Cyber Sensory Deprivation doesn't make poor technology any better

Another week finds me mysteriously at the “start the week” meeting, and fun it is too!!  Then we have a discussion on the progress of the metrics and measures work-stream.  It’s nice to find out what they are doing!!  That leads fairly seamlessly into the preparation for the Board Meeting next week, so the morning passes quite harmlessly.  Then it’s a Funders Panel for the Carbon Abatement Technologies, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, Low Carbon Vehicles Integrated Delivery Programme, Regenerative Medicines Value Systems and Low Impact Building Design and Decisions Tools.  Aside from some confusion over how much (i.e. what percentage) we could fund the Fuel Cells area, this was accomplished with minimal fuss and Cyrus and I set off to London for the first meeting of the Stevenage Biopark Steering Group (or whatever they call themselves).  There is some confusion because we have all along said that we would put equipment into the Incubator to ensure that companies in there have access to the necessary analytical and communications kit to be able to function in today's world.  Somehow, BIS added our contribution into the brick and mortar part of their equation and now the project in £5m short.  Each meeting now starts with a ritual “are you sure you wouldn’t like to buy some bricks?  What do you mean by “equipment”? How about the fume hoods?” line of questioning, so we did a bad cop-bad cop routine to convince them we meant what we said.  I had to run out early and leave them in Cyrus’ gentle embrace to slip into my DJ to make it to the iAwards ceremony at the Science Museum.  It was surprisingly good.  The production values show what you can get if you throw money at a problem, and many of the finalists were known to us, but it also bore the hallmarks of something that had been put together in a hurry and some commentators had to force themselves to be nice -

The next day was a group hug with Cisco in sunny downtown Bedfont Lakes.  We had set this up during the negotiations to get Phil Smith to be a panellist at Innovate 09.  Apparently, he had returned from the event and told his CXO’s that they “need to work with these people!” so we got a full suite of people with important sounding job titles and an impressive grasp of their business.  We spent 4 hours going through both sides of a first date and agreed to meet again.  I then escaped with Richard Miller and we enjoyed a relaxing ride on the Piccadilly line back to Holborn, where we should have changed onto the Central line, except that it was down!!  Instead we walked to the Stock Exchange for the launch of the Clean and Cool Mission 2010 -  .  The back story to this is that we joined as sponsors of WebMission 2009 late in the process last year but got real value from it in links into the Enterprise 2.0 community, so were strongly inclined to sponsor it again this year, but in discussion with Polecat, who mainly run these things, it evolved more into the clean and sustainable technologies area.  So it was that I ended up doing a telephone interview with Business Green -  and getting quoted from my short address to the throng -  and generally mixing with interesting people.  Highlight was the guy from Diverse Energy -   who on Monday had be awarded one of our Fuel Cell grants and won a category at the iAwards.  He was bit chuffed.  Richard Miller and Lady Claire worked the room whilst I got involved in what felt like a bizarre video interview with John Elkington (the dean of sustainability gurus – see ) and Bronwyn of Polecat before catching the train back to Swindon – yes, I had mis-planned again and faced a 2 part journey home.  I noted that Lady Claire is quite ruthless at the nobbling people routine and had at least twice as many cards as me or Richard at the end of the evening.  

Wednesday was a late start down to London.  First up was a discussion with the young padawan, Mike Cadman and Ray Kingcombe about the idea of a Sustainable Aviation Innovation Platform.  They started with the “Iain has said we’re going to have one” routine, then switched to the “industry wants one” when it emerged that Paul had already met with them twice and been told the process we go through, but they were on the standard civil service trick of going up the chain of command in the hope that someone blinks.  They were disappointed.  That said, Paul and I learned a lot and developed our own ideas, but these guys seriously don’t get it!!  I then met up with Steph and Zoe for a meeting with Bob Goodson of YouNoodle - .  Aside from yet another data point in the analysis of how start-ups choose names which amuse them but later turn out to be deeply embarrassing, YouNoodle has some real interest for us.  They started trying to develop algorithms to determine the value of pre-public companies.  What they found was that no-one was collecting a coherent data set, so they started to – simply as a feed for their algorithms.  Now they have it all.  We are conducting an experiment to use their protocols to monitor the value of the regenerative medicine community, and wanted to make sure he got our goals without repetition, deviation or hesitation.  The evening ended up with a handover from Fearless Leader to me on the ETI Board – he had gone to the dinner and I got to go to the actual Board meeting.

It was no surprise therefore that the next morning started with the ETI Board meeting at the Civils.  There was a lot of discomfort that the strategy document they presented didn't reflect what the members thought they were doing.  There is real worry about how to extract value from their Energy Modelling work – with lots of people wanting to keep it private for all sorts of reasons.  As always, the officials say nothing bad, but moan in the pre-meetings!!

At lunchtime, I escaped back to Tracy Island and got a chance to catch up with e-mails.  Since the ITC anti-iPhone moves of last weekend, I have not had mobile e-mail.  It is both liberating (I feel the need to concentrate in meetings rather than zoning out into the cyber world) and worrying (at 100 e-mails a half day, I rapidly get out of touch with our world).  The Digital Britain meeting apparently ran on, so I hung around on the planned telephone conference for 10 minutes before checking and discovering they had moved on without me!  Finally, FL and I met a very interesting man who might be a possible addition to our healthcare capability.  The evening was spent being pumped by Lisa and Steph (the metrics and measures ninjas) on how to put numbers into the discursive responses to the impact statement. I think we have a plan!

Friday had to start with a phone call to Ford.  We had decided a week or so ago that we weren't going to support their proposed large project, but had been asked not to tell them yet by BIS.  We had hoped they would raid their own kitty, but they just wanted to prepare ministers in case Ford cut up rough.  They are a good company, doing innovative things – it is just that this project isn’t one of them and we need to draw a line.  Having done the deed, I decamped up to the IoP, first for a meeting with Monica of OSCHR (dissecting last Friday’s meeting) and then for the first TSB-MRC Stratified Medicine Workshop.  It followed the usual lines.  We had invited a lot of people, but there are always omissions, and some chose to spend a large amount of time pointing them out.  We need to agree the goals before we can agree the route.  Joe (our MRC mole) had done a good job and we got a fair amount out of the event.  A sidebar conversation with Clive Dix (BIA) and Liz Surkovic (BIS) about the Stevenage Biopark suggests that there are interesting under-currents in the community about this venture.   Cyrus had taken pity on me and sent out an old Blackberry for me to be able to have mobile e-mail.  He is SUCH a nice man.  Then it was back to Tracy Island for a meeting with Hadley Beeman - .  I have always been deeply jealous of FLs ability to pick up people on Twitter, so when someone said something nice about us in the Twitterstream at the Digital Engagement conference the other week, I contacted them for a meeting.  Interesting stuff about using social media in local government which I have passed off.  Finally, I went down to the Home Office to rendezvous with Sebastian Conran to be inducted into the Design and Technology Alliance -  Interestingly, there are amusing swirls here as well.  The Design Council were contracted to supply the secretariat, but aren't doing much (other than consuming money), our activity on the “hot products” stuff earlier in the year – see and  was seen as nothing short of earth-shatteringly effective (they don't have high standards) and the Home Office have been cyber-stalking me and consider my ramblings to be marginally credible.

On the train home I had a chance to work with the interim Blackberry.  There was a post-it in the box with RTFM on it (but nicely) and after an hour I began to see why.  The user interface is not very intuitive, the keys are too small for normal sized fingers and the typeface on the keys makes them difficult to find.  I can see that Blackberries are an improvement on Treos but compared to the iPhone they are, let's face it, pants.

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