Guess who came to dinner?

Of course, this was a short week and we used up most of Tuesday in a meeting you all attended, so I will start with Wednesday!! 

We held the 7th meeting of the Intelligent Transport Systems and Services Innovation Platform in London. After the last couple of meetings in an airless and depressing room in 1 Vic Street, we threw ourselves on the mercy of the IMechE and got a room there for free. I suspect we didn’t do enough preparation and enthusing our members and that, combined with Easter meant that we got a low attendance (only 8 out of 12) and particularly missed our business members. We needed to increase their participation anyway so will over-invite next time and take the risk of them all turning up. The projects from the first 2 competitions are now all running, so as well as a report on how they are doing, we turned our minds to what to do next. Everyone (even the DfT cohort) agreed that we needed to move on from road user pricing and redefine what an “intelligent transport system” would look like. Lots to do!!! 

I then went and met with a guy from Foresight. He has been tasked by Sandy with making sure that they have a proper relationship with us, but since he is new, I had to explain the relationship so far. We will be looking to hold quarterly meetings and focus on what we are both thinking about for the future and use papers to cover off the progress we are both making. 

Thursday saw the monthly gathering of the Innovation Platform tribe, although a couple of funerals and a Himalayan trek made us slightly depleted. As well as going through the progress and plans, we had Adrian Alsop from the ESRC in to discuss how to ensure that we covered off as many of the “people” aspects of Innovation Platforms as we could through existing activities. That was followed by a meeting with Paul Mason to plan a meeting to ensure that the future competitions in the KAAs and KTAs complement the work of the Innovation Platforms. 

Thursday evening started off a being a meeting with an old friend, but a chance discussion with the HR Supremo meant that the old friend was intended to have a mild grilling as to a possible role within the Technology Strategy Board – and Ian got a dinner!! As it was Neil (my old colleague) had similar ideas about broadening the scope of the evening and brought along Gareth Lucken of Drake and Scull. Gareth is currently working in Dubai installing combined cooling systems – a quick Google shows him to widely quoted in the very specialised literature that is the Middle East engineering journals. As well as being a fount of knowledge on district conditioning systems, Gareth also regaled me about an integrated waste recycling plant he has built (not personally, but as the consulting engineer!). It takes in all forms of waste from domestic up to old cars and outputs energy, aggregate, hydrochloric acid, potable water and much more. It was the level of integration that impressed me, the water used to drive the steam turbines was recovered as potable water, the acid came from decomposing PVC. He showed an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of decomposition temperatures and materials cycles. I will follow up. 

Friday was supposed to start with a discussion with Walter about his Emerging Technologies and Markets Strategy, but unexpected preparation and the early arrival of our esteemed guest truncated the discussion. Although Walter has progressed his ideas since last October, they still seem to be a bit uncorrelated with our higher level strategy discussions. I will continue the conversation next week. 

Norris was good value and showed us that we need to sit around and think of all the questions and what answers we all believe in before we go too much further. Later in the day we had the “what will we do when Denham comes” and “what do we want from the meeting with the MoD”. I love the adrenaline rush of these last minute meetings as much as the next person, but can’t help feeling that a longer gestation period would form the arguments better.



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