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  • Another type of rebalancing

    03, December, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Our goal is to drive economic growth based on innovation. Growth mostly comes from doing something new, and often requires new knowledge to minimise risk. We have recently changed our funding rules to encourage more interaction between SMEs and the research base, but it doesn’t seem to be widely known!
  • Planning your way to success?

    29, October, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The brain is a wonderful organ. It notices things all the time but only brings them to your attention when it thinks you might care. For example, if you buy a new red car, all of a sudden, there are red cars everywhere. There seem to be countless similar examples where you see things without noticing them and then they’re everywhere.
  • The difficult second album

    17, July, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 4
    The present incarnation of the Technology Strategy Board started on July 2nd 2007, so we just passed our fifth birthday. On that day 5 years ago, we were around 50 souls (of the allowed headcount of 75) trying to work out how to start an organisation more or less from scratch, but fully aware of a juggernaut of competitions that we had been bequeathed to us by the Department of Trade and Industry as it metamorphosed into the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and we were spun out.
  • We hold these truths - LIVE

    13, May, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 2
    Last week, I was the proud recipient of a Frost & Sullivan Award for Growth, Innovation and Leadership. I had to give a 15 minute acceptance speech, so I raided past blogs and produced a sort of "greatest hits remastered" talk. This is it...
  • Herding Catapults

    29, February, 2012 by Blog | Comments: 5
    When we first started thinking about the need for physical centres to support innovation in the summer of 2009, we had some very specific ideas...
  • Picking the right races - and shortening the odds!

    28, February, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 11
    One of the questions we are increasingly asked is how we choose where to invest...
  • Is committment more important than direction?

    27, January, 2012 by David Bott | Comments: 6
    Last week I went to the “Scientists meet the Media” party at the Royal Society...
  • What's in a name?

    13, December, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    A little over a year ago, the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a network of elite centres to drive faster commercial exploitation of UK science. They were given the working title of technology and innovation centres...
  • Data, data everywhere, nor any byte to link

    12, December, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 5
    We have always lived in a society dependent on data – the change that has happened over the last decade or so is the sheer scale of the data being generated. We have probably passed the point where some data will never be looked at by a human being – it all just sits there. Most of this data has value, it is just that we need to think how to extract that value effectively.
  • The sum of all hopes

    20, November, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    One of the things we have learnt over the last 4 years is that nothing is simple. Every area we have become involved in has its own set of challenges and opportunities and it own kind of complexity. What we are now finding is that those different complexities are similar, often interlinked and moving together!
  • Are we asking the right questions?

    02, October, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I should start by expressing some prejudices about my subject before I get into citing evidence. I have worked in business for 27 years and been in a government agency for just over 4 years. Everyone uses words like innovation and growth a lot in both worlds but I think they have a different appreciation of what they mean. In business it has long been known that growth is about acceleration and not speed.
  • Has Evan Davies got it wrong?

    04, July, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 5
    Last Monday, after a evening spent with Ford helping celebrate their 100 years of manufacturing in the UK and then joining the UK manufacturing professors’ dinner, I got back late to my hotel room, fired up iPlayer and sought out the second episode of Evan Davies mini-series “Made in Britain”.
  • Feeling in the minority

    14, June, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    Last week I took a small part in the “We Own It” Summit in London. The invitation to participate came as part of our growing relationship with Astia, which started when (in a moment of honesty) I agreed with a tweet that pointed out that the room was full of white, Anglo-Saxon men in the 50’s wearing suits!!
  • Are we there yet? – a game of consequential metrics

    31, March, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    One of the questions we get asked regularly, not least by those who supply the money we use, is “how are you measuring your success?”
  • Learning from disruption

    02, March, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 2
    A few weeks ago, I was invited to talk about disruption – at the Learning Without Frontiers conference - and being a scientist by training, I thought I ought to look up what the dictionary meaning of disruption is...
  • Picking the right tool for the job

    30, January, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Over the last three years, the Technology Strategy Board has had the role of encouraging UK based companies to be more innovative. One of the ways we do this is by co-funding research and development, and in this time we have learned the obvious – that it’s not a “one size fits all” task...
  • Standing on the shoulders of everyone…

    04, January, 2011 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Harnessing peoples ideas and then getting a wider community to help develop the better ones is not a new idea, but modern technology allows it to be done on global scale. This is what is behind Open PlanetIdeas. This Sony and WWF supported project, with a focus on efficient resource use is a good one to browse through and realise quite how informed and imaginative people can be.
  • To boldly go...

