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1st – 5th December 2014

The week started with a trip to London and two phone calls. The first was from Anna Simpson (Forum for the Future) in Singapore about what trends I was seeing on collaboration in industry for innovation. I said it was interesting how many companies were now collaborating with NGOs and charities on aligned agendas. We had looked a lot at system innovation this year – which I consider are challenges too big for one company or organisation to address and thus needing collaboration. The business opportunities are often huge for such challenges but realising them needs a business case that aligns for all the companies that are needed to make the solution work. This is perhaps too far from how big companies like to work and the risk too high. We have a role to help enable this which is key to realising solutions for sustainable cities, new energy systems and health & care programmes.

My next call was with Simon Hart, the leader of our Low Impact Buildings programme and a recent father like me. We stayed off nappies and instead discussed forward planning and realised the need for a longer conversation.

The Forum for the Future theme continued through the day as I met with several teams at their offices to review the work of the last year and what we’d do next. Work to embed the Horizons tool in our programmes and competitions is progressing well. Understanding how we do system innovation better (see earlier discussion) continues and I am keen to understand how we bring social value into the mix. Working with social enterprises can be of considerable value to business when working in a societal challenge-led area. Catherine Joce joined us towards the end of the meeting as we plotted the build up to the Circular Economy: Business Models competition launch, including a themed event on Monday at the Forum Christmas network event.

I headed home to end the day as I needed a day at the desk Tuesday to plough through my inbox, various admin tasks and more finance planning for next year. I also joined a telecon on how we can help the EU develop a programme of funding city testbeds for innovation from our experiences in the Urban Living programme while changing my son’s nappy (multi-tasking Dad!).

Wednesday I headed back to London for the Resource Efficiency programme Steering Group meeting. This group consists of industry, academic, NGO and government experts on resource efficiency and circular economy who provide steer and counsel to our activities on this area. Aside from two consultations from Government on the area to feed into we also had a company present on a project they were trying to get off the ground. Civico are seeking to use their expertise in creating web platforms to enable and track the exchange of products and resources post-first use.

After the meeting I headed south of the river to the Battersea InnovationRCA campus to meet with Ananas Anam – a start up who turn pineapple leaf waste into a leather substitute. See this prototype trainer example:

I was visiting to see how we can continue to support them as they develop as a company. I ended the day catching up with my Urban Living colleagues Sarah Tromans and Niraj Saraf.

Thursday morning saw an early start to get to Harwell to support the third member of the Urban Living team, James Taplin, in the second of the workshops for the Solving Urban Challenges with Data competition. This was at Harwell in the Satellite Applications Catapult and convenient for me to tie in a visit to ScienceWise to discuss how we build society’s opinions and needs into our strategy and programmes. After a long day and long journey home I took Friday off to be a full time Dad for a day.

Stat of the week:  The average baby uses the equivalent of 150kg of wood in the form of disposable nappies

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 77 kg CO2

Mike Pitts