Monthly Archives: July 2006

Innovative start-ups need networks & expertise more than capital

In the lexicon of headlines, this is a low for journalists, bloggers and me personally.

And yes I’m on holiday, but this just came through, and I thought it was worth posting. It’s a press release from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts in the UK).

It’s so hot I’m posting it on the stroke of midnight (with aforesaid clunky headline), just as the press release embargo ends but a nanosecond before the carriage turns into a pumpkin 😉

Their headline is equally un-zingy in its literalness.

“Business support vital to bridging “equity gap”, says NESTA chief executive”

But hark at the content:

“The UK’s innovative start-ups require greater assistance in becoming “investment-ready”, NESTA chief executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum said today. Speaking in response to a new Library House report into the “equity gap” in the UK innovation economy, Kestenbaum commented:

“The debate around the so-called “equity gap” has raged for sometime and is likely to continue to do so. However, more importantly, this report points to the emerging consensus of an “investor-readiness gap”, especially for innovative start-up businesses. These enterprises often lack the business acumen and sense of the market to effectively commercialise their concepts and the crucial issue is therefore not one of the equity availability but of accessing equity.”

“Access to capital is only one of the critical ingredients required for embryonic businesses. Access to networks, mentors, role models and expertise is often more important than capital.”

I think Mr Kestenbaum might be onto something… he should come to the next Beers & Innovation on 14th September.

In case you’re none the wiser about NESTA, they are:

“working to increase the UK’s capacity for innovation, investing in all stages of the innovation process, backing new ideas and funding new ventures that stimulate entrepreneurship. It is the largest single source of early stage financing in the UK, and combines this investment with the provision of high quality mentoring and networking support for innovative business start-ups.”

And FYI, NESTA are currently reviewing their strategy.

Now, where’s that carriage?

[8th December update: NESTA have relaunched their website and the Innovation Gap report published in October 2006 can be downloaded from here]

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Off the radar

I’m off on holiday until the 14th August.

So I’m switching off the comments until I get back, when normal service will resume.

If you’re busting to get any events ideas through to me (see previous post) you can let me know then or email me anytime on deirdre.molloy (AT) nmk.co.uk.

Thanks!

On the radar

I’m not too big on anniversaries but I like birthdays so today is special.

On this day one year ago a post by Tom Coates about UK start-up culture caught my eye – and that of a few other folks. An awful lot of people wanted to scratch this itch.

The next day, among the huge volume of comments pouring into Tom’s blog, came James Governor‘s suggestion:

“Tom – any interest in getting a beers and innovation evening together? we could talk about the issue you raise. perhaps it would be a bit first tuesday, but without face to face nothing gets done”

This got some support in the comments, but two months later nothing had happened, which made me… fidgety.

I thought – if there’s such a thirst for discussion around this issue and something along those lines was in order why not just get it going and see what happened? So I got in touch with Tom and he kindly gave it his support.

Community vibes

And eventually, after a little hiccup in November, we kicked off on on 9th February with Tom, Saul Klein from Skype and Matt Ogle from Last.fm chatting about their experiences and UK start-up culture compared to the States (and elsewhere) in the basement of a Charing Cross bar. Coming up from under the radar as it were.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has since come along to the Beers & Innovation series, shared their ideas, enjoyed themselves, commented or found something interesting here, or just sent me messages by carrier pidgeon 🙂

And thanks to the WordPress team who are just generally fab and who’s spam filter software is phenomenally efficient for a free service.

Ideas for the future?

Hopefully as a community that shares expertise and ideas, we can give people a chance to make connections and to reflect usefully and fruitfully on the issues. And hopefully, we can make a difference and help move things forward….

But forward to what? I’ve got a few thoughts darting about but what I really want is to hear from you. Got any suggestions about future events or what we should be doing? If you prefer not to comment here, email me on deirdre.molloy (AT) nmk.co.uk

Cheers!

Soho calling

In the heatwave miasma engulfing me I forgot to mention that yesterday we confirmed the venue for Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers.

Yep, we’re back in the Soho environs of the Pitcher & Piano upstairs bar, Dean Street on Thursday 14th September.

Speakerwise we’ve got Richard Edwards, co-founder of MyZebra and Webkitchen founder and Deeptag architect Peter Nixey.

NMA editor (not to be confused with NMK – pesky acronyms) Michael Nutley will be chairing the discussion.

It’s the first time we’re featuring start-ups only, which is quite exciting.

The full details are here.

So you’ve got the co-ordinates. And with over 20 delegates already registered and the event still 7 weeks away, now you just need to book.

The following Beers & Innovation in October will be announced very soon. It’s gonna be a busy autumn…

UGTV blocking up your tubes!