    15, December, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Whenever anyone talks about “markets” these days they tend to put the word “global” in front of them. The truth is that, with the almost instant communications we enjoy from the Internet and the reasonable easy transport systems that encircle the planet, if you really want to, you can find out about products around the world, buy them and have them shipped directly to you. That means that any company that is planning to develop and sell new products always has an eye to selling them beyond...
  • Building blocks for the future

    12, December, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Three years ago we started to focus on encouraging ‘challenge-led’ innovation, helping business respond to major issues such as transport emissions, the environmental impact of buildings, or the ageing population. Since then we have thought long and hard about how to simultaneously build the technologies which will be needed to provide the answers to these challenges.
  • Technologists are scientists too

    04, December, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I think of myself as a scientist. My degree even has the word “science” in it so I must be. Yet no job title I have ever had has the word “science” or “scientist” in it. I have been described as a “technologist”, or the word “research” has been involved, but never have I been described as a scientist.
  • Running out of planet

    16, October, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    A couple of meetings this last week made me go back to work I was involved in a few years ago and revisit the basic ideas. We are well used to thinking about running out of oil – there have been articles and books written about it for at least 30 years now. We are getting used to the idea that we are running out of the capacity of our atmosphere to absorb different gases and not change its properties. The one we mostly don’t think too much about is running out of the stuff that makes up our planet.
  • On considering the alternative

    29, September, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    No-one looks forward to their death. In fact, most people will go to great lengths to avoid it. This strong survival instinct has led to the development of the means to defeat diseases caused by poor hygiene, treatments for many of the most deadly infectious diseases and foods that are more healthy.
  • Another way to discover disruption?

    27, September, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Innovation is a precious thing. It needs constant support while it develops and then help into the commercial world. Providing the right sort of support is important. Different markets work in different ways and at different timescales and so the support mechanism needs to be appropriate...
  • Perspectives on Innovation

    31, August, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    There has been a fair amount said about the innovation “ecosystem” (also referred to as “infrastructure” or “landscape”) recently and, as we talked about it within and without the Technology Strategy Board, I realised that most people have a different opinion about what it is and how it operates. That is why many of the discussions I have listened to recently failed to achieve any degree of closure!
  • Money makes the world go around

    26, July, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    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.
  • Inches away from the dark side

    17, July, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I have written before about the potential synergy of design and technology, and how we are gradually finding ways to engage with the design community more in our activities. One consequence of this is that we have been invited to join the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance. This, in turn, has allowed me to go and learn more about both design and crime!!
  • It all looks linear in hindsight

    10, July, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    A few years ago, I attended an EPSRC organised presentation where an American professor was “proving” that all major technological developments had started in scientific laboratories. He had an impressive list of examples and was doing well until someone asked the simple question “what happened to all the ideas that didn’t get developed?”
  • Sizing up the future

    07, July, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Now that we are 3 years old, we are beginning to accumulate the data we need to check that what we are doing is having the intended effect. One thing we have always tried to do...
  • It is better to travel...

    18, June, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    There is no doubt that, as a species, we are addicted to travel. A cursory look at the figures confirms this diagnosis...
  • Into the valley of silicon rode the twenty (and helpers)

    12, February, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    It is often easy to identify the moment when an idea crystallises but then to forget all the half-formed ideas and blind alleys that led to it. As we get close to the actual Clean and Cool Mission, I was explaining its history to a colleague and realised what an interesting story it was, so thought recording it might have value. (Imagine this scrolling up across your screen as in the beginning of Star Wars…)
  • The right tool for the job

    07, February, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Over the last few weeks, I have been asked quite a few times about how companies can get support from the Technology Strategy Board...
  • Of Google and geckos' feet

    25, January, 2010 by David Bott | Comments: 2
    Over the last 30 months, almost from the start of the Technology Strategy Board as a separate organisation, two questions have kept being asked of us – and probably of others. The first, cast usually in a rather downbeat way, is “Will the UK ever produce a company like Google?”
  • System Avatars

    11, December, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Innovation is risky. But there are many ways to reduce the risk, and one is modelling developments first. Modelling and simulation have been a part of science from the beginning, enabling us to play “what-if” games without the consequences of action in the real world.
  • Spotless and sub-zero

    30, November, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Over the last few weeks, two themes seem to have forced their way to the front of my consciousness. The first is small and medium sized companies and how they get access to the markets that can help them grow...
  • There are no big problems

    01, November, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    One of the advantages of the organisational promiscuity that has characterised my career is that I have worked for and with many people. Some have been both successful and fun to work with...
  • Do you want to be included or engaged?

