If you want a AAC file recorded from this event, grab it here (14MB, 30 minutes).
The guts of this is about developing support for Industry-led Innovation Communities. Something like @digitalcircle is trying to do.
1. Establishment of a Government Innovation Gateway.
In essence a portal to help local Industry Led Innovation Communities (IICs). It has the potential to reduce Red Tape. This is key to some of the IREP recommendations on simplifying the offerings. It’s going to be another website.
2. Developing Support Mechanisms to IICs.
Mentions fast-tracking support for R&D&I and a programme of dispersal of risk. Without any detail at the moment and probably sensitive at the moment post-IREP.
Collaborative Networks Programme
Nothing mentioned about Digital Media and Software.
3. Enhanced Role for Further Education Sector in IICs
Involvement of FE in IICs to be encouraged. I’d go a step further and say it should be mandated – not as a pressure on the IIC, but as a deliberate instruction for the college. Colleges should be mandated to get involved. At the moment Innovation Vouchers are the answer here but there’s not enough College involvement for my liking.
4. New approach to public procurement to encourage innovation in Northern Ireland Industry
More focus on Pre-Commercial Procurement and development of market opportunities in the local market. This may go somewhat towards fixing the issue of our taxpayer money being spent on large company services outside NI when perfectly good small companies inside NI exist – just hampered by the red tape.
End of the day, this sets out a 2-3 year plan. This is not going to be quick or easy. Tragedy is that this stuff needed “several months of cross-Departmental collaboration” and represents “a true focus by all Departments”. An “Inter-Departmental Group of senior officials was established” to produce this response..
MATRIX was formed in February 2007. So, we’re nearly 3 years into it already. It’s designed to be focussing on improving the state of the economy in tech and science for the region. It’s meant to be giving Northern Ireland the “edge” in industry – turning the region into a successful high-tech economy. The Minister re-iterated that our competition is not between Belfast and Derry, or Belfast and Armagh or Armagh and Derry – but against other economic regions. It’s designed to help reward collaboration between industry and education. Implementation is already underway – but who are the implementors?
The Innovation Community spotlighted was the Global Wind Alliance. It’s not clear if they’re meant to be a n example to follow – because they were in place before this new strategy
I’d suggest that more needs to be done to encourage blue-sky work. We see very little of it in local businesses and yet the Universities are criticised for doing too much blue-sky (non-industry-focussed) research. We need to be doing more to bring these guys together. The blue-sky vision of academics tempered into keen opportunity by enthused entrepreneurs. Do we need 3 years to put that in place?