The Internet of Thingummies

Aside

My worst Christmas dream

I woke up (I think) and opened one eye to peak at my radio alarm clock as I have for the last thirty odd years – to check on the time. But its screen was different to-day: slightly larger than the old one, it had four lines of text on it: ‘Good morning, John’ it read. ‘You have slept for 6.27 hours. Your temperature is 37 degrees. You have 15 e-mails, 27 tweets, two LinkedIn and 17 Facebook messages’, it announced. I buried my head in the pillow as quickly as possible. When eventually I looked up again, the messages had changed. ‘Don’t forget your Mother’s birthday to-morrow. And you asked to be reminded about: the milk, the cat and thanking your children.’ Dear me, yes! I had completely forgotten, for just one moment, about their gift, and reluctantly I picked up the mobile phone, and put on the watch and the specs that were also part of the system that comprised Premium Membership of the Xanadu Lifestyle Internet Club that my children had heard about as at the Consumer Electronics Show and had clubbed together to buy me for Christmas – by magic from the Alibaba website, they said. I believed them. Thus equipped, I was supposed to feel like a ‘Complete New Man,’ purred the instructions. As though to reinforce its presence, my watch promptly buzzed and a message appeared on the tiny screen at the top of my specs. ‘Your Mother Skyped you 3.2 minutes ago’, it read. I pulled my phone from my pocket. It was flashing a message. ‘Your heart rate is 87; your temperature is 39.4 degrees’, it read; ‘your doctor has been told.’ I jabbed at the screen where it said ‘Call back’, and a disembodied Japanese voice came on: ‘Adding bottle Suntory Gin to your shopping list’, it said in conspiratorial tones. I jabbed again to try and call my Mother. This time a cultured Indian voice: ‘Your doctor will see you at 16.42 on 19 Feb,’ it said. ‘Hi-fitness Skipping Ropes Inc has a special offer that you can pick up by clicking on this dongle when you are getting the milk’, it added. My watch suddenly emitted a piercing tone and my phone and my specs all showed a red message: ‘After deducting the Vet’s Direct Debit, you are overdrawn by £0.74’, they read. Then another: ‘The front tyre of your bicycle has a puncture; the spare is in the third drawer down in the cabinet on the left of the fireplace’. Then another. ‘Your train is running 6.4 minutes late, so you will miss your connection at Clapham Junction’. Then another. ‘Your boss thinks you are….’. I put the specs in front of the watch in front of the phone beside the alarm clock, and muttered two words to them all; and strode off into the blue, wondering how on earth to thank my children for the Internet of Thingummies, and hoping but with little hope for a better dream to-morrow.

John Whatmore

A new mentoring website

Aside

Compete for hi-value (and high price) mentoring on a new website
Good mentoring is like gold dust: hard to find but of incomparable value. It is easy to be seduced into a relationship with a name, but of greater value is to be able to get the help you need when you need it.

Support is of the essence for hi-growth young businesses – as they deal with problems that their entrepreneurs have never encountered before. The quantity and quality of supporters is one of the distinctive characteristics of Accelerators – typically 13-week programmes of intensive development that aim to help such businesses get to their next milestone. Effective mentoring provides startups with just the help they need and just when they need it; but their input is not easy to manage (1).

An online platform that aims to connect budding entrepreneurs with seasoned mentors in their field has just been launched. Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas on the Toucan website and those that earn enough votes are introduced to the 40-odd mentors – who don’t take any payment but get early exposure to the brightest new talents and the most promising new ideas in their world. Selected entrepreneurs pay 2 – 7% of equity to Toucan, plus a finder’s fee if subsequent finance is raised.

It’s an ingenious idea. The piece about it in The Times (15.1.15) touts a couple of good names among the mentors and has attracted a number of startups to the website; but it is essentially an expensive, internet-based, early-stage Dragons’ Den.

Good mentoring is indeed like gold dust – hard to find but of incomparable value. Mentor ‘managers’ are even rarer; they combine extensive experience with a fat address book (2), and they also have a knack for effecting good matches. Mentors need an intimate understanding of the developing business together with the ability to introduce other available specialist help (3).

