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Alternate Futures, Manchester

Thu 18th July, 9am–5pm

Technology changes everything. From how we create, play and consume, to how we live and connect in our towns and cities — the future isn’t what it used to be.

King's House Conference Centre, King's Church, Sidney Street, Manchester. M1 7HB

Imagine you have just time travelled to 2050. Greater Manchester is the kind of inclusive, forward-thinking, well-designed place we want it to be. 

How have we challenged the boundaries that we once faced living in the “original modern city” and the wider Greater Manchester region. And instead of allowing technology to distract us, how can we harness digital tools to better shape the future together?

Presented as part of Distractions, Alternate Futures invites you to explore and develop ideas for an alternate future. A future that is more connected, more collaborative and one that makes space to amplify different voices.



Download the programme




Welcome from GM Digital
Speakers: Phil Swan (Chief Information Officer and GM Digital Lead, GMCA) and Cllr Elise Wilson (GM Digital Portfolio lead)

Introduced by Claire Tymon, Executive Director, FutureEverything
Greater Manchester prides itself for thinking differently, for testing ideas and creating innovation. We revolutionise ideas for the future and consider technology as an enabler, not a driver. With so many start-ups, pilot projects and inventions, it can be hard to keep up with the innovation and best practice happening in Greater Manchester. From grassroots projects to larger corporations, we have selected a few stories to share with you today. Followed by audience Q&A.

Speakers include: Andrew Gilligan (Head of Research, City Football Group), Katie Jones (Fresh), artist Brendan Dawes, Alex Nelson (BBC R&D Future Experiences) and Nichola McAvoy (Founder of ALLY)

Introduced by Irini Papadimitriou, Creative Director, FutureEverything
How is art harnessing new technologies? Tracing the Sky is an immersive, mixed reality installation under a Victorian shopping arcade, filling the architecture with dreamlike skyscapes that visitors can interact with using OPPO mobile phones and augmented reality.

Presented by Fu Yihan (Creative Designer, OPPO London Design Centre) and Jiayu Liu (Artist, Tracing the Sky).

Introduced by Marvin Mensah, Urban talent scout, promoter and manager
Imagine the wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas we have between us? Now start to map these out with the person next to you and consider the strength in our connectivity and the potential in our own ecosystem. How can we all connect and benefit, share ideas and skills for the greater good? Where do they connect / collaborate / network. What does the GM digital landscape look like now?

In this workshop you are invited to connect with those around you and create your own ecosystem.

Experience a showcase of art and tech exhibitions and demonstrations from: Noise Orchestra, >THREAD{}, Sophie Bullock, Sean Clarke and Chris Paul Daniels.



Introduced by Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester is striving to be a top five digital city in Europe. How do we achieve this and what is our unique role to achieve this? Is it achievable? Through a series of facilitated workshops, you are invited to co-author Greater Manchester’s digital future.

Workshop hosts: Tech for Good Live, Reform Radio, The Digital Imagination and BBC Connected Studio.

A parallel creative Lab has been taking place at the emerging School of Digital Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University. Artists, coders, technologists and all-round good people have been prototyping ideas for the future. You will be invited to vote for your favourite idea!

Technology is defining how we term the next demographic cohort. Researchers have presented us with Generation Z who are pushing digital boundaries, are ethically more aware but with short attention spans and are more distracted. This panel session will explore the impact and how technology can improve the future of work and society.

Speakers: Kiera Lawlor (Director of Happiness and People, Social Chain), Victoria Knight (Strategic Pursuits Director, BAE Applied Intelligence) and Sophie Ashcroft (UX Researcher, Artist and Alternate Futures Lab participant).
Chaired by Paul Bason (Director Digital Innovation, School of Digital Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University).

Presented by Wayne Hemingway MBE.

An opportunity to spend some informal networking time, meeting your fellow workshop participants and making connections across Greater Manchester.

Alternate Futures delegates are invited to attend a new artwork, Tracing the Sky by artist Jiayu Liu. Presented by FutureEverything. Sponsored by OPPO. Due to limited spaces, delegates are invited to sign up at the event registration desk on a first come, first served basis.

Exhibition: 14 – 20 July 2019, 12-8pm
Brickworks, Barton Arcade, 48 Barton Square, Manchester M3 2BH


Alternate Futures is part of Distractions, a three-day summit of debates, talks, panels, content and new music showcases with some of the world’s leading tech companies, artists and producers. Presented by Manchester International Festival, Sound City and FutureEverything, developed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Combined Authority… the future starts here!

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