I went to a pretty interesting event last night on user-generated televison.

And UGTV’06 – as they dubbed it – passed muster, with good speakers from MTV and Trouble, a healthily diverse audience (ie. all the confusion and clashing perspectives around this area were readily apparent as soon as the audience got their say). Most importantly the venue was properly air-conditioned (phew!).

More on that later, and on how the EU TV Without Frontiers directive, which I quizzed the broadcasters about, might impact the UGTV space.

Divide and regulate

There’s another thing broadcasters getting into webcasting, online distribution and UGTV might like to bear in mind: the root of what I’m fixated on today – the multiplying clips and remixes around Senator Ted Stevens’ net neutrality speech on YouTube.

Hmm. Net Neutrality and TV Without Frontiers – two sides of the same coin? Well, as Bill Thompson pointed out at the NMK Xmas lecture way back in 2002(!) they’re our governments, so if you agree, disagree, or have any advice, tell ’em.

In us we trust?

Here in Britain we muddle along with consensus; debate is seen as faintly embarrassing. But bizzarely enough we’re one of only two EU states (the other being Slovakia) currently opposing the new regulatory powers on the internet this EU directive would pressage. So it’s not all passive acquiescence …

Given that this weather is far too hot for fragile Celts like me, and prevents me from forming any sensible conclusions on serious subjects, I’ll sign-off with another YouTube classic (via Sam): George Bush Sings U2.

Mothership downtime & Content 2.0 podcast update

Okay, it’s not really the mothership technically speaking, but the NMK website will be taking a breather this weekend, starting anytime now.

This is simply due to need for the University Of Westminster to power down all their servers (including ours) this weekend for essential maintenance.

So what? Well you may ask. For starters there’s a lot of links on this blog to the NMK site that will be temporarily dead. Including that which takes you to the booking page for Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers on 14th September.

iTunes back in the frame (ish)

Secondly, podcast junkies who still haven’t downloaded the Content 2.0 podcasts might be sweating it a bit when they find an Error 404. Yikes! Can’t have that can we. So here’s the links direct to the Archive.org, Feedburner and iTunes pages.

The iTunes situ has been resolved as much as it can be, although you may only see the four most recent files (out of a conference total of eight) on iTunes. Don’t ask me – ask iTunes why they do this. I know – it’s pointless asking them anything.

All things going to plan, the NMK site will be back up sometime on Monday 17th July.

UK widgetsphere pioneers

Whoah, this one slipped in under the radar! Two UK web entrepreneur veterans legends have recently tied the knot and are cooking up something that (could be) quite spectacular.

On 6th July 2006 Steve Bowbrick and Ivan Pope publicly announced that Steve was joining the good ship Snipperoo – a Brighton-based start-up aiming to revolutionise the overly-technical process of adding widgets to your blog.

Nothing less than the democratization of widgets is their goal, with their rallying call to the masses “we don’t want no stinkin code'”. 🙂

Steve set out their manifesto:

“Never again will you have to cut-and-paste a line (or a paragraph or a page…) of scary-looking code into your blog’s HTML just to add a simple function like a weather ticker or links to your flickr pics or your diary.”

Mainstreaming of widgets

Well, I can see the appeal of this, especially as it applies to me (note lack of widgets in sidebar – it’s perfectly normal you see 😉 ).

Ivan and Snipperoo colleague Jay Gooby were over spreading their meme in Amsterdam the next day at the inaugural Next Web conference – which also featured real elevator pitches (yep, in an elevator) which have been vlogged.

Web heroes come full circle?

For folks too young or dumb to remember the UK Web 1.0 scene: Steve was the founder of pioneering web design firm Webmedia (the UK’s first such business) and the boom era UK email service another.com.

Ivan set up the groundbreaking World Wide Web newsletter in 1993 then sold it to Future Publishing, where he launched .Net magazine (to which I contributed features 1995-97 – ah, nostalgia). He then set up a web design business in 1995 and spun Net Names out of it in 1997. Ivan is also an accomplished artist. And, he was a guest contributor at Content 2.0 last month.

Steve was also the very discerning chair of a half day conference I organised for NMK in June 2005 – Blogging: A Real Conversation – featuring the Observer’s Rafael Behr, Adriana Cronin, Johnnie Moore, and Suw Charman among others…

Brighton, Europe

The Snipperoo team is now four-strong – and they’re looking for offices in Brighton. Get in touch with them if you have any recommendations for where Snipperoo can rest its hat.

As to who coined the term “widgetsphere” – well Ivan did, on 16th June, however he rightly points to others in this “strangely European” new field. In turn, his coinage was mirrored just one day previously by Irishman Fergus Burns with his identification of “widget marketing”.

Watch that space.