    16, October, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at Digital Engagement 2009. This was held at Church House in London and was focused on local government and (as it implies in the title) digital engagement – or was it? What I think I learned...
  • Tough love for the young ones

    29, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Over the last few weeks, I have been involved in several meetings about start-ups, but on Tuesday last week I was pitched in at the deep end. I got to spend most of the day at Seedcamp...
  • Variety is the spice of business

    22, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    One of the questions we often get asked is whether we pick companies or types of companies for our support. We don’t. What we do is to try to identify areas where the UK has strength (or potential) and use the challenges facing that area to frame our competitions...
  • Emerald - the luxury end of green

    15, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Last week also saw the second Low Carbon Vehicles event at Millbrook. Organised jointly by Cenex, the Department for Transport, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Energy Technologies Institute and ourselves, this is an excellent demonstration...
  • Enough power for a country

    15, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    One of the joys of this job is the privilege of seeing what companies actually do. Last week I exercised that privilege at the Perkins factory in Peterborough...
  • Pattern Recognition amongst the challenges

    07, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    For some time now, we have been working with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) on the concept of “stratified medicine”. The concept is disarmingly simple – once you have got your head around it!
  • Helping to pave the way?

    02, September, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 2
    When we were set up as a “non-departmental public body at arms length from Government” just over 2 years ago, we inherited a set of “tools” to enable us to carry out our role.
  • Chips with everything

    18, August, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Writing a blog like this is an interesting experience. Some weeks, you can see easily what you can write about and some weeks you have to fall back on a timeless theme. Then at other times, and often over several weeks, you have a series of meetings that ought to have no interaction with one another and, as you go through them, something just screams at you to comment on...
  • The soul of a new machine

    04, August, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    One of the by-products of our recent activities in low carbon vehicles is that we have built some new relationships and get involved in more activities than we used to. So it was that, the other week, I went out as part of a UK group to see what Nissan are doing about zero emission mobility. It was a fascinating day.
  • Am I too old to have a hero? Or was Hemingway right?

    07, July, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I should start by owning up to being an Apple fanboy. Since I threw off the yoke of corporate IT oppression, I have always had Macs. From the first 12” PowerBook G4 to my current Air, I just like the way they work in the way I expect them to. My semi-religious zeal has spread like a virus through my family. My children have a range of Macs and my wife carries my Mark 1 Air around as if her life depended on it. Then comes the great coincidence...
  • A day in the spotlight

    28, June, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 4
    Although life within the Technology Strategy Board is rarely boring, every now and then, a day comes along that reaches new heights of strangeness, and last Tuesday was such a day. It was the day that we were to formally announce the results of our Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstration Programme. Given that it had evolved from a £10m/100 car trial to a £25m/340car programme, we decided a month or so ago that we ought to make a bit of a fuss about it. It was, as far as we could see, the largest..
  • Proof that confirms faith

    21, June, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 1
    Part of the scientific method is to experiment. It starts with a question. The next step is to look around and see who else has asked a similar question. Then you construct an experiment to test your ideas about how to answer the question. This experiment either proves your ideas were right or that they were wrong.
  • Live long and prosper

    09, June, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 4
    As we develop more Innovation Platforms and delve into the specifics of the challenges that they contain, we get really caught up in the detail and the focus. Every now and again, it is necessary to take a step back and look at our portfolio of activities and reframe what we are doing. Our recent work with the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Office of Life Sciences has taken us on just such a journey through our growing “medical” portfolio.
  • Que Sera, Sera – or not?

    01, June, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I seem to have been spending a lot of time giving introductory talks about the work of the Technology Strategy Board recently, so it was a nice challenge to be asked to contribute to the RIBA Seminar on Settlement. The subject of this meeting was something we have been increasingly aware of – the impact of technology on the way we live – and we (the presenters) were asked to think about what would be different in 20 years. That got me thinking about predicting the future...
  • Where there's life

    18, May, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The last few weeks seem to have developed rather a biological, or life sciences, theme. The other Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Foundation for Science and Technology which discussed whether it was possible to put a value on biodiversity. I won’t pretend to summarise the lectures or discussion - available soon through the Foundation’s website - but it did bring home to me the complexity of the biosphere that we are part, of and how little we understand the inter-relationships within.
  • Is it better to ask permission than to seek forgiveness?

    06, May, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 2
    There are many questions I have run into during my career, but the most vexing has been that of how to value research. So I was interested to read a well-balanced piece in Times Higher Education last week. As a research manager/director in several organisations, I was often asked to justify investment in research (or at least, the parts that I was responsible for!)...
  • Seeing the obvious

    05, May, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I have been living in the digital world for some time, but have only just realised it! I have three children, who think that it is all totally normal, and who have guided me into the wider aspects of this world. From the early monochrome games that tested their visio-spatial skills...
  • Travelling in hope

    29, April, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The week before last, two ministers drove a pair of new Mini Es around a racetrack in Scotland and launched a strategy for low carbon vehicles in the UK. This was widely reported in the newspapers, in tones ranging from mildly approving, through neutral to pretty sceptical. The criticism tends to be about the scale of the ambition and the reality of its implementation. So why is it that people get so exercised by this issue? Or is it the politicisation of the issue they object to?
  • Are we there yet?