Jonathan Shawcross COO Group IT at Lloyds Bank has been mentoring one of ten social entrepreneurs on an eight-month course run by the School of Social Entrepreneurs for the Cabinet Office.
‘He has helped me’ she said, ‘to refine my business plan and got me connected to the bank’s specialist in social care…who arranged for me to shadow a successful startup entrepreneur in the care sector.’
‘Opening a new business is hard and there are moments I felt like it is all too much for me. At those times having Jonathan at the end of the phone makes a big difference.’

Most Accelerator Programme Managers bring a host of connections to the job and are able to attract a range of experienced entrepreneurs to act as mentors (who do the job out of interest and not for pay). A new website called eRipple is aiming to encompass relevant information about mentors – their knowledge, experience and availability; but no website can replace the mentor ‘manager’, just as no website can predict love matches! Accelerators usually hold introductory Mentor Days, when the entrepreneurs and the mentors are introduced to one another, often in a speed-dating style (4). And the needs of entrepreneurs change as their business develops.

We are currently running a research project on mentoring; and will be holding a Workshop on mentoring and mentor management shortly – contact me for details.

See also:
1. Mentoring: great benefits, but considerable problems
The benefits and the problems are well recognised. Several different routes are evolving, and four distinct approaches to the managing of mentors have different benefits and different problems. http://wp.me/p3beJt-9E

2 ‘Mentor Managers’ can work miracles for startups
Above all else, early-stage ventures need their hands holding in their new adventures, but they have no idea about whose hands to hold. Mentor Managers can help them by finding experienced and expert mentors. http://wp.me/p3beJt-9R

3. I interview the ‘best mentor’ in Startupbootcamp’s FinTech Accelerator
In and out frequently, he steadily evolved his role by offering the wealth and breadth of experience of a life-time’s work in a top bank – clarifying progress and problems, acting as a sounding board, offering experienced insights, and marshalling help. http://wp.me/p3beJt-9P

4. I am a fly on the wall at an Accelerator’s Mentor Day
The day provided the programme’s entrepreneurs a free-form opportunity to meet mentors and for them to learn something about each other. It suggested to me five different mentor roles. http://wp.me/p3beJt-8N

john.whatmore@btinternet.com
January 2015

Ideas via Intermediaries

Aside

Ideas via Intermediaries
A collection of stories about the ingenious use
of different perspectives

Introduction
How often we are floored when we have to think about what kinds of things to do that might help us to get new ideas for solving one of our problems. The same old approaches come readily to mind (look for analogies/do something different/leave the problem to incubate etc), but the stepping stones we think up feel either way-out or else too weak; and we lack the courage to play with them.
Jurgen Wolff, the writer and teacher of creative writing skills, in his monthly newsletter “Brainstorm” suggested an approach: ‘for a current challenge you are facing, generate a list of situations that have something in common with it, and a list of apparently dissimilar situations. Then brainstorm ways that the latter are similar, and see what new ideas that gives you”.
Sometimes you hear stories about ways in which problem-owners have introduced people with radically different perspectives who have been able to come up with magical ideas. Below you will find some.

* British Airways used often to pay for a day of his/her time to a specialist from a different field in order to get new perspectives on old problems. On one occasion, faced with the problem of how to stop grease trails developing along the aisle floor-covering from the galley of an aircraft, they invited an expert on the lay-out and equipping of surgical theatres to help them. (Bob Nelson, then at BA)

* A group of cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital, concerned at the dangers involved when an infant was handed over from Surgery to Intensive Care because monitoring and feed lines had to be disconnected and new ones reconnected, asked Maclaren, the Formula One racing company, to help them because of their expertise in the pit stop. (John Farago, Royal Society of Arts.)

* First Great Western wanted to develop new products and they invited a Cabin Service Director from British Airways to their session along with a specialist in Stress Relief, Yoga and NLP! Needless to say the results went far beyond just train-related products and gave the resulting new product development ideas a much broader scope than would probably otherwise have happened. (Carole Lee, LB Innovations)

* Which direction? Not so long ago, but before the fast digital communications revolution, BT had a growing problem they needed help to solve. When routing phone calls at peak times, calls blocked by volume of traffic would be passed from one major centre to the next in the general direction of where the call was headed. This eventually caused a blockage at the next point and so on until the system became very slow. Apparently they approached Cambridge University Maths Dept. for a solution. After some modelling effort, it was soon demonstrated that the ‘random walk approach’ was the answer. This simply chose any route at random and this ended up being far more efficient at finding a clear path than persistently trying the main and hence busiest routes. At the speed calls are transmitted, even with contorted loops and doubling back, the extra distances travelled were not noticeable. (Graham Bushnell-Wye, CCLRC)

