The beginning of a new decade – or is it?
08 January 2021 by David Bott
This being the beginning of a new year, Monday was a holiday and personal commitments made it better for me to work at home on the Tuesday, so I missed the first “start the week” meeting of the year. Shame.
Bizarrely, at the time it should have been taking place, I took a call from Eddie Obeng, ostensibly about the Design Council. After 30 minutes or so we ended up in a discussion about how really good ideas end up being fashionable and lose their potency to affect business. Definitely worth a blog post at some point!
Then it was into a catch-up with Transport Man, who was similarly confined to home duties. We talked about the strategy for his area, and the balance between keeping the successful Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform going to maximise its effectiveness, the need to find a way to support the innovative end of the aerospace industry, how much effort we should put into exploring the potential for intervention in rail and marine, and how to tie it all together one day. Great discussion.
That led almost seamlessly into a telephone conference for the Heads of Innovation Programmes. Sustainability was also virtual so it was an interesting conversation to manage – but I sense we are getting better at virtual meetings. We mainly talked about the strategy for the portfolio and the impact on the first year of that strategy.
A break for a relaxing and healthy lunch was followed by 3 meetings about TICs – all folded into one. We started with defining what success would look like for our “fast track” high value manufacturing TIC, then went into the timing of the various governance phases and finished with trying to anticipate how FL will deal with the Select Committee meeting.
Tuesday had enough reasons to be in Swindon, that I made the trek. First up was a discussion to prepare for the upcoming Board meeting, then I went across to meet with some NERC people about LWEC. I think our obvious frustration with progress of the Business Advisory Board has been noted and understood by someone high up in NERC and so the meeting was to agree a path forward. We have done this before but local issues within NERC usually derail whatever agreement we have made – even if they were with the BAB itself. Sustainability Man continued his virtual contribution and we made real progress. I think!
Finally, I had a catch-up with Will, both about the High Value Manufacturing scene in general and the balance of the technology programme. Since there were no hot desks left, I drove home and continued my virtual interaction with the world – including yet another one with Sustainability Man!
Thursday was an 8-hour strategy meeting, which Business Planning Man tried to stretch to 9 before we had even started! By lunchtime we were only 2 hours behind and the discussion was the usual mixture of high insight and demonstrations of short-term memory loss.
Friday was planned to be another virtual day – I am beginning to realise I can be much more effective when not interrupted by meetings!
First up was a quickie with FL about Learning Without Frontiers. It’s a long story, but somehow I agreed to talk at the meeting and attend the speaker dinner. Since I am being banished to Boston for a day next week, FL now has to carry the torch of provocation into the dinner, so wanted to understand as much of our thinking as possible. Then it was a discussion of our next meeting with the Foresight team. They seem to want not only to be our friends, but to be more visible seen to be our friends, so the next meeting should be interesting. A quick chat with Suzy to check which of the “Heads of” have amended their Delivery Plans for next year before a longer chat with Michael Hurwitz of OLEV. They appear to have about £60m over the last 3 years of the CSR and Michael was pondering how much to put into our LCV programmes and whether we would be interested in being their delivery agency. I told him that we would willingly co-develop competitions and then run them but that if they wanted to do something outside our programme we would charge a handling fee. Cyrus would have been proud of me!
Then a final call about the Future Health Mission before a surprise call from Cisco about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Shoreditch-Stratford “initiative”.