    22, April, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The words “innovation” and “platform” are in everyday use. They have even been used together before, but we are beginning to realise that the “innovation platforms” which we have been working on for the last few years have acquired a brand cachet, and many aspire to “have” an innovation platform in their area. How did this come about? And how should we develop this concept?
  • A quantum of disruption

    07, April, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    “Disruption” is a goal we apparently all strive for in business. We talk about disruptive technologies, disruptive business models and generally sound as if our desire is to break the mould. For the most part, however, the day-to-day reality is a bit different. 
  • I still haven't found what I'm looking for

    30, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The first time I was really aware that I was looking for information was probably during my PhD. I had to find the context of my project and spent time in Chemical Abstracts looking for it. I used keywords that seemed appropriate and discovered the first truth of information searching – that the abstracts above and below the one you are looking for are always more interesting.
  • It may not be perfect, but it is fair

    24, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    A few weeks ago, we were pleased to see that several of our recent competitions for R&D funding had been heavily oversubscribed. To us, this meant that we had held competitions in areas that were appropriate, where there was significant UK capability and where those with that capability thought they had innovative ideas.
  • Not enough of the wrong kind of thing?

    16, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    I spent last Thursday afternoon in Portcullis House where I was speaking as part of a National Science and Engineering Week meeting organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee on the question - “Do we need more multi-skilled scientists and engineers to manage economic recovery and change?”
  • Holding out for the right kind of hero

    11, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Before joining the Technology Strategy Board, I worked for quite a while in industry, both in corporations and the business units that made them up. I have worked for managers who ran a “tight ship”, where the budgets were always met and things delivered on time. I have worked for leaders who could paint a picture of a future for the business that was exciting, (potentially) fun and so compelling that the large amount of extra work required to deliver it was considered a price worth paying.
  • A question of granularity

    09, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The Technology Strategy Board as a separate organisation has been in existence for 20 months. In that time we have had a lot of feedback. Some of it told us we were going in the right direction, but maybe not fast enough. Some of it suggested we were doing the wrong things, although if that was followed by a plea for personal funding it carried less weight! 
  • To boldly go...

    02, March, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    One of the highlights of this past week for me was on Thursday. Having decided to level the playing field for our organisation by holding a series of internal “masterclasses” on some of the new things we are doing, we had a presentation (which turned into a debate) on virtual worlds and serious games, and then broke into groups to learn about Second Life, Twitter, Ning spaces and blogs.
  • Pushing on a piece of string?

    24, February, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Business is supposed to be quite simple. You have to sell something in which people see real value, but which costs you less than that value to supply. Since it normally takes time to develop that “something”, knowing what people will want in the future is a really useful ability.  I seem to have spent a lot of time this week with people who are thinking about why things are successful and how they can increase the chances of success.
  • Are we holding the plans the right way up?

    19, February, 2009 by Blog | Comments: 0
    This has been a week for checking that what we are doing will achieve our goals and deciding what to do if it doesn't. In December, our Governing Board asked us this question, and we have been assembling the evidence and ideas to answer it. The input isn't just internal and programme related. For example, on Monday I went to a book launch. 
  • Action is a consequence of thought, not a substitute for it

    17, February, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    For some time now, we have been working with the Design Council to try to find a way to build a greater element of “design thinking” into the front end of our programmes and projects.
  • Meeting the priests of Delphi

    16, February, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    The first half of last week was largely taken up with moving into our new office. It was not a big move, just one wing over within North Star House, but it gave us the opportunity to design our own working space.
  • Cars, nanotechnology, science, broadband and security - nothing out of the ordinary then?

    09, February, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    My week opened with a meeting in London with members of the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) Technology Working Group to discuss our support for their move to low carbon vehicles. When we started the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, the world was a different place - sub-prime was a term not many people recognised - and we had a strong response from the UK automotive industry. 
  • Searching for the right buttons to push

    02, February, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Last week saw a lot of activity driven by the economic situation - either at company or Government level.  Monday was a series of meetings around the frenzied preparation for the launch of our Retrofit for the Future competition being run under the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform.
  • It's not speed, it's acceleration

    26, January, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    Monday kicked off well, with a visit with Iain to Dolby at Wootton Bassett. The visit came in two halves. The first was a tour of the factory. Here they make the "professional" equipment that goes into cinemas. Then came description and demonstrations of professional and consumer technologies being implemented.
  • Getting the message out there

    13, January, 2009 by David Bott | Comments: 0
    At the Technology Strategy Board, our job is a mixture of being out and about listening and talking about innovation in business and doing something about it. So for me, this week has been reasonably typical.
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