How is our innovation ecosystem for Clean growth in the UK?

How is our innovation ecosystem for Clean growth in the UK?

Arriving in London on the train recently for an event, a chap next to me said “have a good day”, that made me stop and think for two reasons; Firstly, how many journeys you take where we all seem so wrapped up in our own worlds and don’t get chance to just talk and make a connection with someone new, perhaps that’s just me? But then, secondly just how important it was to think about that “having a good day” point. I knew on the day I would have a good one as I was meeting up with a number of innovative companies in the clean growth space and a number of good conversations would follow, which indeed they did.

So, as I book my travel and accommodation to All-Energy 2019 I’m in the same zone, excited about what exciting new conversations will unfold over the two days of Glasgow buzz around clean growth innovations. Then I raised a question with myself, “How would you rate the UK’s innovation ecosystem in the clean growth sector?”, What is working, what is missing, could we be doing so much better if we pull together activities and programmes across the UK?

This is what I’ll be tasking myself as I head around the conference and exhibition for the two days. After all, what are these events all about? They’re about doing business, but in the innovation context that can mean so many things…… raising your profile with the industry to find your first customer trials, networking, looking for private investment to grow your team and scale up to commercialise, test out new ideas, find new partners, and really importantly stepping from back from working “in” your business to work “on” your business (Thanks Nigel!). Another thing to think about in the context of are we doing enough, is to think about your network and how you can help to connect others, so being at an event such as All-Energy is all about active listening and acting, as well as selling or buying.

At Innovate UK our mantra is that we connect and fund business-led innovation. You hear about funding a lot of the time through new competitions but what do we do that helps you connect as a business, and how can you help us to support the ecosystem of innovation?

Well we’re certainly thinking about all of this and have some exciting sessions and activities planned throughout the two days. We’re showcasing 17 companies who have been handpicked from our cohorts of projects through our innovation showcase, companies have 4 minutes to pitch including letting you know about their ask.

This year at All-Energy, 4 Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas have come together to make the exhibition stand. These include the Faraday Battery challenge, Robotics for a safer environment, Transforming Construction and Prospering from the Energy Revolution. Come along and hear more about some of the innovations helping to solve those challenges as well as through a number of challenge focussed workshops within the conference proceedings. We will also delve deeper into delivering successful demonstrators in the Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme through an invitation-only investor breakfast briefing.

Innovation is so much more than having a great idea. Innovation for me is the process of taking an idea to the marketplace and in the clean growth context selling that new product, process or service to make a positive impact on the environment and society. The process of innovation can be complex and to my earlier point requires you to look outside your business to make connections and work “on” your business.

A great way to think outside your business is to link up with our Knowledge Transfer Network, you can hear about the great work they are doing through their Innovation Exchange workshop on the afternoon of Day 1.

Straight after this but with a change of room, I’d also recommend you open your mind to thinking about and actioning Guy Pattison (Stronger Stories) and Jon Cards (Guardian Business Journalist) key tips for telling better innovation stories. A real must-have toolkit for entrepreneurial CEOs and teams to be able to tell their stories succinctly, bringing it to life for investors, end users, buyers, and people who will write about you. For me this really starts to get to the nub of why perhaps we are not as successful as UK innovators in the scaling-up journey as our US counterparts, we’re perhaps too reserved, too “techie” and if we don’t have a story, many would argue we don’t have a strategy, so please do give this 75 minutes of your time, hoping it will be inspiring, informative, and even transformative.

Exhausted yet? You will be with all that going on, but it’s a good thing.  Clean growth Innovation is out there and strong, people care, and people also care about wanting to help those innovators succeed.

So to answer my own question – well I’m not there yet, although I believe we are there in parts but need to be better at perhaps bringing it all together (hopefully I can build on this in a future blog). I’m hoping to investigate more at the conference so please do come and talk to me or one of the team over the course of the two days. I’m Christian Inglis, and I lead our growth and scale programme for our Clean Growth and Infrastructure team at Innovate UK.

@chringlis

We hope you can join Christian at All-Energy, register for your free entry badge here.

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