When the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) was charged with hosting the Global Forum for Nuclear Innovation following a successful first event in 2019, they turned to previous collaborator, brand experience agency Owl Live, to ensure it would be an event that would engage, challenge and motivate.
Co-organised by EDF, EPRI, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA) the event was held from 17th to 19th July 2022 at IET London: Savoy Place.
The main aim of the forum was to accelerate the cultural and behavioural transformation that is necessary for the nuclear industry to help tackle the global climate crisis, something that was brought into sharp relief by the event taking place on the two hottest days since records began in the UK.
Owl Live’s brief was to create an immersive two-day event that would drive change by focusing on the forum’s four key behaviours: Being a Challenger, Embracing Diversity, Being a Role Model and Having Courage. The agency had already assisted the steering committee in identifying these behaviours during the programme’s initial research and consultancy phase, before testing them with the audience through a pre-comms survey.
From the moment BBC presenter Fran Scott introduced proceedings, followed by a rap by academic, author and performer Jon Chase that vividly and powerfully highlighted the impact of climate change, the audience realised this was to be no ordinary conference.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the quartet of immersive and interactive breakout workshops that spearheaded this first day’s proceedings.
Each of these sessions was based around one of the four behaviours: Inspiring participants to think how their behaviour is a key enabler of effective innovation, Being a Challenger saw them tasked with building a car using a short list of materials including paper, card and confectionary before putting their model to a speed and cost test, and ultimately challenging the audience to do more than simply create a better version of what already exists.
To demonstrate Embracing Diversity, attendees were asked to wear thinking hats (as a homage to that ‘guru’ of lateral thinking Dr Edward De Bono) as a means of exploring the value of diversity of thought in achieving effective outcomes.
Ensuring guests got to actually taste the ingredients of Being a Role Model, they were asked to create smoothies, with each foodstuff representing a particular character strength. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see! The session was with Dr Rahul Mandal, a research scientist at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) better known as the winner of the Great British Bake Off 2018.
Finally, to switch the focus to Having Courage, Owl Live recreated TV’s Million Pound Drop, complete with contestants and very vocal audience participation, where delegates explored the relationship between risk and reward.
The following day attendees had to adapt these behaviours in a series of Grand Challenge Workshops, which focussed on such key themes as scarcity of talent in the industry, innovation in a regulated environment, and the nuclear industry’s role beyond electricity generation in tackling climate change. Sessions were hosted by subject-matter experts, who outlined the challenge and then invited attendees to come up with ideas they could take back and implement in their spheres of influence.
Throughout the two days, delegates also enjoyed keynote addresses from such prominent figures as Ming Tang, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at NHS England, and Sama Bilbao y Leon, Director General of the World Nuclear Association.
The reaction from organisers and delegates alike demonstrated that Owl Live had not simply fulfilled their brief but exceeded it. Attendees left exhilarated and motivated to build a mutual vision for the nuclear industry’s future.
“NNL put their complete trust in us, allowing us to steer them towards a more strategic, creative and immersive path. We knew we were pushing our delegates out of their comfort zone but from the moment they bravely engaged with our rapper, we knew all would be well! The fact that delegates left the event empowered to put the forum’s behaviours to use in a practical setting, was the ultimate validation.”
Lauren Mucklow, joint managing partner of Owl Live
Commented Dr Rob Whittleston, Director for International Engagement, Security & Non-Proliferation at National Nuclear Laboratory, "Owl Live went above and beyond to create a hugely impactful event and we should not lose sight that this was something never before seen in the sector.
“The design and the delivery of every session was executed perfectly and resonated strongly with 180 delegates from 22 countries – not easy when perspectives, cultures, and indeed the culture, vary so considerably. Most importantly it has given them inspiration to think differently, and something to talk about – which they certainly are doing!”