Accelerators spreading like wildfire: in Applied Creativity March 2012

Accelerators – spreading like wildfire – the essential fuel for innovation in the economy?

The growth of Accelerators in the US is now being matched by Europe and elsewhere (see Nesta’s hot-off-the press report about the 19 schemes now up and running at Moreover as corporates turn increasingly to open sourcing for their innovations, the new businesses emerging from Accelerators are providing the fuel for their increasing appetites for innovation. It is not a matter of whether big organisations or small are the better sources of growth in our economy; they both form part

of the larger innovation eco-system. 


 Applied Creativity

                                                   An E-/Bulletin from

                                  The Centre for Leadership in Creativity

                                              in association with Nesta

                                             Edited by John Whatmore                        

                              March 2012


*         A plethora of opportunities for new businesses – fuelled by IT and telecoms


*         Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus – a Phoenix and a

          new model


*         BT’s R&D uses Hothousing in a big way

*       Accelerator Learning Programmes – for very early-stage



*         Pressure cookers for business: where have accelerators come from

         and, crucially, where are they going


*         A Miscellany:

     – Nesta to meet incubator leaders to discuss the ‘accelerator’ model

          – Other European countries more methodical in their approaches

            to innovation: PRIZM – the latest evolution from TRIZ

– Express yourself in the new Dance your PhD contest!  Or just

            draw your work.



                                    *                                    *                                    *


A plethora of opportunities for new businesses –

fuelled by IT and telecoms.

Among highlights for 2012: apps for people on the move’s Smartphones; advanced ‘analytics’, enabling organisations to make even more use of search engines for selling; and businesses made possible by the ability of mobile devices to enable people to share and exchange things; but existing Angel organisations are not yet proactive in their support.  (


Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus –

a Phoenix and a new model

Mix together different disciplines and technologies, theory goes, and the sparks of creativity and innovation will fly; but many science parks (like incubators) have been more like property companies than crucibles of alchemy.

The Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus ( has risen over the last seven years like the Phoenix out of a laboratory whose heart had been ripped out by the loss of a contract for the big new Synchrotron Radiation facility (evidence for another theory: that there is no opportunity like a crisis!).

             It is a new centre of innovation and enterprise with an interesting model

( – centres of excellence in three fields of science: accelerator science, computational science and sensor/detector technology) beside a large number of hi-tech small businesses, all glued together by an ethos of openness and collaboration).

It can show excellent metrics of success, and just now is about to enter a more challenging but potentially yet more rewarding phase (ie attracting the interest of large corporates).


BT’s R&D uses Hothousing in a big way                                                                       BT has for some time had special spaces designed to support small problem-solving conferences, used for ‘problems to fix’ and ‘[new] concepts to market’, but also for reviewing and developing strategy. They are now being used as the precursor for all relevant R&D team projects, where projects are divided into 13-week stages, and are  prefaced by a Hothouse – an intensive workshop designed to search out new approaches for the ensuing stage of the project. (

Accelerator Learning Programmes – for very early-stage venturers are emerging, designed to develop their capabilities to the point where their propositions are of investable quality. The formats of their learning element are very similar; but the mentoring element and their sources of funding differ – according to how commercial they are likely to be. (See and links to examples.)


Pressure Cookers for business – what next

From their origins in the 1940s to their latest embodiment as Accelerators in 2011, ‘Pressure Cookers’ in business have been getting longer and longer; but there are some that are even longer than these 13-week Accelerator programmes, like Springboard at Cambridge, which I recently caught a glimpse of. So what will happen to the concept of the Pressure Cooker? How will it change and develop?

I suggest here that some will be longer and some shorter; they will become specialised to different fields; longer ones will be split up into smaller bites; learning will be personal and on-the-job; and mentoring will become a team effort. (


The Centre for Leadership in Creativity (a ‘virus for creativity’) carries out research and providesconsult-ancy and peer-to-peer learning for organisations where creativity and innovation are vital.


Copyrigh 2012

The Centre for Leadership in Creativity              138 Iffley Road,London W6 OPE           

Tel/fax: 020 8748 2553                                              E-mail:


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