Innovation at the edge: Lancaster social researchers collaborating with arts and industry in Orkney

Date: 22 September 2009

Energetic coastline of Orkney, Scotland

Lancaster University researchers will be collaborating with arts, industry and local government representatives from Orkney, Scotland, this week in a series of events that are a culmination of their exploration of innovation on the islands.

On 22nd September, Professor Lucy Suchman, Dr Laura Watts, and PhD student Endre Dányi from the Department of Sociology will host a one-day workshop in Stromness, Orkney, to discuss work to date on their research project, 'Relocating Innovation'. This international project questions our assumptions about innovation through studies based in Orkney, Silicon Valley, and Budapest.

In addition to the workshop Dr Laura Watts, who spent five months conducting research in Orkney last year, has collaborated with local publisher Alistair Peebles of Brae Editions to edit a collection of 49 different imagined Orkney futures. The book will be launched on the evening of 22 September at the event 'EQUINOX: An Evening For Orkney Futures' featuring poetry readings, film, photography, and extracts from the book.

Dr Watts said: "These two events are very important to me. After working alongside so many generous people in Orkney last year, these events begin to weave together the latest academic ideas about innovation with very practical questions around the future of the islands. The book I've had the pleasure of co-editing with Alistair Peebles is just one example of social theory put into practice.

"The future is not 'out-there' but is planned, designed, and made in everyday life. The landscape of Orkney, the people and place, makes a difference to how the future is imagined and made here.

"As a remote archipelago Orkney is sensitive to the environment, and the infrastructure of everyday life is far more visible here than in many places in the world. The islands' sensitivity - to the movement of energy, ecology, and consumer goods for example - leads to more environmentally-sensitive innovation. Orkney is a harbinger of futures only talked about elsewhere.

'EQUINOX: An Evening for Orkney Futures' will be held at The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney on 22nd September, 7:30pm. 'Orkney Futures: A Handbook' published by Brae Editions will be on sale priced £7.50 (available at The Orcadian Bookshop).

About Relocating Innovation

'Relocating Innovation: places and material practices of future-making' is a 3 year research project at the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. Further information is available on the project website at

News website:

This item was reported in: Orkney Today, The Orcadian on 24/09/2009


Further information

Associated staff: Laura Watts

Associated projects: Relocating Innovation: Places and material practices of future-making

Associated departments and research centres: Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Centre for Science Studies, Mobilities.Lab, Sociology