.

The DCMS took its Future Tech Forum to London’s Science Museum on 29-30 November. The event facilitated frank exchanges between democratic governments on future public policy issues and discussions on emerging developments in the sector, identifying public policy gaps, areas for collaboration and issues requiring further exploration. There was also a need to build consensus on the most significant shared challenges relating to the development and use of future technologies, and the role of governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders in addressing them while increasing assurance that tech will champion open society values. The event’s organiser answers Conference News’ questions: Who attended? We had around 200 delegates attending per day, including ministers, government officials and senior representatives from industry, academia, and civil society.

Did Covid affect this event in any way?

The event was designed to be an invite-only, in-person forum with an option for a small number of virtual attendees. Due to Covid, the event dates were moved from September to November to maximise in-person attendance.

How did you feel about organising an event post-pandemic? Did you implement any Covid measures?

Management of events during the pandemic has become another factor to consider in the overall planning for events and we would anticipate that this will continue for some time. We introduced a range of Covid measures, including an International Event Exemption due to the type and travel requirements of an international audience.

Why did you choose the Science Museum?

The Science Museum provides some amazing and interesting spaces in which to stage an event, and the museum is particularly pertinent to the type of event we were organising i.e., a Future Tech Forum. Also, the galleries provided airy and well-ventilated spaces for our delegates.

How did you choose which spaces you wanted to use?

We chose Level 5 of Illuminate as our plenary space due to it being purpose-built for this type of event, and chose Flight for catering due to its size and available space. We selected Information Age as one of our breakout spaces due to its gallery content being pertinent to our forum discussions, whilst the Smith Centre was used as a gathering space for ministers and for the most important bilateral meetings.

What were the benefits of using Illuminate for your main plenary?

Illuminate was ideal for our main plenary as we were able to set the space up while the museum was closed; it’s an adaptable space. The standout feature of Illuminate was the views across London.

Who were your catering and AV partners?

We used the Science Museum’s in-house catering and AV partners – Moving Venue and White Light – as well as our production company, Identity. The virtual production set up was bespoke.

What catering was provided at the event?

Moving Venue provided menus designed both with current British and International food trends. as well as ingredient seasonality being at the forefront. Sustainability, including provenance and carbon footprint, was also an important consideration.

For the breakfast bowls and break snacks, Moving Venue created ‘brain food’ dishes that focused on healthy and wholesome ingredients such as low-fat Dorset yoghurt, fresh autumnal British fruits and slow-releasing jumbo oats from Somerset. For those needing heartier items, sautéed mushrooms from Essex on truffle toast with spinach and the ever-popular bacon sandwiches, using meat from the south coast, were also provided.

The lunches featured internationally inspired dishes such as buttermilk chicken with muhammara sauce, ratatouilles and a vegan sweet potato and lentil dahl, rounded off by delicious British desserts including Blackberry cheesecake with olive oil shortbread and Blood orange trifle.

Showcasing Britain’s traditional offerings, Moving Venue offered a play on the classic ‘fish and chips’ with triple cooked potato chips, malt vinegar, salt and smoked trawled cod roe with MSC sustainability certification. Finally, with a nod to the Great British coastline we offered a baked ‘blue label’ hake fillet with mixed roast vegetables, potato dauphinoise and bacon butter.

What AV provisions were required?

White Light supplied all lighting to enhance the different areas used in the most effective way possible. Working closely with lighting designer Robert Jones, the equipment selected served to reflect the conference’s future tech focus, while highlighting the unique exhibits and architectural features of the main galleries.

White Light also supplied power distribution across the numerous spaces, including for several third-party suppliers, ensuring that all BS7909 standards were adhered to. With different set-ups for the main plenary over the two event days, White Light helped to facilitate a fast-overnight turnaround needed to meet the tight itinerary for this high-profile event.

What feedback did you receive from guests?

The event was attended by the secretary of state for DCMS, other DCMS ministers, senior government officials, senior executives from industry, academia and civil society and international delegations from a range of different countries. Feedback from delegates across all these groups has been extremely positive.

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