The future of home improvement

04, April, 2014 by Rick Holland

Last week the National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day highlighted the increasing problem of fuel poverty in the UK and the ways to help people stay...

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Regrets? I have a few….

23, December, 2013 by David Bott

One of the attractions of a valedictory post is that it gives me an excuse to look back over the last 6 or more years, and consider what has gone well and what has gone “less well”. Leaving at Christmas also gives me to time to think. This list in personal and very much in the “to do” mode I discussed in the last post! ...

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The problem of comparing lists

11, December, 2013 by David Bott

We are accustomed to lists. They help us make sense of a complex world. They have a certain familiarity. We have lists of the most popular music, the best-selling cars, the richest people and so on. Many of the lists we construct are a comparison of similar things and tend to have a quantitative ordering. But there are other lists that are more difficult to explain. ...

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Separated by a common language?

06, November, 2013 by David Bott

It's one of those issues that seem to have come up again and again recently. People using the same word to mean different things. The meaning each of us imbeds in a word is a product of our education and experience. At the #ScienceMeetsDesign event the other evening, we had several attempts at defining some important words in our own way. That left me...

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Why 8 and 9?

28, October, 2013 by David Bott

At the beginning of the year I tried to explain how our ideas about Catapults had evolved as we designed and assembled the first 7. We realised the importance of alignment with our other programmes – not only so that they could source the “second third” of their funding, but also because our programmes are derived from extensive...

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The Inside Track to Success

28, August, 2013 by David Bott

Over the last 6 years, the Technology Strategy Board has helped support economic growth by helping innovative UK-based companies. We have done this by sharing a vision of where a particular market or technology could go, by connecting companies with other companies or universities where missing bits of their business puzzle might lie, by providing insight into the way government policy is developing or (if all else fails) funding them for about half the costs of the...

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An exotherm of Catalysts

09, August, 2013 by David Bott

One of the things slightly hidden in the recent announcement about our Spending Review settlement for 2015/16 was the extension of our commitment to Catalysts. The first Catalyst was announced in November 2011 and was focussed on the biomedical area. It was a response to the...

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“The Future is Here” is here

31, July, 2013 by David Bott

I should get the declaration of interests out of the way first. I am a physical sciences geek. As a child I took things to pieces – and occasionally put them back together again. I read science books. I was given endless “science project” birthday and Christmas presents. I trained as a scientist and got my first job as a scientist in industry. Over time, I have added a veneer of being a businessman, but I cannot walk past a cool piece of...

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Money makes the world go around (reissued)

16, July, 2013 by David Bott

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. I got to musing about it all recently when the debate about a Green Investment Bank appeared and

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Technology Strategy Board Feasibility Study Projects – They work.

01, July, 2013 by David Evans

Independent report finds Feasibility Study funding encourages additional R&D spend An independent report has shown that the Technology Strategy Board’s Feasibility Study funding (small grants of on average £40k for short term projects to help businesses explore the technical...

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Tilting the playing field

10, June, 2013 by David Bott

Innovation is hard. To do something new almost invariably requires taking risk. Whereas individuals are often comfortable with that risk, it has been my observation that organisations of even moderate size start to institute systems to avoid rather than mitigate risk. This means that, over time, most organisations lose their risk appetite and start to get comfortable. These last few weeks have given us the opportunity to look at ways to “rebalance” the risk...

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Welcoming three new additions to the Future Cities Demonstrator community!

10, April, 2013 by David Altabev

When we first started the Future Cities Demonstrator programme, we intended to fund 20 feasibility studies and one large-scale demonstrator. As the competition process developed, the quality of the cities submissions led us to funding 30 feasibility studies. Again due to the outstanding quality of applications for the competition that was won by Glasgow; we’ve decided that Bristol, London and Peterborough as the other three short-listed proposals will each receive grant funding of £3m...

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Energy blog

03, April, 2013 by Rob Saunders

The UK is committed to a balanced mix of different power generation options, including gas, nuclear and renewables. Indeed, the UK has commitments under EU legislation to expand its use of renewable energy to 20% by 2020. As the UK has such a small renewable heat sector, that means a proportionately larger tranche of renewable electricity. But the challenge of renewable electricity is that a number of these technologies are relatively new – and quite expensive. Take offshore...

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Commitment and Spend

03, April, 2013 by David Bott

When I worked in industry money was moderately easy to understand. For each product you sold you worried about the cost of making it and what a customer would pay for it, you needed to keep a sufficient amount in the bank to cover your costs – that sort of thing. As a part of government, albeit at arms length, I have had to learn a whole new way of thinking about money. What most people know about us is our competitions and that we commit to support selected projects in the form...

