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7th – 11th July 2014

I travelled into London first thing to start the week and began with a call from Tracy Sutton on connecting up innovation expertise in resource efficiency. Her particular focus is packaging and we’d certainly like to see her at The Great Recovery events in future. I was spending the rest of my morning (and some of the afternoon) at Forum for the Future. I’m often there and the CEO, Sally Uren promised me she follows this blog religiously (hi Sally!).

At Forum Nicky Conway and I went through our current plans for spreading the Horizons word and getting it more used. Next week we train up a number of KTN people. We talked about joint plans with Nicky holding me to firm actions as ever! I then met with Louise Armstrong, Anna Warrington and Zoe Le Grand to run through our problem setting for a workshop the next day.

Avoiding the Tour de France I made my way to Hub Westminster to record my piece to camera about the next Clean and Cool Mission. We announce the early details next week and the website will feature a video of me, Guy Pattison (from the co-leading The Long Run Venture) and Stephen Marcus of Mission host Cleantech Group. More next week...

The next day started at Central St Martin’s in their impressive Granary Square building. I was with Ben Griffin our Design Lead to talk about sustainable design and innovation with a team at CSM. We saw some excellent portfolios from students and the wonderful facilities they have as well as learning how a culturally diverse (around 90 different nationalities) and young group of people living in London are a great way to gather future insights.

Ben and I then headed to Battersea Arts Centre to meet with Jo Hunter and David Jubb and hear about how they put the user at the heart of innovation: they bring the user into the innovation process! Their ‘scratch’ approach has a producer facilitating development of a new work directly between and artist and an audience (small group). It has been very successful and they applied it to redevelopment of their large, listed building. We talked a lot about the value of creative and divergent thinking, including the study that showed children had fewer ideas for new uses of a paperclip as they got older.

I then said goodbye to Ben and, staying sarf of the river, headed to London Bridge and the Futures Cities Catapult. They were kindly hosting a meeting of Forum for the Future’s Sustainable Business Model Group with me providing the ‘problem’ this time. I was keen for the member companies to tell us what was stopping them moving to more circular business models and systems. How could they be part of value networks that kept resources in more productive use for longer? We had a great discussion and it will be used to shape a competition for early next year.

During the meeting David Bent showed us how forward thinking the Mr Men are. Mr Silly (in a book David was reading to his children) tried to buy a hole but instead was offered a spade. He found this very silly, whereas the ‘normal’ people thought Mr Silly was the daft one. A nice summing up of consumer barriers to circular economy!

Wednesday I headed north to Wellingborough to visit one of BASF’s research farms (pic below) where they look at increasing biodiversity on farmland. The farmer (a fellow Pitts) explained that using field borders which are essentially unproductive land (and no more than 5%) to grow plants that increase biodiversity has advantages. The Grange Farm has seen around 250% increase in breeding birds over four years and an increase in pollinators and natural pest predators (they hadn’t sprayed for aphids for 7 years). The plants provide a green wall and root filtration against pesticide contamination of the farm streams as well.

Heading home I caught up with Shoothill who were about to launch GaugeMap as a result of a project we funded with them, see: This provides all river gauge data in the UK and can help not only river users but those at flood risk to plan. Each gauge also has its own Twitter account you can follow. They’d even had some early celebrity endorsement!

Thursday and Friday I worked through planning two big competitions later this year and some of the paperwork involved, as well as a review with the boss and a teleconference to prepare next week’s meetings.

Other topics discussed this week: Caitlin Moran, Facebook profiles, dried Weetabix, roadmapping.

Stat of the week:  For every five houses we build in the UK, the equivalent of one house in waste materials gets put into landfill. See:

This weeks’ travel carbon footprint: 38 kg CO2

Mike Pitts