11 December 2009
Innovation is risky. But there are many ways to reduce the risk, and one is modelling developments first.
30 November 2009
Over the last few weeks, two themes seem to have forced their way to the front of my consciousness. The first is small and medium sized companies and how they get access to the markets that can help them grow. We have always been quite involved with start-ups, either through our links to universities and the exploitation of new science or through their entry to our competitions – something like 60% of the companies that enter our competitions can be classified as SMEs.
01 November 2009
One of the advantages of the organisational promiscuity that has characterised my career is that I have worked for and with many people. Some have been both successful and fun to work with some have been less than successful and no fun to work with. Since I was trained as a scientist, I have watched them all and attempted to learn what the approach to being a success in business should be.
27 September 2009
Over the last few weeks, I have been involved in several meetings about start-ups, but last Tuesday I was pitched in at the deep end. I got to spend most of the day at Seedcamp. My visit was the idea of one of our new Governing Board members, Sara Murray. There are a few similar programmes around, but Seedcamp is now in its third year and has a good reputation. The basic idea is disarmingly simple. They have some money to help really early stage companies. There is pre-selection, but in the final week 22 companies take part in a process that involves a variety of forms of mentoring and then pitch for funds to develop their ideas. I would imagine it is actually quite difficult to put it all together so I was very impressed with the overall package that greeted me at UCL.
13 September 2009
Last week also saw the second Low Carbon Vehicles event at Millbrook. Organised jointly by Cenex, the Department for Transport, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Energy Technologies Institute and ourselves. This is an excellent demonstration of the growing capability of the UK based automotive industry to compete in the markets that will comprise the low and ultra-low carbon vehicles.
16 August 2009
Writing a blog like this is an interesting experience. Some weeks, you can see easily what you can write about and some weeks you have to fall back on a timeless theme. Then at other times and often over several weeks, you have a series of meetings that ought to have no interaction with one another and, as you go through them, something just screams at you to comment on. I have just had one of those periods.
02 August 2009
One of the by-products of our recent activities in low carbon vehicles is that we have built some new relationships and get involved in more activities than we used to. So it was that, the other week, I went out as part of a UK group to see what Nissan are doing about zero emission mobility. It was a fascinating day.
06 July 2009
I should start by owning up to being an Apple fanboy. Since I threw off the yoke of corporate IT oppression, I have always had Macs. From the first 12” PowerBook G4 to my current Air, I just like the way they work in the way I expect them to. My semi-religious zeal has spread like a virus through my family. My children have a range of Macs and my wife carries my Mark 1 Air around as if her life depended on it. Then comes the great coincidence.
07 June 2009
As we develop more Innovation Platforms and delve into the specifics of the challenges that they contain, we get really caught up in the detail and the focus. Every now and again, it is necessary to take a step back and look at our portfolio of activities and reframe what we are doing. Our recent work with the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Office of Life Sciences has taken us on just such a journey through our growing “medical” portfolio. We started with Assisted Living in 2007 – actually, as is the way with Innovation Platforms, we have been working with the National Institute for Health Research for about a year before the actual launch, understanding the challenge, listening to the needs of the various communities involved and generally preparing the ground.
31 May 2009
I seem to spend a lot of time giving introductory talks about the work of the Technology Strategy Board recently, so it was a nice challenge to be asked to contribute to the RIBA Seminar of Settlement. The subject of this meeting was something we have been increasingly aware of – the impact of technology on the way we live – and we (the presenters) were asked to think about what would be different in 20 years. That got me thinking about predicting the future and the different approaches needed for different timescales.