Welcome to Exeter in Devon, all of you who are attending the Like Minds conference this week (Thursday and Friday, October 28 and 29).
The success of the Like Minds conference is a great credit to the organisers, the speakers, the sponsors, the local community and, of course, the participants. With each conference, there has been an increase in its scale, duration, diversity and ambition.
The world class experience available at Like Minds is exemplary.
As someone who was brought up in Tiverton (13 miles north of Exeter), attended university in the south west of England (in Bath) and, despite having lived and worked elsewhere for about 20 years, has been based in Devon again for the last 15 years, it is great to welcome you to this part of the world.
Having attended a couple of other world class conferences this year – a conference on innovation in June in Norway with a worldwide reach, and a more focussed conference on innovation management last week in Switzerland with a regional reach – I can assure you that Like Minds stands tall.
It has even been suggested that Like Minds is a prototype for a new type of conference.
If you know the origins of this conference, you probably know that it is not really about Exeter, it is about the community of like minded people everywhere. The leadership, coordination and efforts of Scott Gould and Drew Ellis are the attracting force behind the conference and are focussed on bringing people together in Exeter.
The spirit of the conference comes from everywhere and travels with everyone involved; much of the original spirit actually comes from people in Greenville, South Carolina and is now reinforced by many more people from many parts of the world, Europe, the UK and, of course, Exeter itself.
Nevertheless, Exeter is the home and physical presence of Like Minds and long may that continue!
So together with many other people of Exeter, Devon and the South West of England, may I say: