NESTA Connect to be spun off

Just heard from NESTA Connect’s head honcho Roland Harwood that they are going to be spun off. I’d been in touch about their Open for Business Conference and judging by the comments on their blog it seems like I was not the only one scratching my head as to why taxpayers money is being spent ‘educating’ senior managers from large private firms more than capable of doing this for themselves? Having worked with them I have to say that their funding decisions seem whimsical in general, and more than a little perplexing as far as their corporate innovation programme is concerned … and I’m not the only one to think this.

As mentioned on their blog comments, I can’t help thinking that Roland’s response was a little disingenuous as it doesn’t really answer the question about large corporations being more than capable of spending their own money rather than the tax payers, and as such it should be NESTA’s job to persuade them to do so.

They say that the majority of their investment is on SMEs and public/3rd sector organisations, but a little transparency as to what has been spent where and more importantly why would helpo avoid their funding decisions looking so whimsical.

I also think it would be great to see some case studies on some of the projects they’ve invested in, particularly those failures that have seemingly been swept under the carpet, e.g. RSA Networks, Swarmtribes, etc. This is important because arguably more is learned from mistakes than the happy accidents that may occur after having thrown a lot of smelly mucky stuff at a wall and then going yay hooray when some of it actually sticks.

Now that Roland has confirmed rumours that NESTA Connect being spun off, then Roland’s response looks even more disingenuous, because there’s a big difference between acting as a facilitator between the SME Davids and Multi-national Goliaths, and simply tugging on the coat tails of a public body to set-up what is in effect a competitor to Innovation consultancies that haven’t had the benefit of public funds. Is that why we haven’t seen so many case studies floating around, particularly those that don’t show the expertise they are about to unleash on the open market in an unfavourable light?


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