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13th – 17th October 2014

Monday had me heading to London and starting the week a great way – with a call from Guy Pattison on where we were at with the Clean and Cool Mission. This entrepreneur Mission takes the best of UK cleantech start-ups to California in January to develop their pitches, connect with customers/partner/investors and learn from the world’s leading cleantech grouping. For this Mission we want to celebrate the positive messages of cleantech and have established a People’s Champion place on the Mission paid for by sponsorship. The shortlist is here: and YOU get to pick who goes by voting. We are looking for the heroes of cleantech so choose the one that inspires you. Applications for the Mission are still open (closes 20th October) so if you are a cool, young, cleantech company get your application in today.

That call was quickly followed by one with the KTN on our work with Defra, particularly on water, and then another – this time a telecon with the team of us at Innovate UK that connect with the KTN. I then made my way to the Connected Digital Economy Catapult for a meeting with colleagues on autonomous transport systems and where it fits across our strategy. I’m always fascinated when we have these cross-team meetings how many challenges we share from area to area. That was an important take-away for me as well as the power of ‘test-beds’ for serious demonstration projects. Being able to use a city or a health authority to test out a new transport solution accelerates commercial development in the same way a pilot plant does for manufacturing – scaling up the concept.

We were treated to a quick tour of the Catapult afterwards, parts of which are still a building site ahead of the opening on 6th November!

Tuesday was Birmingham and after a call with some government colleagues about helping them with a technology assessment I rendezvoused with Ewa Bloch (our National Contact Point for resources, waste and the environment) and headed to Birmingham Science Park. We were meeting Civico, a company with a fascinating background in making democracy more accountable by using digital skills to connect up and share all council meeting systems (which are all recorded using rather outdated hardware that doesn’t network).

Civico have also managed the Freecycle network and now want to use their skills to track reuse of products through similar schemes. We advised them on which European schemes and Innovate UK competitions would fit the scope of their plans. I particularly liked their mantra that technology should be invisible in an innovation; or in the word of Coco Chanel: ‘when a woman wears a really beautiful dress, all you see is the woman’.

Thursday I had the pleasure of a project close out meeting with Shoothill  and get the latest updates on what has happened thanks to the funding from the force of Nature that is Rod Plummer. Their project was in the Solving Business Problems with Environmental Data competition and has led to GaugeMap as well as a whole load of bespoke services for other businesses. This builds well on their existing FloodAlerts service and we talked about where next. It is great to see a smart company refocus on societal needs and thrive because of it.

The day ended with a call to coordinate our presence at Resource Event  in March. With the KTN’s help we will brief and connect potential applicants for two calls – one on Circular Economy Value Networks (run by me) and the other on Whole Life Performance of Buildings run by my colleague Rick Holland, which has a circular economy strand. It really is an event to be at and we’ll be helping project ideas all three days.

Thursday I travelled into Swindon for back-to-back meetings in the office. I started with planning for the two Resource Efficiency competitions I’m kicking off (one just mentioned, the other Recovering Valuable Materials from Waste). The next meeting was to work through budgets for next year which ran straight into one on this year’s portfolio and how we manage it to budget. I followed that with a quick update on a project to assess the role of design in innovation for us and then back to finances as I worked through the latest forecast for my team. The long train journeys in and home helped me catch up with paperwork and emails.

I faced serious problems Friday and was cut off from email all day thanks to problems with passwords coinciding with Microsoft updates causing issues with Outlook. Thankfully I had a meeting with the boss powered only by tea and treacle cake as we reviewed my year so far and set some new tasks for the rest of the year. I will do more work on the team’s budgets and delivery plan so when I get my calendar back it will need a few changes.

Stat of the week: American teenagers are taking to the road in fewer numbers than ever before: 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. Source

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 117 kg CO2

Mike Pitts