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The road to success is always under construction

17, March, 2013 by David Bott

Last week we held our combined conference and exhibition – this year organised jointly with UKTI – at the Business Design Centre. Although we meet a large number of companies throughout the year, Innovate UK is obviously an intense period of interaction and engagement. The third day was focused on what we do for smaller and younger companies, an area where we have had an increasing interaction since we were spun out of government in 2007. Although there was praise, there were also areas...

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Catapult centres - full speed ahead with great people leading from the front!

12, March, 2013 by Simon Edmonds

When the Technology Strategy Board was spun out of Government six years ago, it was given 3 tools to support business with – Collaborative Research & Development Grants, Knowledge Transfer Networks and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. As our organisation gained experience and spent time listening to businesses about what the best way would be to support them, it became obvious that the toolset needed expanding. So we did. With “feasibility studies” - to help companies (of all sizes)...

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Energy Efficient Computing

21, February, 2013 by Jonathan Mitchener

The world is becoming ever more computerised, with processing power still growing in line with Moore’s Law (doubling every two years). The size of datasets seems to be growing at a comparable speed! This means that the power load of many premises is soaring. Digital devices and systems – big and small, complex and simple – are already responsible for a significant proportion of the electricity consumption of developed economies and are set to grow. Cloud computing data centres are...

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The state of the Catapult Nation

06, February, 2013 by Iain Gray

On Monday 28th January, the Technology Strategy Board, the Big Innovation Centre and the IET hosted a lunch to celebrate the progress of the Catapult network and the publishing of a BIC report on their overseas equivalents. This is what I said to introduce the event. "My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome. I would like to thank Lord Broers very much for his kind words and for hosting us here at the House of Lords today. I am Iain Gray,...

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The trajectory of Catapults

21, January, 2013 by David Bott

Some time ago, I set out to explain our thinking behind the Catapults. At that point we had begun the roll-out of the programme and what I described was, admittedly, mostly theoretical. We have now taken the business case for the seventh catapult to our Governing Board for approval and have learnt a lot over the 8 months since I last wrote on the subject. Our core goal is to...

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HVM meets its makers

12, December, 2012 by Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson, Lead Technologist for High Value Manufacturing (HVM) at the Technology Strategy Board, is convinced he’s just met his successor! Along with 120 young and very talented designers and ‘makers’, he joined in with the two-day Enabled by Design-athon workshop event on 2nd and 3rd of...

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Another type of rebalancing

03, December, 2012 by David Bott

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! Being a public agency comes with a whole bunch of rules, some of which are obviously sensible and some of which are inherited from our previous existence (when they were probably...

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Planning your way to success?

29, October, 2012 by David Bott

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. Something happened a few weeks ago which gave me an insight into what we (at the Technology Strategy Board) do and – now – I see the evidence...

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The difficult second album

17, July, 2012 by David Bott

The present incarnation of the Technology Strategy Board started on July 2nd 2007, so we have 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...

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We hold these truths - LIVE

13, May, 2012 by David Bott

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... As Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, the UK government’s innovation agency, I get asked about innovation all the time. Although I am now a public servant, I have spent most of my career in...

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The Cambridge Phenomenon - 50 High Technology and Innovation Businesses

18, March, 2012 by Iain Gray

Cambridge is a great source of technology and, as part of the ‘Golden Triangle’, is the catalyst for many spin out companies and large corporate research centres from business around the world. The University has one of the strongest reputations for science and technology and has played host to some of the greatest scientists from across the last few centuries, including establishing the world famous Cavendish...

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Is committment more important than direction?

27, January, 2012 by David Bott

Last week I went to the “Scientists meet the Media” party at the Royal Society. This is an annual event where scientists, both from universities and agencies like ours, mingle with journalists – the whole thing lubricated by industrial amounts of alcohol. There was a slight frisson about the letter to the Telegraph in the background...

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The North East, England - 50 High technology and innovation businesses

23, December, 2011 by Iain Gray

The North East of England is a place I know reasonably well from a family and social perspective. I am also familiar with the area’s overall science and innovation priorities from my good relationships with One North East and have enjoyed a number of visits to the area with the Technology Strategy Board. I have close relationships with the teams at Narec at Blythe and CPI at Wilton, have good contacts with...

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Naming the centres

08, December, 2011 by Iain Gray

Today is an exciting moment in an exciting journey; an important step in creating the new network of world-leading technology and innovation centres. It’s the moment of naming, when the centres gain their identity. We have consulted, discussed, brainstormed and worked with some of the UK’s leading brand experts to find a solution that expresses the excitement and dynamism of the idea behind the programme, and have what I believe is a great name that does just that. The...

