Can startup Britain make a successful exit? by Andrew Walker

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — For an entrepreneur watching Brexit from California, it’s hard not to notice a familiar pattern. In Silicon Valley, startups famously follow the so-called Transition Curve, cycling from “uninformed optimism” to “informed pessimism,” followed by a “crisis of meaning,” and then, almost inevitably: “crash and burn.”

After growing up in a small Scottish town, then getting my start with semiconductors in the Netherlands, I have lived in Silicon Valley for nearly 25 years. What I’m seeing in my homeland looks like nothing more than the emotional rollercoaster that most entrepreneurs experience while trying to realize their vision of a startup.

The question, of course, for the United Kingdom is simple. Will Brexit end up like so many Silicon Valley dreams, in disappointment and failure? Or does it have a chance of reaching the elusive alternate ending: “informed optimism,” a pivot to a more modest venture that, while far from the original vision, is nonetheless sustainable, comfortable and — most of all — realistic?

Here’s how Brexit is following Silicon Valley’s Transition Curve.

The full article can be viewed at

and the German version at


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Athens is the winner of this year’s European Capital of Innovation Awards, funded by Horizon 2020. The result was announced at the Web Summit in Lisbon at the beginning of November. The runner-up cities – Aarhus (Denmark), Hamburg (Germany), Leuven (Belgium), Toulouse (France), and Umeå (Sweden) – received €100,000 each. The prize money will be used to scale up local innovation activities and collaborate with other cities.

The City of Athens has placed a lot of importance on innovation and how it can help the local community bring about change and open up to the world. Some of the winning city’s innovations include:

  • The POLIS project aimed at revitalising abandoned buildings by providing small grants to residents, small enterprises, creative communities and other civil society groups and bring life to all corners of Athens.
  • The renovation of the Kypseli Public Market, a 90-year old historical building with active support of Athens’ citizens aims to create a new social entrepreneurship market hosting exhibitions, workshops, theatre shows and other initiatives.
  • Making Serafeio, a popular community playground, a host of initiatives like Athens Digital Lab, Open Schools or Athens Culture Net, and a novel events space, following a joint decision by the municipality and the local community.
  • The Curing the Limbo initiative, which gives refugees and migrants the possibility to connect with other residents in order to learn the language, develop new skills, find employment opportunities, and engage in active citizenship.
  • The Digital Council, in which the city brought together companies and educational institutions to offer training on digital literacy and civic technology training as well as promote sustainable innovations like smart recycling bins.
  • ‘This is Athens’ campaign where the city invites volunteers to talk about the city’s present and past to some of the record 5 million tourists that visited Athens in 2017.

This year’s European Capital of Innovation contest was launched in February 2018 and opened to cities with over 100 000 inhabitants from EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020. Twenty-six cities from sixteen countries applied. The selection of the winner and the five runner-up cities was made by a high-level independent jury of experts from local administrations, universities, businesses and the non-profit sector. The award criteria – experimenting, engaging, expanding, empowering – analyse how cities use innovation and new technologies to respond to societal challenges, engage broad local communities in their decision-making processes and improve lives of their citizens.

The competition first took place in 2014. Past winners include Barcelona (2014), Amsterdam (2016) and Paris (2017).  The next edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards is planned to be launched in the first quarter of 2019.

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Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation was presented with The Lisbon Declaration, a set of 10 policy ideas for how the EU can promote social innovation, on 6 November at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon. Prepared by the Social Innovation Community (project funded under H2020) and entitled Social Innovation as a Path to a Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Europe, the Declaration sets out three principles, five priorities and 10 practical ideas that outline how the EU can build on the world-leading practices it has established over the last decade to make social innovation a core part of its strategy in the 2021-2027 period.

According to Moedas, ‘Innovation today is about purpose, about doing something that can fulfil you as a human being. In the European Union, we are going to put more money into social innovation, not because it’s trendy, but because we believe that the future of innovation is about social innovation.’

The five priorities identified by the Social Innovation Community which Europe should address include:

  1. Making funding suitable for small-scale experimentation, spreading and scaling impact
  2. Enabling citizens and civil society to lead local change initiatives through community-led innovation
  3. Strengthening the capacity, skills and incentives for public officials and policymakers to support and draw on (citizen-led) social innovation
  4. Making public procurement an instrument of social innovation policy
  5. Prioritising the spreading of social innovation to regions where it is needed most

Tackling these priorities requires action by Member States and regions, primarily, and by the EU in accordance with the subsidiarity principle. In this Declaration, the Social Innovation Community offers 10 policy recommendations to support social innovation for a fairer, more resilient and inclusive Europe in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027:

A. Make social innovation a cross-cutting priority in all EU policies and programmes, by

  1. Creating a cross-service European Social Innovation Action Plan
  2. Using the EU Multiannual Financial Framework budget and its key instruments to
    create longer-term investment and strategic support for social innovation across all
    EU policies and instruments
  3. Creating a new European Observatory of Social Innovation Policy to mainstream and
    monitor the performance of cross-cutting social innovation policy approaches to help to achieve a “social triple A” for Europe
  4. Helping develop the evidence ecosystem for social innovation in Europe by
    establishing a pan-European network of evidence centres focusing on ‘what works’ in
    tackling social challenges

B. Use strategic partnerships between EU, national and regional authorities to unleash the power of communities to drive change, including smaller organisations, by

5. Launching a Europe-wide initiative to expand the number of regional social
innovation support organisations by 2027
6. Designing a package of support instruments to enable the creation of locally                       controlled asset-based community bodies in all European Member States by 2027
7. Establishing Social Innovation “Diogo Vasconcelos” Fellowships for people
developing local change initiatives
8. Setting up a strategic initiative to better enable smaller socially focused
organisations, enterprises and facilitators to access EU funding

C.  Foster social innovation in the public sector, by

9.   Embedding social innovation actors in governments and public-sector bodies                     through a new “Innovate4Europe” initiative
10. Establishing ‘Public Procurement Pathfinders’ to connect government agencies with
social innovation actors (including civic start-ups, social innovation-focused SMEs            or social economy players).

