The fourth annual Hopscotch Design Festival, a conference connecting designers, entrepreneurs and storytellers in the Triangle, kicked-off Thursday morning in downtown Raleigh.

Hosted and organized by New Kind, a Raleigh-based design and branding agency, the festival aims to create an environment for local innovators to make connections, share ideas and inspire one another. The festival’s 2017 theme is “designing the future.”

New Kind CEO David Burney views the festival as an opportunity for designers to “come together and experience the community we’re building together.”

Burney added that the term “designer” has become more fluid in an interconnected society.

“Today everyone is a potential disruptive innovator – and entrepreneur – with a new competitive offering,” he said. “Entrepreneurs are designers and designers are entrepreneurs.”

The Hopscotch Design Festival is well-positioned to reach such entrepreneurs. A May 2017 study conducted by WalletHub ranked Raleigh 12th and Durham sixth on its “Best Places to Start a Business” list.

The two-day festival utilizes multiple downtown venues to host a variety of events including speakers, roundtable discussions and informal networking opportunities.

Almost 40 speakers from multiple industries will discuss the importance of design in topics such as leadership, education, content creation and culture.

In his talk “Diversity by Design: Building Better Solutions Through Inclusion,” Local Government Federal Credit Union marketer and innovation strategist Lamar Heyward will share how effective design must be used to ensure diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“Ultimately, that’s how we are going to get to the future that we are trying to create and build,” Heyward said, “by allowing and including diverse perspectives and diverse thinking.”

The long-time LGFCU employee also noted the natural connection between design and entrepreneurship, stating, “Good design is key to solving a lot of problems. More often than not, it’s entrepreneurs who have a heart and a passion for that.”

The festival expects over 450 creative minds to attend this year, and while it is not uncommon for participants to travel from across the country, the majority of participants live in North Carolina.

Dave Glenn, regional STEAM specialist from New Hanover County, described the value of attending the Hopscotch Design Festival from the perspective of a professional educator. “As an educator, we usually only go to conferences with other educators,” he said. “This will be a great opportunity for me to network with professionals from other fields using design.”

“I’m looking forward to learning how design thinking is used in other roles, to take that experience back with me to my students,” Glenn added.

The 2017 Hopscotch Design Festival is officially sold out, but more information regarding the event can be found at the festival’s website:

This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism