MARC WEST makes his now annual pilgrimage to the global feast of ideas that is TED, which came to the New Theatre this week

Over the years, TED has become a true inspiration to me – always there to provide words of wisdom. Having made our acquaintance some six years ago, I now relish our annual rendezvous in the city of dreaming spires. Who is this inspirational entity, you might ask. Well, it’s actually no one person, but a worldwide network of thinkers, dreamers and believers all willing to share their specialist knowledge.

Established in 1984, this non-for-profit global phenomenon is dedicated to discussing the three emerging fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design and has since become a universal hub of intellectual curiosity. So, when the opportunity arose once again to experience a whole host of these now legendary talks first-hand, I just had to satisfy mine.

Independently organised by students from University of Oxford, TEDxOxford differs from other events in one major way. Instead of the one-day conference being exclusively for the leaders of today’s world, this sold-out audience consisting of students and locals alike contains nearly 2,000 of the most passionate, engaging and innovative youths - the leader’s of tomorrow’s world.

Hosted for the sixth consecutive year at George Street’s New Theatre, a dozen ground-breaking individuals - including a Stanford University professor of Mathematics, a common sense psychologist and a clinical neuroscientist - each utilized TED’s innovative format of “18 minutes of inspiration” to enlighten us on a world of ideas worth spreading.

I’ll admit most of it went straight over my head. But, it’s really all about exploring opportunities to spark conversation and if you take just one pearl of wisdom away, then it’s fulfilled it’s remit. Illuminated in the spotlight, their passion shone through the darkness of the auditorium - making my heart swell and leaving my mind well and truly blown! You get the feeling that this ever-expanding community really is capable of anything.

PhD student Nikki Eberhardt shared her passion for empowering girls in developing countries, Dr Rosalind Watts explained her results from clinical trials using magic mushrooms and 410Labs’ David Troy gave a quite frankly terrifying insight into how social manipulation can create small changes that have a dramatic outcome - and we’ve all experienced that recently!

Three sessions, twelve speakers and a world of ideas - this intensely diverse and engaging programme of speakers came together over the theme of “X Changes Everything” and they all certainly have the X factor. Executive Director of Stratford’s RSC was preaching to the converted in me, but still managed to widen my eyes yet further on the benefits of The Bard. She’s passionate about integrating art into daily life and believes we all have something to learn from Shakespeare’s timeless universal themes. His witty and wise words neatly sum up the entire ethos of this enlightened exchange of ideas. And, while we may not have left with all the answers, I for one was certainly inspired to at least now ask the questions.

For details about next year’s conference and how you could get involved visit In the meantime, if all this inspirational talk has left you hungry for even more, I know just the place for the incurably curious. Held annually at Said Business School, Oxford Inspires is the city’s largest conference of innovation - encouraging us to meet, learn and network. Taking place on 25-26th of this month - with speakers including Norton & Sons’ Patrick Grant and Geoff McGraph from McLaren Applied Technologies - it’s an ideal opportunity to immerse your self in an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Tickets priced £40 are available now via