THE county’s biggest celebration of technology and the arts was launched at an event which aims to make science fiction a reality.

The Ideas into Action event, backed by Echo publisher Newsquest, is part of the ambitious Essex 2020 project saw more than 90 businesses get together to celebrate science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) at the launch event at Hylands House, Chelmsford.

Businesses, including Teledyne, Google and Tech East, attended the event where they heard first-hand about opportunities for partnerships and investments to boost innovation and STEAM skills in the region.

Speaking at the event, Professor Trevor Cross, chief technology officer and head of quantum technologies at Teledyne e2v, a world leader in developing cutting-edge technologies, said: “Advancements which were once just science fiction are now a reality and there are huge opportunities for even greater progress.

“Like many other sectors, technology is suffering from a shortage of skilled people at all levels.

“We are in the process of redeveloping part of our Chelmsford facility to create a base for like-minded companies and academia to work together to help solve some of the challenges industry faces and capitalise on the opportunities.

“It’s a great time for collaboration across our county and Essex 2020 will provide an excellent platform to encourage this further.”

The event gave business leaders the opportunity to pitch their own ideas to the 12-month programme of STEAM activities and to pledge their support.

One of those to do so was The Hive enterprise centre, in Southend, which sees Essex 2020 as a big opportunity to promote Southend as “Tech City on Sea”, with a view to working across the whole south Essex area.

Richard Freeman, project director for Essex 2020, said: “There is a huge amount of ingenuity and creativity across the county but currently, much of this is not joined up or shouted about.

“STEAM is crucial, not only to the future of our economy but to that of our people and environment.

“By launching Essex 2020, we are now providing a platform for the collaboration and investment needed to help boost STEAM education in Essex, not just throughout next year but for many years to come.”