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How can we make sustainability mainstream?

19, November, 2011 by Richard Miller

As long as sustainability is seen as a ‘project’ or an ‘initiative’, it will always be disconnected from the mainstream thinking in an organisation. It should not be the responsibility of a specific team or individual. We don’t make thinking about markets, products and services, costs, customer needs, or technologies the responsibility of a separate function – at least in the more successful innovative companies we don’t. We must make sustainability thinking just a natural part of the...

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Oxfordshire - 50 High Tech and Innovation Businesses with Oxfordshire LEP

04, November, 2011 by Iain Gray

It is interesting to be challenged about the engagement of the Technology Strategy Board on a sector basis, or on a geographic basis, because it invariably prompts me to explore and discover new exciting technology innovations and companies. It remains a fact that there are more companies who 'haven’t heard of us' than...

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Wales - A list of 50 High Tech and Innovation Businesses across North and South Wales

18, September, 2011 by Iain Gray

Ahead of a visit to Wales in October 2011 I compiled a list of 50 high technology and innovation business and organisation links across North and South Wales. Although it is often said that Wales lacks big business brands the list shows there are good examples where big business has invested in technology in Wales. Wales is supported by good universities, has invested in its own Technium centres...

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The North West, England - 50 High technology and innovation businesses

06, February, 2011 by Iain Gray

Ahead of my visit to the North West in February 2011 I carried out a bit of web research and developed a list of 50 high technology and innovation businesses in what is still the NorthWest RDA region. The list is by no means exhaustive and does not in any way imply a priority listing order. The companies listed do however reinforce the four priority sub-sectors developed through the North West Science Council : BioHealth,Chemicals, Aerospace and...

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Bristol - A list of 50 High Tech and Innovation across the City

30, January, 2011 by Iain Gray

Ahead of giving a speech to local Bristol businesse in January 2011 on the SS Great Britain I compiled a list of 50 high technology and innovation business and organisation links in the Bristol area. Not surprisingly recurring themes developed in the list around digital, electronics , aerospace and the creative industries. The list is in no particular order, and there are of course many businesses not included. I attach the list for future reference and for others...

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Knowledge Transfer Partnerships - Accelerating Business Innovation

05, December, 2010 by Iain Gray

I am speaking at the National Knowledge Transfer Partnership Manager’s Conference in Coventry in December . A lot has been achieved over the last couple of years following the challenge in Lord Sainsbury’s ‘Race to the Top’ to double the number of KTP’s. KTP managers from around our universities and FE Colleges are to be...

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Using SBRI to drive innovation

28, November, 2010 by Iain Gray

It was back in June 2010 that NESTA issued a report ( that reviewed progress of the SBRI programme...

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London High Tech Businesses

23, November, 2010 by Iain Gray

The festival clebrating 'The Story of London' was run between 1st and 10th October, 2010 - it featured a number of lectures and panel debates. I was asked to participate in the debate 'Is London missing out on the potential of new technologies?' As part of my research ahead of the debate I challenged myself to put together an example list of 50 high tech or innovation businesses. The list is not in any order, and is by no means exhaustive. I hope the list can be of some...

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Scotland High Tech Businesses

22, November, 2010 by Iain Gray

A list of 50 Scottish High Tech businesses and Innovation centres created ahead of November 2010 Technology Strategy Board visit to Scotland. The list is in no particular order and of course is not an inclusive list. Many of the examples listed have direct links to Technology Strategy Board programmes including CR&D, Eurostars and KTP funded projects. 1. Aquamarine Power...

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Northern Ireland High Tech Businesses

22, November, 2010 by Iain Gray

Before attending the Northern Ireland KTP Awards at Queens University Belfast in November 2010 I pulled together a list of 50 high tech businesses in Northern Ierland. The list is in no particular order, and there are of course businesses not included but I attach the list for future reference 1. Wrightbus world class manufacturer of low floor buses

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Another brick in the wall

09, April, 2010 by David Bott

Last week saw the two days of Collaboration Nation, our new format for showcasing the outcomes of our feasibility studies competitions and creating a springboard for ideas to progress further. The first day, March 30th, was focused on projects in the technology space. This was the next step in the roll-out of our “beacons” process, which was developed as a way of finding and...

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Into the valley of silicon rode the twenty (and helpers)

10, February, 2010 by David Bott

It is often easy to identify the moment when an idea crystallises and then easy 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… For the record, it was about 8 o’clock in the evening on...

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