* An interactive illustration of apportioning time to tasks – useful at group meetings. Standing at the front of the room, the lecturer asks how many of these big stones can I get in this one litre glass container. Several suggestions are forthcoming and 5 or 6 stones are fitted in comfortably. “Is the container full – can I fit anything else in?” is asked. “It’s pretty full, so probably not” is the usual answer from the audience. Then a bag of pebbles is produced and much of the contents duly poured into the container, fitting into the voids left by the stones. “Is it full now?” – fewer people in the audience now think so. A bag of sand is produced and some of this too is added as the grains fit between the pebbles and stones. “Is it full now?” – not many think so at this stage and, sure enough, a bottle of water appears and some of this tipped into the container. “What’s the message for time management then”, asks the lecturer. A volunteer says “You can carry on squeezing more and more into the time available”. “No!”, says the lecturer, “whilst that is true, if I’d tried to put the stones in after the pebbles, sand and water, I wouldn’t have been able to fit any in. The thing is, to make sure you put in the important things first, then fit in the less important things around them.” OR, for time management, the most important thing is to spend time doing the most important thing, AND, to determine the most important things when planning your year/month/week/day. Ask yourself what thing(s) can I do that will have the greatest impact on the organisation/ my team/ my personal objectives/ my home life (important to consider home-life balance too!). (Graham Bushnell-Wye, CCLRC)

* One particular Canadian Province was having problems during the winter with ice build-up on the telephone lines that stretched across the province on telegraph poles. Each winter when the ice built up and the weight became too much the lines would break and the province had to send out teams to repair the broken telephone lines. They got together a team of people to try and work out how to a) stop the ice build-up, b) save some money as it was a costly exercise each time it happened and c) ensure the phone lines stayed up for customers! They held an open creative brainstorming session where people were asked to offer ideas as to how to stop the build-up of ice. During the initial session someone wrote or offered ‘get bears to climb the poles’. During the first review the person was asked how this would stop ice build-up and it was said that if bears climbed the telegraph poles then the poles shaking as they climbed would cause the ice to break up, loosen and fall. So along with other ideas they freewheeled again and were asked how might they get the bears to climb the poles, the answer came out, ‘put food on top of the poles to encourage them to climb’. Mmm, good but how do you get food on top of the poles? Well another solution came out, you could fly a helicopter low level and drop food on to the top of the poles. At this point came the Eureka moment when someone realised that if you flew low level in a helicopter along the phone lines, the downdraft from the helicopter blades would be more than enough to shake the ice build-up from the lines before it got too heavy and the lines broke. So from ‘getting bears to climb the poles’ they got to ‘flying a helicopter low level along the lines’ and this is now how they keep the ice from building up on the phone lines! (Gary Austin, Circle Indigo.)

* I’ve heard of the Formula 1 pit stop idea before (urban myth?!) used to inform commercial aircraft turn-round at terminals. Similar problem: speed is essential, refuel & re-supply, get it moving again. I used to teach business process re-engineering and the generic technique I call “industry hopping”, ie take a great idea from one industry and apply it in another. Example: if your problem is marketing, identify who you think is a star at marketing, and see what they do. If you think Coca Cola is a star (and they manage to sell us fizzy acid in remarkable quantity) then consider what they do as a source of ideas. As ever, it relies on the “nothing new under the sun” principle. (Mike Barrett, Marcham Consulting.)

* I have been asked by Renison Goldfields to take a fresh view of a gold mine. As a systems person (IT consultant) I had no prior knowledge of gold mining, but that was the point. Traditionally there were two processes in sequence: dig out the ore and then extract the gold. Each operated separately. My contribution was to recognise that the only thing that really mattered was the amount of gold produced, implying that it’s better to compromise the amount and/or choice of ore if that meant more gold produced. I think I had unusual advantages in having great trust from the client; and mine management determined to set new benchmarks for the way things were done. (Mike Barrett, Marcham Consulting.)

* A recent Radio 4 programme was about natural analogies and the fact that BT has a section which develops technical ideas from nature. And there is said to be a US technology outfit called Antics or something similar which devises ideas exclusively from the behaviour of ants. (Rosie Walford, CEN Network.)