The full declaration can be read at



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After 25 years working for the Danish Technological Institute, Henning Sejer Jakobsen will start a new professional challenge from 1 January 2019 when he takes up a new position at Aarhus University, Department of Engineering: Henning is well-known in TII training circles, and in particular the TII Summer Schools, where he has featured regularly as a trainer on the Art of Negotiation and initiated participants to the skills necessary for negotiating a licensing deal.

The Department of Engineering is a rather new area of Aarhus University, but it has the ambition to become a world leader in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship. Henning will be involved in the department’s mission to:

  • Create a world class education in innovation and entrepreneurship for students and researchers
  • Establish innovation between researchers, companies and students
  • Create a new way to make entrepreneurship and technology transfer!
  • Establish an incubator with FabLab, Makerspace and Science lab to make “innovation happen”
  • Participate in national and international projects
  • Develop CIS to become the practical way to conduct radical, disruptive and open innovation
  • Build an organization to handle all this.

He looks forward to building new collaborative projects with international colleagues and alumni from the TII nework. In the intervening period, Henning will be busy working at his  own invention and development company Invencis and his micro-brewery Humleporten. He can be contacted at


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A new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™

Is it time to “Re-Question”?

Despite the Chief Scientist saying that nothing we do in Australia will make a scrap of difference to the world’s climate, whether you like it or not, coal, or in fact anything that is combustible, seems to be off the agenda for electrical power generation.

So what should we do?

Household solar panels are still very inefficient but sometime in the future they are sure to be much better, so too will be household batteries that are needed to make solar a real viable alternative.

In the short term, without subsidies solar still has a long way to go and no real solution has yet been suggested for the disposal and recycling of batteries. The fact is, the science is not yet there.

Wind and vast solar arrays are an alternative but in the absence of a storage facility they too are questionable unless we can build huge dams as batteries, but that too seems unlikely.

As we ponder this it seems the thinking is that science in the long run will provide answers with improved batteries, better solar panels and improved power management. Whilst we look to science for renewable answers perhaps it may be time to reconsider nuclear power?

The safety of nuclear plants has always considered to be a problem, so too the disposal of waste, but with an estimated 500 nuclear plants in the world today, accidents have been few. Indeed the most tragic of man-made accidents was the terrible catastrophe in the Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India in 1984. The death toll was reported to be as high as 16 000 souls. This was a pesticide facility, yet despite that there has been no push to ban pesticide manufacture, so why nuclear?

The answer is probably because of waste disposal, but let us again look to science.

Space travel is almost upon us as a “bucket list” item of many of the rich and famous, but you can be sure that within the next 50 years, the typical lifetime of a nuclear reactor, space travel will be as common as a domestic flight. Science will see to that. If indeed this is the case, can’t we simply blast our nuclear waste into space to ultimately be burned up by the big nuclear furnace in the sky, the sun?

Yes, science does have answers and perhaps it will ultimately have the answer for nuclear waste. Innovation at its best.

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TusPark, the science park body of Tsinghua University in China is investing £200 million (€260 million) in the construction of a number of major new buildings at Cambridge Science Park, in collaboration with Mace Group. Founded 48 years ago, Cambridge University Science Park is home to over 100 cuttting-edge technology businesses from around the world. Tus-Holdings runs more than 30 science parks and incubators in China and Hong Kong, making it one of the biggest innovation networks in the world.

The 700,000 m² commercial development in Cambridge, which is expected to become the headquarters or research and development centre for a technology company, was approved earlier this year by South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council. The development arm of Mace acquired a long leasehold from Trinity College, the park’s owner, for the building, which could be completed in 2020.

TusPark’s investment has paid for the delivery of the new Frontier Developments’ HQ, in addition to funding the creation of the park’s first Bio-Innovation Centre and the R&D centre. At the recent topping-out ceremony of the Bio-Innovation Centre, Prof Yan Wan, vice-chairman of the Tsinghua University Council, said: “We would like to serve as a bridge for China and the UK for experts to communicate with each other. This is one of our missions.” According to Jiwu Wang, chairman of Tus-Holdings, Tus was keen to help Cambridge companies access the Chinese market, to find partners, investors or manufacturers and thereby add enormous value to the Cambridge region.

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The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a virtual one-stop shop for researchers to share, access and reuse data, was officially launched at the University of Vienna on 23 November, giving scientists, open data advocates, research institutions and policymakers a first glimpse of the portal.

It is part of the EU’s vision for an open-border, cross-disciplinary, digital future for science. In a video message to mark the launch, Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, compared the EOSC to 16th-century English coffeehouses where the coming together of people of different backgrounds sparked new ideas. The portal, which has been two years in the making, joins up existing infrastructures under one umbrella platform. It is intended to free up time for more research, crucially link up data across disciplines and change the culture of research and science.

The idea of the EOSC, which can be viewed at, is to make publicly funded research data open for anyone to investigate and use. The portal launched in Vienna will now undergo further refinement as scientists begin to use the system before it is fully launched in 2020. Up till now there was no tool which allowed the 1.7 million active researchers in Europe to share and reuse data across member states, institutions and disciplines.

One scientist spoke enthusiastically of being able to access data and understand it within days as opposed to years. No doubt the new platform will require some adjustments to make it more user-friendly and gain widespread acceptance by the European research community, but the ambition is that EOSC becomes a standard for sharing research data just like WhatsApp is for exchanging messages.

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