Stochastic Progress - Is it real?
27 April 2018 by Lukas Bott
You were all there all day, so you know Monday was “risk management day”!! I quite liked the “absent minded professor who knows it all” persona adopted by the main speaker. Made me all nostalgic about my youth. When I dug my tunnel out I went to see Gordon MacKerron of the Sussex Energy Group – a subset of SPRU - http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/profile1676.html. His talk was an enlightened economists (is that oxymoronic?) view of how energy policy, environmental policy and nuclear energy intersect. It was at the invitation of the alumnus vampires of my alma mater but I knew no-one other than Peter Saraga, who didn’t actually go to Sussex but is on its Council.
The next day we started with the Treasury visit. I was vaguely bemused by how little questioning we got and how much background Polly seemed to need. Paul and I left that meeting to go to a meeting with NERC – set up after a mano a mano between Iain and Alan Thorpe. I did my current version of “Innovation Platforms for Dummies” but the most difficult question was from one of the NERC people who wanted multiple representation on the Steering Groups because they didn’t think BBSRC could adequately represent them!!
After that, we shot down to London for a meeting with the defrocked economist from the DTI. I had forgotten the old civil service trick of ascribing all your intentions to a senior minister to make sure they are implemented. We got told that every idea in his paper was directly from Shriti!! He made the mistake of forgetting I could remember when he wanted all these things – and didn’t know Shriti. There seems to be a real problem in that their analysis of the service sector is “complementary” to ours. This is code for the fact that the recommended areas for activity are completely different. Of particular concern to me is that they are recommending that the Construction Unit of BERR sets up an Innovation Platform!!
Paul and I got to sample the wonders of the all-day breakfast bap on the way home – who said our lifestyle isn’t jet-set?!!
The next day was down to London again. The first stop was the Design Council. During a meeting to discuss progress on our partnership with them, both Richard Miler and I had commented that many Technology Transfer Offices were a good case for compulsory organ donation. Since the Design Council were building their implementation of Design on Demand into the academic sector (an imperative from Lord Tesco (or similar)) on the use of these organisations, they had asked me back to unpack these comments. I had a really good chat with Lesley Morris and Jesse Belgrave about the evolution of TTOs and how even their trade organisation admits they are variable in quality. I then nipped down to Kingsgate House and met with Neville and the late Fearless Leader to discuss how we are trying to use procurement within the Innovation Platforms. Since the meeting was held in La Tasca and most of the diagrams were drawn on serviettes I feel the cold hand of posterity on us already!!
Thursday was the Innovation Platforms monthly gathering. We continue to unpack the inter-relationships between the Platforms themselves and spin off ideas that the KTAs and KAAS might be interested in, but have no room large enough to meet without real planning. We also struggle with the need to get much better forecasting when the offer letter does not require forecasts from the consortia for a couple of months after inception. We had a fascinating discussion on the new “report what you do” regime. I got some stick for the lack of correlation with what I had done locally and the last minute scour for data that Guy had undertaken. This led seamlessly into a discussion of when we would have a proper CRM system and the revelation that many had not put their contacts into the database because they were not convinced that others would respect the relationships they had built up. Andrew Tyrer pointed out that this was exactly the point of the Network Security Innovation Platform!!
Thursday ended with a short meeting with part of a party from Atkins and another trip back to London. That evening I was a guest at the Logica Client Party at the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the O2. When I arrived, I picked up my badge but didn’t immediately notice my affiliation had been posted as BERR. I had a few weird conversations before I settled into my acquired persona and learned how not to reveal my true identity.
Friday was another step on the seemingly long road to making sure our MNT KTN is vaguely representative of the community. David and Heidi are rightly striving to make the 2 major groups in the area work together but the negotiations mainly show off the worst side of peoples’ characters. This time it was talking to the CENAMPS (to be CPI) representatives who like to slag off their new partners from IoN whenever possible. Heidi and I have to hear the other side of the coin next Thursday evening. I can hardly wait.
My final task was to go to Randal Richards goodbye drinks session in Polaris House. David Delpy basically told everyone that the new structure was Randal’s idea. I spent all my time being told by people I know what their new jobs were – although they all seemed quite vague and unsure.