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26th – 29th August 2014

A bank holiday shortened week started with a call from AlpSynergy (environmental consultant for business) about how we view sustainability. I explained that we thing social and environmental trends are as important drivers of future markets as technology and economic trends. We have an aim of economic growth but are always thinking about how that fits within a sustainable economy – that is one operating within safe environmental limits and delivering social value and quality of life. We know these are hard things to consider (hence our development of the Horizons tool) but for those that get it right innovation will scale quicker and farther.

I spent the rest of the day working through competition paperwork (I seem to be doing a lot of that right now) and checking through progress of projects across the portfolio. Projects from our Supply Chain Innovation for Resource Efficiency competition are finishing this year and we have some great results.

Wednesday I travelled into the office in Swindon to try and tie up a few urgent activities before I stop travelling until my son is born. It was a lot easier to chase up activities by talking with the people helping me than via email or trying to reach them by phone. The accidental conversations that arise by being in the office are also invaluable. I spent the journey home thinking about the role of social innovation and building communities and a sense of belonging in enabling wider innovation. These ideas keep appearing across our strategy and increasingly from businesses with brands to maintain. It is an area I know our Digital team are working hard on and I intend to discuss further.

Thursday I was in London and started with a meeting discussing a planned textile sector competition with Carol Rose from WRAP. The call will seek new ideas to increase the durability of clothing and is being supported by Defra. We talked about how we and the KTN could support the competition. I then met with a new KTN person who will lead on sustainability within their health and bioscience teams and took her through how we think about sustainability and how we use the Horizons tool to do so. KTN staff are key to helping our applicants using Horizons to think about the environmental and social drivers of their projects and business.

I then headed to BIS to meet with a delegation from FINEP who are an Innovate UK equivalent in Brazil. We spent two hours explaining how we work and discussing the differences in approach. Given FINEP did the same for me when I went to Rio before the last Clean and Cool Mission I was happy to reciprocate. We will soon sign a joint funding agreement with them as we seek to strengthen our ties with Brazil.

Friday I caught up with my boss then spent most of the day transferring the Urban Data competition to my new colleague James Taplin. He has a lot ahead! Whereas I won’t be travelling now until October. Serious baby waiting starts now, so if there is no blog next week you’ll know what happened!

Other topics discussed this week: locking wheel nuts, email accounts, tax.

Stat of the week: The average commuter in the UK spends 29 working days each year travelling to work

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 70 kg CO2

Mike Pitts