UK Innovation needs leaders

Initiatives in Innovation in the UK need to be more actively analysed and followed on

Yes, we have an organisation whose role it is to chart the way forward for UK Technologies (the Technology Strategy Board), but none for doing so for UK Innovation (Nesta’s focus is research more than development). An analogy from horse racing (first item below) prompts ideas about where Innovation would be most profitable. In the meantime, innovation is led by whatever initiatives happen – see below: initiatives corporate, academic, in social enterprise, via new enterprises, and less surely, by initiatives in public funding.

Applied Creativity Briefings from John Whatmore at

The Centre for Leadership in Creativity November 2013

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Profiting in times of extreme uncertainty: an analogy from the turf  We asked some expert punters how they would make money in horse-racing if:

  • race courses and races were changing from day to day (ie the business environment changing rapidly);
  • there were many more horses in training (ie more competition);
  • horses were strikingly more ‘trainable’ (ie innovations becoming more common and more radical);
  • owners and trainers were preoccupied with trying out new ways of getting the best out of their horses? (industry increasingly preoccupied with innovation).

Their answers included:

  • bet on more horses (ie increasing one’s chances by spreading one’s risk);
  • bet your money on trainers (ie backing skill/expertise);
  • invest in a horse transport business (ie services to participants);
  • buy a bookmaker! (ie services to backers).

(Originally published in Applied Creativity, May 2010, and still more relevant!)

 To Accelerate or not to Accelerate: that is the question

While it will be impossible for some time yet to prove that Accelerators are effective, the likes of Google and Microsoft are busily betting on their future. (

Small, elite university incubator launches into new space

Focusing on a small number of technologies that are ripe for commercialisation, and a small number of students or alumni with an interest in entrepreneurialism whose careers it seeks to advance, the Incubator of Cass University Business School has a new home which is unique in having alongside it a co-working space where students and alumni have the opportunity to be matched up with Tech City entrepreneurs. (

US non-profit ‘Village Capital’ has a different perspective on social enterprise: objectives first, resources next

Village Capital sees capital as a resource in the service of its mission rather than as a determinant of new businesses; and puts projects and teams together on the basis of what will best achieve the social objectives it espouses. (

Dreamstake, the free website for aspiring entrepreneurs which measures their progress, is growing, and expanding its offering; and it has done some diagnostics

Dreamstake, a fast-growing free interactive startup platform for entrepreneurs which has a rating feature that acts as a marker of their progress has added regular educational events at Google Campus in Tech City. And some recent statistical analysis reveals aspects of their businesses. (

Universities are being dragged into more commercialisation of their research

A small but elite conference brought together by new publication Global University Venturing indicated areas of progress as well as areas of obduracy, but added urgency to the task. (

Professionalising the playgrounds; and thickening up the pot of post-Accelerator funding – EU funds for London Accelerators

For participants in sixteen London Accelerators, funding has been promised – to pay for mentors and others supporters; and for co-investing in new businesses exiting these Accelerators. But this omits other possibilities. (


The Centre for Leadership in Creativity (a ‘virus for creativity’) carries out research and provides consultancy and peer-to-peer learning for organisations looking to enhance their creativity and innovation.

Copyright John Whatmore 2013

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

Tel: 020 8748 2553                                                 E-mail:


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