The Inside Track to Success
28 August 2013 by David Bott
Over the last 6 years, the Technology Strategy Board has helped support economic growth by helping innovative UK-based companies. We have done this by sharing a vision of where a particular market or technology could go, by connecting companies with other companies or universities where missing bits of their business puzzle might lie, by providing insight into the way government policy is developing or (if all else fails) funding them for about half the costs of the project to develop new products or services. There is growing evidence that these tools are effective, and becoming more effective, but in the end they are limited by the number of people in the organisation and the amount of money we have to allocate. We need to find a way to extend our support. We think one way is to celebrate the successes of the companies we have supported – so that others can use them as role models
The first question many people ask us is “who are you supporting?” There are a couple of ways of finding out. If you are looking for a specific company, then the public database is the right place to start. For the real data buffs amongst you, there is a downloadable database (from here) which we update every month. If you are interested in a specific area of activity, it is probably better to follow the results of the competitions in that area (go here and select “previous” to find the competition you are interested in). A week or so after we have made the funding decision, we add a “competition results” tab at the top of the page and you can download a list of successful companies and consortia and a public description of their project.
At this stage of a project, they are quite high level and the abstracts are naturally written to enable the companies to derive the right level of protection for the intellectual property they are trying to generate. It is at the end of the project when they can fully explain what they have achieved. After 6 years of activity, the TSB now have enough examples to use as success stories as an additional tool to support economic growth.
The idea behind these stories is that they will explain the success companies and groups of companies have had with TSB support and communicate it in a manner that allows other companies to learn and use the practices and processes that have been successful. They are therefore written in a much more journalistic style. They are meant to whet the appetite of the reader and it is our intention to try to use as many as possible to gain wider media coverage. We have also discovered that Ministers like to talk about success stories when they visit a particular geography or announce a new initiative in a market or technology area. The wider coverage this gives brings new opportunities to the companies themselves, but also might just get the way in which they achieved commercial success to the attention of others in similar situations. They can be found here on our website.
In 2011 we published our strategy for the period 2011-15 – the period for which we have guaranteed funding from government. Over the last two years, we have been out talking to companies about what we are trying to do. Necessarily, the rather formal language with which we explained what we do in the published document has evolved to be more accessible – and more grounded in the real commercial world. We thought we ought to try to capture this evolution and have published it on our website and our YouTube channel in what we think is a more “interesting” format. We hope you enjoy it.
Communication is not a one-way process. Whenever we give a talk, we always end with our full contact details. This is because we want to know how to improve what we do. It has been my experience that there are those who still think of us as an old-fashioned, bureaucratic quango that is more interested in being “safe” than in really supporting UK economic growth. This is not our intent or my experience. Why engage and find out for yourself?