HUNDREDS of delegates from Scotland’s SMEs community will today hear from world-class leaders from the likes of LEGO and Harvard Kennedy School about how innovation can help them grow.

Scotland’s CAN DO Innovation Summit – part of the VentureFest Scotland festival of innovation – will connect small and medium-sized enterprises with leading innovators, academics, entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe to help them to grow and transform their business.

A raft of Scotland’s most innovative SMEs will be at the event, which features a range of innovation heavyweights, such as Jenn Gustetic, digital research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, who has also held positions at the White House and NASA.

Gustetic, who is one of the keynote speakers, said ahead of the summit: “I’m delighted to come to Scotland and address such a flagship event. I can see unprecedented opportunities starting to emerge for the country’s SMEs.

“By combining disruptive new technologies with human problem-solving and creativity, companies can get valuable solutions to grow and scale their businesses amidst the challenges of the 21st century, such as ageing societies, the impacts of AI and big data, chronic disease and the effects of climate change.”

Another guest speaker is ex-pat Glaswegian Morgan Walker, who now leads design, experience and innovation in LEGO’s Creative Play Lab in Denmark.

The summit will help SMEs navigate the range of support in Scotland, and beyond, available to them along their innovation journey. Innovate UK and several key investors will share funding and investment opportunities that are available.

Allan Cannon, CEO and co-founder of R3-IoT, which provides advanced satellite communications services in remote locations, said: “R3-IoT has developed a product capable of delivering IoT connectivity and services to some of the most remote parts of the world and innovation has been the catalyst for us moving forward as a start-up since we launched last year, helping us to grow and embrace the possibilities that are out there for us.

“I’m looking forward to sharing our story at the Innovation Summit and hearing how the connectivity landscape is evolving and how SMEs are harnessing the potential of these new technologies for their companies.”

Another keynote speaker is Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, who said: “The CAN DO Summit is the perfect platform for Scotland to showcase its thriving innovation sector. It provides a great opportunity to see world-leaders in business demonstrating how new technologies can be combined with creative cultures to make Scottish businesses more innovative.

“The Scottish Government shares CAN DO’s vision for Scotland to become a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative society, a place where growth and innovation go hand in hand, with wider benefits for all.”

Dr Susie Mitchell, programme director at Glasgow City of Science and Innovation - the lead agency for VentureFest Scotland added: “Scottish SMEs are the lifeblood of the Scottish economy – accounting for 99% of private sector enterprises and support around 1.2 million jobs. However, too few SMEs are active in innovating products or services and for those that do, only a small proportion collaborate with others or focus on the potential of international markets.

“By having support mechanisms such as Innovation Summit, we can empower SMEs to drive innovation and reach Scotland’s ambition to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best performing countries, while tackling some of the biggest challenges of our time.”