Take a look at this video care of Ideas Project

“I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet of understanding how to leverage the power of these social dynamics, but I think a key to unlocking the potential is going to be through developing better tools to visualize our human capital, which would be a combination of our strengths, our skills, and our social connections.”


Investment in start-ups relies more on mentoring and marketing than concerns about Intellectual property and patents.

That was the message of Jon Bradford,Part-time VC, and technology evangelist who was speaking at the Christmas Northern Start up event held in Manchester last night.

After a journey that has taken from Arthur Anderson’s in London to Newcastle via Melbourne and Silicon Valley,Bradford has launched The Difference Engine.

The idea came from his initial look into investing in technology start ups.He couldn’t see businesses that he wanted to invest in,whereas it used to cost loads of money to build soft ware business,it now cost little

He then asked the question,how do you cope with that and how do you tackle micro investment?

The result is the difference engine,an acceleration programme for early stage digital businesses.It is a is a full-time 16 week acceleration programme which combines investment capital of £20,000 (for 8% of the business) with mentoring, support and office accommodation with various other services provided by partners.

For the first four weeks of the course,the entrants are subjected to what Jon described as a “being given a good kicking ” where their plans and ideas are put under intense scrutiny from every single angle.Only after those initial four weeks are they allowed to start building their programme.

At the end of the course they are ready to pitch and present for venture capital.

What’s Jon looking for? His answer- the entrepreneur who will work on their ideas not matter what and see it as a life style decision.

If you’re interest get applying.Applications close on the 4th January and the the first 16 week course begins 10th Feb

What are the eight things that you need to know about collaboration?

Well Dale Arseneault believes that these are the important ones

1. Collaboration is over used and mis-used and is becoming a buzzword for business people and technologists alike

2. Collaboration isn’t the same as cooperation or coordination – each have different processes, practices and depth of engagement

3. Collaboration is a human process – throwing technology at people won’t magically/automatically create collaboration

4. Meaningful, productive collaboration won’t happen without mutuality of desired outcomes, shared values of transparency and information sharing, compassion, compromise

5. Collaboration implies that “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the needs of the one” and sometimes people aren’t really interested in living by that principle

6. Collaboration isn’t always the best process

7. Collaboration is not equal to Web 2.0

8. Collaboration can be a source of real value in the face of complex environments and situations where no single person has the right answer

I got a chance to visit the inspiring Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at MOSI a few days ago. The word polymath is perhaps over-used these days – certainly a man of da Vinci’s incredibly diverse talents still puts most of the human race into the shade.

He believed, absolutely, that there is no art without science. His intense curiosity about the world around him led him to be a painter, engineer, inventor, musician, scientist and mathematician.

Leonardo da vinci

Leonardo da vinci

I think that is more difficult today. A few hundred years ago, different branches of science and philosophy were more closely intertwined, and scholars often crossed over between what we would now consider to be disparate branches of knowledge. As world knowledge grew, specialisms developed and the sciences (what we would now broadly distinguish as biology, chemistry & physics) grew apart from each other and from the arts and humanities.

With this came culture change – and not in a good way. In the national mindset, arts and sciences became two foreign lands: arts people would perfectly happily confess their ignorance of scientific matters, and scientists would do likewise with art and philosophy. It became OK to be selectively ignorant.

This led to the novelist and scientist CP Snow to give his famous “Two Cultures” lecture in 1959, out of pure frustration with the way that otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people would put up imaginary barriers to their wider learning.

Innovation often happens ‘at the edges’ – the interface between different groups or sectors or disciplines – but we often have to achieve this despite of our standard school curriculum and national culture.  I generalise of course. But there’s much more we could do to bring different arts and science disciplines together. I vote that as a nation we start mixing things up a lot more. It’ll be fun, educational and productive – what more could you ask?

Havard Business school and Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs and have identified five skills that drive innovation.

The five skills that are seen as separating the blue-sky innovators from the rest associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.

1.Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields.

2.Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask “why?”, “why not?” and “what if?”

3.Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers.

4,Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots.

5.Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives.

What do you think?

In an interview with America’s CNN,one of the researchers,Hal Gregersen said

“The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions, adding

“For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they’re used to reading history they might try psychology. All these behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them.”


The full study can be seen in December’s Harvard Business Review

I have just come across this cartoon thanks to Stefan Lindegaard’s Continous Innovation Group.

As he says,”Internal forces are often the worst enemies of innovation.”

Innovation Cartoon

Innovation Cartoon

The UK’s economic success will depend upon its ability to commercialise and profit from research and ideas and to innovate in the service sector and creative.

Innovation was responsible for nearly 2/3 of private sector productivity growth in the UK between 2000-2007

That’s the conclusion of NESTA who earlier today launched its innovation index.

According to the research,UK businesses invested £133bn in innovation in 2007,representing 14 per cent  of private sector output. More than three-quarters of this came from “hidden innovation”, in areas other than research and development.

The index showed that a significant part of  innovative performance came not from the tradition area of R&D but areas such as design,organisational innovation and the development of innovative skills.

There was also a firm link between innovation and growth.

The study surveyed 1500 firms in the UK across nine sectors.

You can download a PDF of the full survey HERE

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