* In a workshop looking for new ideas for toothpaste based on the senses, ‘What if..” recently got a blind woman to make delegates do tasks with different visual impairments, a glassblower to talk process and textures, a cocktail barman to mix cocktails to conceptual briefs like ‘smooth white’ or deep down freshness’, and a composer to have delegates sample sounds to concept briefs then compose them in a studio into a short piece of music. (Rosie Walford, CEN Network.)

* I’ve had a masseur and Cosmopolitan magazine editor come to sessions about a contemporary female brand. (Rosie Walford, CEN Network.)

* In an effort to learn more about project management we recently had two talks back to back. The first was from the Project Manager of the London Eye and the second the Project Manager of the Windsor Castle restoration after the fire. The things I picked up where the many and different constraints that projects face. The London Eye had a fixed time (31st Dec 1999), but not fixed cost (original cost £25M – final cost £75M). The Windsor Castle contractors were chosen because of their reputation in restoration of old buildings, and known to be ‘good’ contractors – interestingly one of the highest project priorities was that the palace didn’t want any scandal about being ripped off or dodgy work. The London Eye talk was Powerpoint (ie modern) – the Windsor Castle guy showed two overheads (I think) but essentially just sat at the front of the lecture theatre and talked. Both were very good talks, but it was almost surreal seeing the different styles of presentation and how this mapped to the actual projects. Both projects were very much in the public eye and this had a factor on the project plans – not just technical issues, but ‘softer’ factors dictate how a project is run. Both had many issues to face and had to manage risk eg the London Eye had a huge safety assessment, whereas the Windsor Castle needed 10th Century skills in the 20th century. At the point of taking on the project these were not solved, but by skill, sweat and determination were won through. (Andy Dent, CCLRC.)

* One international airline wanted to improve its luggage handling system so it studied how Indianapolis 500 car crews handled their pit stops during races. (Marion Devine.

* A Californian construction company raised its rate of on-time cement deliveries from 68% to 95% by taking route planning lessons from a local pizza delivery company. (Marion Devine.)

* BT used to despatch its 80,000 strong fleet of service vans as and when calls for repairs or service were received from customers. The trouble with the system was that those customers always faced a wait, and if their phone lines were down, that delay could be, at best inconvenient, and at worst financially costly. The system was inefficient for BT too, because its personnel spent a large part of their time driving between customers’ sites and the local BT service centre. Did they invite an anthropologist in to suggest that they look at these vans as a system like that developed by ants to gather food and detect threats in the area around their nest? Rather than wait to be despatched by the nest, ants constantly patrol designated zones around it, remaining on the alert for food and enemies – without the need for a command centre. BT vans now each spend all day patrolling local areas where demand is expected and they are able to respond far more quickly to calls. In the first year after the system’s introduction, the company saved £240 million. (Do disturb: how to have better ideas. Design Council, 2001)

* Britannia Building Society got a blind person to talk to them about how he experienced different branded retail outlets – to give a perspective on non-visual branding stimulus towards the redesign of new branches. (Simon Gravatt)

* The BBC has arranged for the person who is to head its coverage of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations to get together with the person in Honda who is responsible for the launch of one of their new models. (Deryn Holland, BBC)

* A conference on mentoring for women was attended by one man – who wanted to better understand how women think. (Rachael Leggett, Sun University)

* The oil company Amerada Hess was concerned that it appeared unable to attract talented young people into the company, so they made contact with the BBC in order to learn more about how and why the BBC attracted talent so effectively. (Deryn Holland, BBC)

John Whatmore First published 2001
The Centre for Leadership in Creativity
Tel: 020 8748 2553
138 Iffley Road, London W6 OPE
E-mail: john.whatmore@btinternet.com

Mentor manager delivers miracles

Aside

‘Mentor Managers’ can work miracles for startups
Above all else, early-stage ventures need their hands holding in their new adventures, but they have no idea about whose hands to hold. Mentor Managers can help them by finding experienced and expert mentors.

Their extensive network of supporters is one of the most distinctive features of Accelerators. Their early-stage ventures have fast-changing needs for support – in terms of knowledge, expertise, advice and relationships; and keeping up with these changes and introducing people with appropriate contributions is a job for which the programme leader is often the best placed person, but he can seldom give it enough time.

