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Sir Richard Branson debates future of UK business with leading brands and start-ups

Smart shop mirrors and programmable clothes amongst “visions of future” shared at Virgin Media Business 30/30 Vision event

Social media-integrated shop mirrors, changes to our food chains, and 3D printed clothes are just some of the “visions” of the future of UK business, according to a discussion by entrepreneurs and start-ups at the Vision 30/30 event led by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Media Business today.

Hosted at Southbank’s County Hall, the event aimed to consider the challenges, breakthroughs and trends of the next 30 years of enterprise and concentrated on six key sectors; healthcare, retail, food, media and entertainment, fashion and beauty, and social enterprise.

30 start-ups, including food delivery service Packed Munches and menswear service The Chapar, joined with business leaders from brands and organisations such as All Saints, Buzzfeed and The World Retail Congress, to debate what their industry will look like by 2044.

Following a brainstorm session on the EDF Energy London Eye, each industry group shared their “visions” of the future with several insights for the retail and fashion sectors including nanotechnology; sensory tech embedded into the fabric of our clothes which can tell us if we’re lacking vitamins or putting on too much weight.

Additional predictions for the retail sector included the smart-shop mirror, dubbed “mirror mirror on the wall” by Sir Branson, which would be integrated with social media networks to allow your friends to log on and share their opinion on the outfit you’re trying on, as well as 3D-printed clothes and shoes, and co-created garments.

Smarter ways of working was also on the agenda with Virgin Media Business managing director Peter Kelly arguing that we should think of work “as something we do, not somewhere we go”, with virtual reality meetings pointed to as a solution to enable flexible and long-distance working.

Changes to our food supply chains are also expected within the 30 next years; online food marketplace FarmDrop suggested that it “won’t be long until consumers can go online and buy food directly from the producer”.

Each of the “visions” shared at the event will be posted each day in July on the 30/30 Vision website and entrepreneurs and “future-gazing” individuals are being encouraged to share their own insights on the future of UK enterprise.

Discussing “visions” of the future, Sir Branson said:

“The last 30 years have seen dramatic developments in how businesses operate and interact with their customers – not least the enormous possibilities generated by the internet and digital technology. It’s great to see the imagination and enthusiasm of the 30:30 Vision participants leading the way on showing how that vision might take shape.

Virgin Media Business’ MD, Kelly, continued: “Our country’s small businesses are real visionaries. Although the future is complex and unknown, they are ready to seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

“What we’ve seen today shows that emerging innovations and technologies are being taken on by all sizes of businesses and organisations to cement their competitive advantage and be truly successful.”

You can share your thoughts on the future of UK business here.

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