Bupa eco-Disruptive Live

Bupa launched their sustainability strategy ‘Taking on the planet as their newest patient’, with the aim of positioning themselves as leaders of sustainable healthcare.

In line with this strategy, they started eco-Disruptive in 2021 – an internal programme dedicated to finding, funding, and supporting start-ups with innovative ideas for improving people’s health and the health of the planet.

In 2023, Bupa partnered with WMP Creative to expand this internal initiative into an external event in London that would showcase and celebrate the pioneering sustainability products, services and technologies supported by the eco-Disruptive programme. The objective was to provide a platform for the programme’s start-ups to promote themselves as well as invite corporate partners and business leaders in a one-day celebration of human ingenuity, collaboration and sustainability innovation.

Taking place in July 2023, the event had the overall ambition of delivering greater credibility to Bupa with external audiences and help raise their profile in sustainability and innovation. The brief was to highlight the link between the health of people and planet, while showcasing breakthrough solutions with the potential for addressing the healthcare sector’s sustainability challenges. The experience also needed to promote collaboration and celebrate a disruptive approach, inspired by the start-up community.

WMP Creative were tasked with producing the event in a way that stayed faithful to these objectives, creating moments that would spark conversation and collaboration. Particular care would also be needed over the sustainability of the event itself. Every production decision had to be made with sustainability front of mind, taking every moment from pre- to post-event into consideration.

When Bupa first outlined the brief, they asked for a best-in-class “expo experience”. But, understanding that the principle of disrupting ‘business as usual’ underpinned eco-Disruptive, our strategy was to break with convention and create something different.

With its strategic location on the river Thames, Old Billingsgate was a natural venue choice. Yet, a conscious effort was needed to avoid producing the same type of experience guests might have encountered there in the past. Our disruptive approach started with the guest journey. On arrival, the reception area, while seemingly conventional, gave way to an immersive experience called ‘Boundless.’

Having registered, guests were funnelled into the ‘Boundless’ space through a tunnel lit to create an intentional contrast to the reception and guide visitors to a concealed entrance at the end. With expectations already disrupted, this passage was used to build suspense and intrigue before opening onto an awe-inspiring, 8×8 metre expanse immersing visitors in a multisensory experience with 4K visuals, projected on all sides, accompanied by stereo sound.

Our idea for ‘Boundless’ was to celebrate sustainable innovation without limits. It was designed as a space for inspiration and bold messaging, making visitors stop and think about the exciting potential for innovation and collaboration to address the healthcare sector’s sustainability challenges. It was also created with the intention of generating the ‘talkability’ and social shares requested in the brief by Bupa.

Bupa eco-Disruptive Live

Having been inspired by the immersive experience, three doors were revealed leading out from the space and into the expo, allowing visitors to choose their own paths through the event.

Our strategy for the exhibition itself was to split this into three zones with lighting and graphics to create distinction. Each zone stood as a physical representation of the three pillars in Bupa’s sustainability strategy: Mission Zero, Mission Accelerate and Mission Regenerate.

All three areas created a platform for showcasing the start-ups by giving each one a 3x4m stand with a screen and space to showcase their innovations. Each wood-framed stand was designed to be identical so that all exhibitors had an equal footing for presenting their products – a particularly important detail for the start-ups who are just at the beginning of their business journey and don’t have much in the way of marketing assets or even exhibition experience. This approach would give us the best chance of meeting the objective of creating a platform for each of the start-ups.

Beyond the exhibition, our plan was to create a large enough area to act as a plenary with a stage where a keynote and multiple panel discussions could take place. We decided to name the stage ‘Thrive’, inspired by Bupa’s strategy of “creating a healthier world where people and planet can thrive”.

As an area large enough to take all guests, our idea for the main stage was to use this as a platform not only for keynote speakers and influencers, such as Entrepreneur and TV personality Deborah Meaden, Film producer and Influencer Jack Harris, Earthshot Prize-winner Notpla, and the CEO of Bupa Iñaki Ereño. It also presented another opportunity for showcasing the eco-Disruptive starts-ups through participation in panel sessions and fireside chats.

As a thread running through the event, we made sustainability a guiding principle for every facet of the production itself, covering everything from venue selection to material sourcing. On registration, we chose seed paper lanyards so that they could be planted after the day. All wood used in the construction of the stands was FSC approved, screws designed to be reused and textiles made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles.

Even the F&B choices reflected this sustainable approach, with packaging-free refreshments and water refill stations strategically placed throughout the venue. Environmentally friendly handwash was supplied, and all flora used for decoration donated on post-event.

Incorporating artistic installations was yet another avenue to underscore our commitment to sustainability. DAE Studio crafted bespoke installations using innovative materials like post-consumer plastic waste and cassava bags from start-up Cassava Bags Australia – winners of the 2022 eco-Disruptive programme. These installations are now destined to be displayed in Bupa Clinic locations across the UK.

Having set out to raise Bupa’s profile, eco-Disruptive live garnered over 20 pieces of positive media coverage amounting to a global reach of 1.4 billion, with key pieces appearing on Sky News, BBC News, Reuters and Forbes.

With high talkability also being an objective, influencer social posts on the day had a combined reach of 1.5 million.

Bupa asked for a high level of attendance at 500-600 guests and the event attracted 650 attendees, comprising of entrepreneurs, start-ups, Bupa employees, business leaders, and media. They also wanted positive feedback and a post-event survey showed that 94% of those who attended rated the event as excellent or very good. Of those, 89% would recommend the event to a friend or colleague, resulting in an NPS score of 76 – which would officially certify the event as ‘World Class’.

The event’s environmental impact was measured and offset in collaboration with Skoot, a B-Corp certified company. This collaboration resulted in counteracting 141.48t of emissions, planting 23,810 seedlings in a Kenyan mangrove, collecting 1,410 plastic bottles from the ocean, and funding 1t of climate projects.

Having succeeded in putting together an engaging experience on the day, we didn’t want to end the conversation there. That’s why we filmed a series of interviews and start-up profiles at the event for Bupa to share in the coming months with a view to keeping people talking about sustainability, healthcare and innovation.

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