Category Archives: Government Support / Policy

BBC Backstage Xmas bash booking up fast

If you don’t know already, BBC Backstage are holding their Xmas party in collaboration with a lot of other digital media and technology networks…

Including MoMoLondon, London Girl Geek Dinners, Geek Dinners, Swedish Beers, London 2.0, Open Rights Group, London Perlmongers, London Webstandards Group, London Ruby User Group, and London SEO.

It’s on Saturday 9th December at The Cuban.

Bookings opened this morning and as of 8pm this evening there were upwards of 270 registrations already. The limit on numbers is about 400, so it’s bound to be maxed-out soon.

You can get the details and register here, and see who else is going here.

Congrats to Ian Forrester and BBC Backstage for fostering the first real-life aggregation of London’s networks. It’s going to be a great party!


Jobs at NMK

My former employer NMK – based at the University of Westminster – has three roles available all at once.

They are currently seeking:

A Web Editor

A Community Manager

A Product & PR Manager

The closing date for submitting applications is 10th November 2006.

That was then, this is now…

Keeping established patterns intact, my report on the first Beers & Innovation has arrived 6 months after the fact.

The night was a great foundational event to the evolving series, as we heard from Skype‘s Saul Klein and Matt Ogle of on how their businesses had evolved, and the challenges facing UK-based tech entrepreneurs and start-ups.

As for thorny issues raised and unresolved threads left hanging, take your pick:

VCs, angels and bootstrapping….

Saul Klein:

“There’s a lot of benefits to be had from not having a lot of funding early on, and the VCs can be your best critics”

Matt Ogle said that their angel investors had similar mindsets to them so they were able to grow more organically. He also praised affiliate programmes as excellent as they had enabled’s growth.

Government support for innovation & start-ups

Saul had strong views on this point. He said the government’s role was zero. The BBC is a negative presence, he added. It takes talent out of the market and cannibalises media. The BBC creates a service industry around itself and is quite narrow.

Matt Locke, Head Of Innovation at BBC New Media disagreed. He spoke of the BBC Innovation Labs which provide “money and time to develop ideas.” Of 170 new ideas submitted, the BBC took forward 29 in the Labs.

Global or local?

Tom Coates noted that the English language makes us more permeable to US services, while Saul reckoned that

“media needs to be more local. Communications or search businesses are horizontal and can be more international”

Stuff to think about at every juncture. But that was 6 months ago. Good grief! So what, if anything, has changed?

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]

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.

New media awards with social impact

It's a relief to know that (sometimes) there's more to awards ceremonies than glitz and revenue-driven one-upmanship.

The good people who recently brought us cyberpunk legend and net activist Bruce Sterling uncut in a pub in Belgravia (with podcast) are also running an awards event which you can nominate in – but this Wednesday 31st May is the deadline for nominations!

I'm talking about the New Statesman New Media Awards, and if you're quick you could still nip in there and make a nomination.

Innovation, usability & efficiency

According to their site:

"The theme of this year's awards is The Power of Ideas – with a special emphasis on innovation, usability and efficiency. New media can have a positive effect by pushing boundaries and making information widely accessible.

"We are seeking nominations for any UK digital, web or mobile technology project that is creating positive change. It’s free to nominate and you can nominate as many projects as you like! Simply fill out our short, online nomination form."

"The New Media Awards celebrate those UK new media projects that benefit society, government or democracy."

The nominations so far are pretty interesting, but maybe you have something to add…

BBC Backstage – public media mash up

Bringing the long tail of publicly-funded content into play for others to use and build-upon for non-commercial purposes is part of the long-term rationale of the BBC's Backstage Project.

Launched in May 2005, BBC Backstage opens up BBC content for the developer network – in order to encourage innovation and support new talent. Their blog can be found here.

Tom Loosemore, Head of Strategic Innovation at BBC New Media, will be talking about the BBC Backstage project and community building more generally – and taking your questions – at the next NMK Beers & Innovation night on Thurdsay 27th April.

He may also be joined by an external developer who has created an interesting prototype by mashing-up BBC content with external content. We'll keep you updated on that front…

Tickets For Beers & Innovation 3: Web Services & Mash-Ups can be booked here.