23 December 2013
One of the attractions of a valedictory post is that it gives me an excuse to look back over the last 6 or more years, and consider what has gone well and what has gone “less well”. Leaving at Christmas also gives me to time to think. This list in personal and very much in the “to do” mode I discussed in the last post! ☺
11 December 2013
We are accustomed to lists. They help us make sense of a complex world. They have a certain familiarity. We have lists of the most popular music, the best-selling cars, the richest people and so on. Many of the lists we construct are a comparison of similar things and tend to have a quantitative ordering.
06 November 2013
It’s one of those issues that seem to have come up again and again recently. People using the same word to mean different things. The meaning each of us imbeds in a word is a product of our education and experience. At the #ScienceMeetsDesign event the other evening, we had several attempts at defining some important words in our own way. That left me thinking about what the actual definitions are. So I looked them up:-
28 October 2013
At the beginning of the year I tried to explain how our ideas about Catapults had evolved as we designed and assembled the first 7. We realised the importance of alignment with our other programmes – not only so that they could source the “second third” of their funding, but also because our programmes are derived from extensive consultation and represent what our analysis suggest are the growth opportunities for UK based companies.
28 August 2013
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
09 August 2013
One of the things slightly hidden in the recent announcement about our Spending Review settlement for 2015/16 was the extension of our commitment to Catalysts. The first Catalyst was announced in November 2011 and was focussed on the biomedical area. It was a response to the problem of getting companies developing new diagnostics and therapies to the point where “normal” financial support was easier to obtain.
31 July 2013
I should get the declaration of interests out of the way first. I am a physical sciences geek. As a child I took things to pieces – and occasionally put them back together again. I read science books. I was given endless “science project” birthday and Christmas presents. I trained as a scientist and got my first job as a scientist in industry. Over time, I have added a veneer of being a businessman, but I cannot walk past a cool piece of technology without trying to work out how it works – although the impulse to exploit it comes a close second.
16 July 2013
In all my time in industry, the main thing we worried about was money. Whether we had enough, whether we could get any more, how much we had to spend to get more and so on. I got to musing about it all recently when the debate about a Green Investment Bank appeared and receded. What is the best financial support mechanism for a Government to use? In industry we used to worry about 3 main types of money. When I became a public servant, I have learnt that there are 2 other types. There may be more!
10 June 2013
Innovation is hard. To do something new almost invariably requires taking risk. Whereas individuals are often comfortable with that risk, it has been my observation that organisations of even moderate size start to institute systems to avoid rather than mitigate risk. This means that, over time, most organisations lose their risk appetite and start to get comfortable.
03 April 2013
When I worked in industry money was moderately easy to understand. For each product you sold you worried about the cost of making it and what a customer would pay for it, you needed to keep a sufficient amount in the bank to cover your costs – that sort of thing. As a part of government, albeit at arms length, I have had to learn a whole new way of thinking about money.