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What will the world be like in 2050?

In October, 11 NCASS students made the long journey down to Coventry to attend the ICAEW Business Futures and find out more about what the world could be like in 2050. Not just limited to the accounting world, the conference covered a wide range of topics with consideration also given to the future of fashion, architecture and even the universe.

It was an informative day hosted by Konnie Huq (unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side and no-one from our team managed to win a coveted Blue Peter badge…) with special attendance from ICAEW President Andrew Radcliffe, who will also be in attendance at October’s NorSCA dinner.

Ian Merchant kick-started proceedings with a session entitled 'Can we keep the lights on?' This was an interesting discussion that addressed one of the most pressing current questions: will we have sufficient resources to manage the future supply and demand of energy? With energy the second highest cost to businesses after payroll, Ian made it clear that the time to engage with energy is now. It is up to us all to stand up and do something today, to ensure the future of tomorrow.

Next to take to the podium was Mitch Feirstein who wanted us all to 'Party like its 1929'. This session reviewed the financial status of America, the Eurozone and the United Kingdom and drove home the point that providing liquidity does not solve insolvency. Especially relevant in today’s current economic climate, this was a useful and informative session that debated how best to solve financial crises.

'The city of the future' soon followed by John Prevc and was an engaging discussion around how the structure of a city can affect the productivity of individuals and businesses alike. He suggested that by 2050 cities were going to be far more social and inclusive, with better transport links and amenities and a much higher level of flexibility. Cities will have a symbiotic relationship with demand and will be able to respond to the needs of people. It also became apparent that the smallest of changes can have the biggest of differences, with the addition of green spaces linked to a rise in both quality of life and longevity.

In the afternoon Pete Templeton from boohoo.com highlighted the company's major milestones over the past nine years, with specific focus on international growth levels. Technology played a key part in this session with Pete discussing the latest fashion advances currently in development, including apps that allow the user to tailor designs with their own personal touch and even one that allows you to photograph garments in order to find out where you can buy them. He then handed over to twelve sets of fashion students from Coventry University who wowed with their design of 2050’s “must have” look – from survival to technological entertainment, their imagination and styling was extremely vivid.

The day ended with a fascinating key-note address from Professor Brian Cox whose three key themes for 2050 saw him discuss the origins of the universe, the future of nuclear fusion and the age-old question that everyone wants to know the answer to: are we really alone in the universe?* Left feeling insignificant in the vastness of the universe, the audience then got the chance to question him about time travel, alternative universes and teleportation (which is actually possible!). A perfect way to end a highly interesting and thought-provoking day.

*Spoiler alert: Brian thinks not, and is pretty confident that by 2050 we will have found proof of life on other planets.