One Accelerator has used a leading intermediary as their ‘mentor manager’. Once a week he would talk briefly to each team, on the first occasion to all of the team together, then each week to a different member, and ask:
What is your current ‘pain point’?
What are you currently struggling with?
to which he would add his own experienced perceptions. The CTO of one team was having trouble in managing a growing team: he was an expert in technology but managing people was a different story.

‘Validating a financial product is not as easy as going into the street and conducting a survey: you need specific experts! This team was having trouble in finding and getting in touch with a decision-maker within a large African Bank who would be a specialist in micro-credit in two specific sub-Saharan countries.’

As an intermediary, his task was then to find someone who would be able to help the team with their specific issues. There was a very good chance, he said, of doing so from within his and the Accelerator’s own extensive data-bases. With some two hundred previous startups in the latter’s data-base, within a week that CTO had meetings with numerous experts on the subject and gained tremendous confidence.

If these sources did not identify a good contact, his second line of attack was to search Google and LinkedIn by using key words, for someone with whom there could be some kind of link – with their company, their skills, their country and their activities (eg they had spoken on the topic at a recent conference).

He would contact them by e-mail, hope to spark an interest in the project, invite them just to have a 10-minute phone call with the team, then to Skype and perhaps meet.

On one occasion he searched the main VC, Tech and banking conferences in two countries, identified three people who might help a startup, and within a week had arranged Skype calls to two of them.

He brings to Startupbootcamp his experience when Up Global held Startup Weekends in some 270 cities in one single week last November; and he has kindly offered to come and tell us more about his work at the Workshop we plan to hold shortly – about mentors and mentor management.

See also:
I am a fly on the wall at an Accelerator’s Mentor Day
When the participants had an opportunity to meet the mentors at the beginning of a recent Accelerator programme, my encounters with the latter revealed five different mentor roles. http://wp.me/p3beJt-8N

John Whatmore
January 2015

What makes a great mentor – I meet one

Aside

I interview the ‘best mentor’ in Startupbootcamp’s FinTech Accelerator
In and out frequently, he steadily evolved his role by offering the wealth and breadth of experience of a life-time’s work in a top bank. With regular reviews, he was clarifying progress and problems, acting as a sounding board, offering experienced insights, and marshalling help. His team succeeded in raising the funds they were seeking; and they gave him a great accolade.

Having recently retired from the bank, he was looking to fill his calendar, to escape the City, to keep up to date and to have a bit of fun; and for a team with a cool idea, and with people who were intellectually interesting, and with whom he felt he would like to work. He thought that they were looking for someone who would provide them with connections and who had as much excitement about their idea as they had.

There are so many tasks and so much to take in, all competing for the attention of the entrepreneurs in the very early days of an Accelerator, that it is evidently difficult to determine your focus. One result is that what the mentoring can offer and how to make use of it get less attention than they might. He felt that it would be useful if there was a data base from which you could learn about the specific skills of mentors and the nature of their contacts [as well perhaps as their availability and degree of commitment; and commendations.]

In the Beauty Pageant, when at the beginning of the 13 weeks small groups of potential mentors met with each of the teams on a rotating basis over two days, he and the team which he ultimately mentored had each quickly identified and singled out the other: ‘it was a matter of personalities’ And the relationship simply grew from there – ‘swanning into a formal programme’. There had been no discussions of expectations between him and this team.

‘You could tell from the questions and answers where there was informal interest.’ You could tell, he said ‘who wants to play’, who is passionate, who knows their stuff and can articulate it by means of how people ask and answer, as you can who has a sense of humility [as willing to listen and learn].

Accustomed as he was to a pattern of working in which Friday was review day, they had evolved a way of using a video link by which to publish major documents [and commentaries], circulated to everyone including Directors and existing investors, from which everyone could keep completely up-to-date with situations.

He saw himself as facilitating, making things happen and in getting politics out of the way. He was in and out frequently – working with them to reflect on each situation, to clarify their plans, their options and their decisions and to maintain a road map and timetable of where they should be and when over the 13-week period of the Accelerator – always listening, acting as a sounding board, offering comments, and helping the team to make use of the resources available (- other participants in the Accelerator, entrepreneurs in the adjacent incubator, and his own contacts).

He was impressed at the quality of the original idea behind the business. Over the course of thirty years in banking, ‘I have seen plenty of stuff – people, management and businesses’, he said. He was also deeply impressed at the confidence and competence of the members of this young team; and proud of their successes. He commented on the change in working together brought about by the Accelerator’s lay-out, which located all the members of each team together around a table and adjacent to all the other teams.

