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XpoNorth unveils line-up for 2022 digital conference

Published: 07/04/2022

Online conference opens digital door to world-wide creative network

Scotland’s leading creative industries conference to bring exceptional calibre of international speakers to its digital stage.

One of the original designers at Dyson, the director of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre and a multi-award-winning author are among the leading professionals speaking at XpoNorth’s annual conference which will take place from 15 – 16 June. The free, digital conference will see dynamic regional, national and international speakers from the creative, digital and heritage sectors come together to discuss the key theme of this year’s conference: storytelling.  

With over 25 years of experience inventing, designing and developing innovative products for global brands, Gareth Jones was one of the original three-man design team at Dyson which revolutionised the vacuum cleaner market.  At a panel discussion on inventing, and designing, Gareth will share his insights into developing innovative products that solve real world problems.  

Conference delegates with a cultural heritage background will be excited to hear from Steve Gardam, director of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Throughout his career, Steve has worked in cultural organisations of all sizes, including London Metropolitan Archives, Imperial War Museums and London Transport Museum. He will share with a panel his experience of the last few years and his thoughts on how museums can best navigate this hybrid world.  

Award-winning author of the series ‘Underdogs’, Chris Bonnello, will take part in a session focusing on supporting and encouraging neurodiversity.  An autistic advocate, international speaker, writer and teacher, Chris launched ‘Autistic Not Weird’ to share his insights from both a personal and professional perspective, a venture which has seen him attract 155,000 Facebook followers and speaking engagements as far away as Australia and India.  

Embracing the storytelling theme, this year’s conference will hear from award winning poets, authors and literary agents in various sessions offering insights into the world of publishing. Robert Louis Stevenson award winning poet, Michael Pederson, will lead a session on poetry; indie authors John Jarrold and Amy Collins will explore ways in which agents and indie authors can and are working together; and Coinneach MacLeod, otherwise known as The Hebridean Baker, and award-winning author, Malachy Tallack, will discuss writing as a passion. 

Since early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged, the world has changed dramatically with creative industries having been amongst the hardest hit. XpoNorth, our specialist support to the creative, digital and heritage sectors, reacted and evolved our annual conference to a sustainable and environmentally friendly online model. This has brought new opportunities and audience benefits, whilst opening up access to expert knowledge for creatives across the globe. 

Several sessions at this year’s conference will focus on this shift. With Shared Perspectives: Driving Culture Through Place, a panel of speakers, including Iain Fionnlagh MacLeòid, Managing Director- Cànan Graphics Studio, Playwright, Screenwriter and Novelist, and Coinneach MacFhraing, Spors Gaelic Presenter, will explore, in Gaelic, the rich relationship between the creative industries and place, and how geography shapes and defines culture and creates meaning and value for communities and businesses. Another session, How Creativity Can Empower Rural Economies, will explore how creative businesses in rural economies can be argued to have as much, if not more to offer global consumers, especially in this digital age.  

Iain Hamilton, our Head of Creative Industries, and co-founder of XpoNorth, said, “It’s wonderful to be able to announce such an inspiring and diverse initial line-up of speakers set to appear at our third digital edition of XpoNorth. The creative economy and the world more broadly has changed significantly over recent years, and we’re excited to be offering a platform for important discussions on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector as we hopefully move into a new phase of recovery. 

“Producing the conference in a digital format brings a range of benefits to our networks; lowering logistical barriers increases access for our regional businesses and opening the experience up to a broader national and international audience. We’re working hard to continue to build on the immersive aspects of this exciting delivery model to ensure it’s easier than ever for the creative community to attend XpoNorth from wherever they are. Producing meaningful support to the creative and cultural sector across the region and offering a pathway into the international marketplace is at the heart of XpoNorth’s work, with our annual conference again offering a great opportunity to highlight the strength and diversity of the creative economy across the Highlands and Islands.” 

Delivered via the Socio platform, the conference will offer dedicated training spaces, networking opportunities, specialist advice sessions, digital trade stands and applications are now open for companies looking to take a virtual space at the conference.  

The full line up and further details will be announced in the coming weeks and months. To register interest in attending the conference, find out about trade stand applications, be kept up to date with the latest news from XpoNorth and to discover hundreds of engaging pieces of content please visit 

Delegates can now register to attend for free here.

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