Confronting the challenges of the day

Innovation Labs that confront major changes in the economy Initiatives in a number of sectors have created nurseries for innovations created by shifts in the economy – from presentation/discussion forums, to hackathons, to match-ups, to accelerators, to scaleup support programmes.

Airports are creating innovation hubs to protect their retail revenues (40-60% of total revenues). Their shops face online retailing; Uber and improved public transport attack car parking revenues; and the lower cost appeal of flying diminishes passengers’ spend.

Munich, Singapore’s Changi, and Aeroports de Paris are testing solutions including turning retail spaces more into showrooms, changing car parks into destination centres; and making the passenger experience more satisfying – to attract a higher spend.

The aim of their innovation hubs is to come up with a more entrepreneurial culture in which businesses will address not just revenue generation but also airport operations and passenger processes.


Generic change programmes have become increasingly common. Among the first were FinTech programmes like Startupbootcamp, which remain a hot field to-day.

Level39 in Canary Wharf was started soon afterwards, which was essentially about retail, but a host to Fintech programmes.

The Tramperies established a number of specialist nurseries each one focused on a different field, and all either alongside or in collaboration with expertise in that field.

Social enterprise (Bethnal Green Ventures its pioneer) was a recipient of an early government grant for that field).

Science’s incentives make it a reluctant host to business, but BioCity in Nottingham and BioHub at Alderley Edge have been leaders.

Less common but of great interest for their inherent focus on innovation have been nurseries in the arts: in theatre The National Theatre’s Studio , in music A venture capital company that knows its onions , in crafts An Incubator with a strong development focus and at the Royal College of Art DesignLondon, .

CivTech and GovTech nurseries have attracted interest more recently.

Accelerators in Healthcare are just now of increasing interest – a difficult field for business because of its fractious structure.

Opportunities for innovation labs that focus on particular fields are numerous; they include the railways, adjacent local authorities, area transport services, water, gas and electricity, retail and entertainment centres.

John Whatmore, November 2018


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