He had attended a Mentor Day, when a small number of mentors had met together for discussions at a mid-point in the programme, which he had used to satisfy himself that his own work as a mentor was not biased in some way; that he was not missing something; and in order to meet and hear from other mentors.

He commented on his contribution to one situation where there was no Plan B; and to another critical situation where progress had become seriously slow, where he had contributed to working out solutions. By way of example, we discussed the team’s Demo Day presentation (each team’s presentation to potential investors was repeated several times, each time to new audiences) where he had contributed to its organisation, and to its logic, sequence and structure. And he had sought to use the questions people raised to help identify gaps in the presentation.

He had felt that both at Selection Day (when the candidates for inclusion in the Accelerator were reduced from twenty to the ultimate ten) and at Demo Day, and maybe on other similar occasions, that the large number of participants (there were nominally over 200 mentors and there were other hangers-on) had ‘dumbed down the process’: fewer people, he felt, would have enabled the presentation to be more targeted.

He was evidently pleased that the experience had enabled him to learn something, to give back, and to give value; and that he had enjoyed it so much. He observed that every mentoring situation was different; and commented that ‘mentoring improves your mentoring’. And the best thing of all (and completely unexpected) was that they had asked him to become Chairman.

January 2015

Open Innovation’s innovations

Aside

Open Innovation’s innovations
Corporates are articulating their needs and opportunities for innovation; and using intermediaries to search for innovators with ideas, and to provide candidates with a period of intensive development.

Innovation has been the top priority for corporates and their CEOs for a year or two now, but it has proved tough to deliver. Searching the firmament for young stars that might support life while one’s colleagues get on with the existing business is a lonely task. So Scanning the periphery requires altogether different tools and the mindset of an enthusiastic poly-math. Revolutionising an established business is a rare feat.

For at least the last decade, the rapid evolution of enabling technologies has provided competition with a new source of opportunities. Now the nature of innovation has produced another stimulus to technological competition. ‘Disruptive’ innovations threaten not only to outdate single organisations (eg Kodak) but to reshape entire industries (eg publishing).

So organisations are now looking for their new products and services, processes and business models across the entire spectrum of technologies; and their research and developments functions are turning into search and deploy functions, whose task is to scout for new technologies that might serve the functions and customers of the business in entirely new and different ways – before their competitors do so for them.

The knack is of course not only to identify some new invention that might lead to marketable new products or services etc, but also to be able to develop it rapidly into a useable or commercialisable form and bring it to market or into use. These distinct aspects of the open innovation movement can be seen in the more systematic and extensive use of scouting for interesting ideas; and in the use of periods of intensive development for potential candidates.

Several organisations have adopted the approach of articulating their needs and opportunities for innovation, and inviting interest from entrepreneurial talent. A consortium of corporates in the Food and Drink Industry assembled a shopping list of areas in which innovative ideas were sought, and then ran a day with the Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing to which interested parties were invited for discussions. BAe has run a similar day under the auspices of the KTN; and Philips (with techUK) has just invited interest from people and organisations with potentially innovative products or ideas in the areas which they have identified as among their needs and opportunities for innovation.

FinTech Lab London was sponsored by a group of banks whose interest was in developing possible new products by participating in an Accelerator (with Accenture) – in which carefully selected small business were brought together for 13 weeks of intensive development and introduction to relevant people in the banks – a model that other clusters will undoubtedly follow. Startupbootcamp has recently run a similar Accelerator in London under the Fintech banner – for SMEs with IT products that might be of interest to financial institutions. Other examples include Traveltech, Wayra Lab (Telefonica) which runs a continuous programme of Accelerators – each of 16 weeks, John Lewis, and Barclays Bank. (As short periods of high intensity, Accelerators have an application process that is open to all, but is usually competitive; they provide pre-seed (subsistence) funding; they focus on small teams, not on individual founders; they provide fulsome support, with intensive mentoring; and work with cohorts or classes rather than single businesses; all in exchange for equity.)

BioCity’s latest initiative in Nottingham combines a search process with a development programme, and we will probably see other clusters, and perhaps other organisations following this route in the near future, and looking to established intermediaries, perhaps local organisations working in partnership with local incubators (franchised by Techstars or Startupbootcamp?), to help them organise their searches.

John Whatmore
January 2015