A few weeks ago, our Head of Sales and Marketing Helena Jevons wrote about the challenges of predicting the future, and teased that we’d soon be reporting on the ‘time capsule’ predictions our team made last year. Read on to find out what we expected to see by the summer of 2021…

It’s fair to suggest that in many ways 2021 has been even more chaotic and unpredictable than the happenings of the year before. 2020 was a year of Voldemort-style connotations; “the year that must not be named”, or that is pushed back in our minds to try and forget. However, with this said, there was a certain consistency and pattern followed in 2020 which could provide a level of predictability which 2021 has certainly not replicated.

As a society we became accustomed to a cycle of repetitive lockdowns, almost desensitised to the point of acceptance of a new way of life. Post winter however, things started to change, and it would seem this time, it was irreversible.

Adapting to this change has been a journey which few expected and as the results of our time capsule survey have found, the nature of this change has been rapid and volatile. In this blog I’ll be breaking down some of the standout findings of our staff members’ predictions from the first lockdown and comparing them to what has now come to pass in reality.

Besides the pandemic, 2020 was also defined by an acute sense of political turmoil. This was particularly true across the pond with the drama and fallout of Biden’s election to president, which perhaps somewhat surprisingly wasn’t anticipated by the majority of us, with only a third predicting this outcome.

On the issue of Brexit and EU negotiations on the other hand, staff were slightly more evenly split with 40% predicting a Brexit deal having been arranged. As my former politics professor told my Brexit seminar class however, “the deal is just the start of 10 more years of Brexit.” It would seem therefore that the jury is still out here, but let’s hope for the sake of public sanity that the collective wisdom of our Sussex Innovation staff can outweigh the scope of a PhD.

Closer to home we had many predictions about our new Brighton Centre opening, of which 90% of us surveyed thought would be up and operational… Although we are still not quite there yet, one of the predictions was certainly true in that “the Brighton Centre has that new car smell.” We are so close on this one and can’t wait to expand Sussex Innovation into the heart of Brighton!

And finally, we have our predictions on the defining topic of the pandemic. Many claims were made by staff in how they envisaged the year ahead playing out. The consensus however was that we would now be, in Summer 2021, a long way off beating Covid yet.

Statements were mostly along the lines of “Covid-19 is still largely unbeaten” and “the vaccines are still in development or in the very early stages of being released.” This was reflected in the numbers with 73% of staff predicting that no vaccine would be widely available at this stage. The reality however has proved very different, with over 75% of the UK population double jabbed with highly effective vaccines at the time of writing.

Political and societal elements of the coronavirus fallout aside, it is undeniable that Covid vaccines and the vaccine rollout are a triumph of science, technology, logistics and collaboration, demonstrating what a collective of brilliant minds can achieve in times of crisis. It proves that even here at Sussex Innovation, we can sometimes underestimate the power of innovation as an unparalleled force for progress and the speed at which seemingly impossible mountains can be climbed.

However unexpected the journey – there is always a way to navigate.