Innovation Edge: some live blogging from opening plenary

Am at Innovation Edge, NESTA’s big innovation event / conference at the Royal Festival Hall. Sitting in on the plenary session, so will blog a few highlights as we go. Highlights to come? Bob Geldof, Tim Berners-Lee, Gordon Brown and lots of other interesting people. Chair and chief exec of NESTA to kick us off with some opening thoughts…..

[NESTA chair] Chris Powell: key themes are that this is a growing movement, + a broader view of innovation than before…importance in global context re. problems / challenges / UK:world…

– innovation as iterative and incremental process…
– need to embed innovation / make change systemic
– relationship to government (procurement, DIUS, DCMS etc) / demand

(slightly boring this: basically stating why NESTA is needed…..)

[film interlude about innovation…which I think is meant to be funnier than it is….a few sniggers in the audience]


Jonathan Kestenbaum: (detailing progress since last event 18 months ago…seed funding, public service innovation, new tech funding, source of authority and expertise….); key point is that they have built dozens of partnerships, which have been crucial.

– NESTA has learned 3 things:

    – NESTA at best when taking risks; + importance of risk-takers
    – extraordinary power of partnerships and collaborations (innovation coming from creative combinations)
    – huge national appetite for innovative solutions + "not an elite activity"

[now going to film about NESTA’s work / stories; quite the production budget they have… ;0) lots of people saying nice things: Geoff Mulgan, David King, Richard Lambert etc…but also some neat case studies]

Final bit emphasises ‘misson-driven’ nature of NESTA, + praises staff etc. Quotes Robert Kennedy on the future belonging to those with "passion, reason and courage"…

[another film! with Andrew Marr, no less; from his modern history of Britain programme, I think] ———————————————————————————————————————————-

Now Jonathan Freedland interviewing Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Live by videolink from Bristol…unfortunately slightly out of sync.

T B-L: my boss "didn’t exactly say yes, but didn’t say no either"; importance of long leash + generalising specific solutions they have found…."give people space…don’t micromanage";

"if you tell them what you want, you’re giving them the old ideas…not enabling them to come up with new ones"

[quotes Einstein?]: "if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research"…..importance of not restricting with outcomes + measuring return on investment….

"I hope that the internet will be ‘responsible’ as it grows" alongside experimenting with "new forms of society, science, democracy etc"

[question about incivility online]: blogs, wikis etc are ‘social machines’ and are new, so people are finding their way with these new tools of interaction; views these as "growing pains"….

[question about current project: Web Science] thinking of the web as "humanity connected" rather than connections between computers / web pages….; need for ‘cognitive science’ of the web: "we have a duty to understand the web"

[question about web being fragile] As much about "will it be a force for good?"…in the realm of scientific / drug information…etc

[question about innovation : collaboration] hopes innovation will be "collective, rather than individual"; ‘common language’ gets built up between groups and teams; web can make these collaborative spaces "transparent"; need for collaboration across disciplines to solve the big problems. "That’s why I made the web" (good sentence to be able to be say!)

And break!

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2 thoughts on “Innovation Edge: some live blogging from opening plenary

  1. Hi Nick, great seeing you again at the Nesta event and my impressions of the event were in a nutshell:
    a) far too big – although well organised
    b) Bob Geldof – yay!!!!!
    c) Tim Berners-Lee – good
    d) Most other presentations – ok (bit long)
    e) Far too little learning from each other and discussions

  2. Thanks Dave – you’ll see from my two posts that I largely agree. Bob Geldof was the undoubted highlight….I liked Berners-Lee….the rest of the content I could give or take, and, like you, I wanted more interactivity / discussions. Networking was good….but too short (the wine ran out very quickly!). Hey ho…till the next time.