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Baker Botts & KPMG Open the Health Tech Collaboration Door …

Excellent and thought provoking London meeting near Bank yesterday, many thanks to both Baker Botts for hosting us and KPMG / UCL for the IP on show.

Working with startups as I do, and from a “growth hack” perspective, it’s highly important to be very clear about the problems needing tackling before thinking about solutions.

As an NHS fan and tax payer, it was upsetting to see one slide yesterday from Dr Vincent showing some fairly rudimentary problems:

* Poor password control and management
* Inability to connect with local networks
* Disabled technology functions

Dr Christopher also talked about building a solution that, at first glance, seems to be a methodology for dealing with the generic development and operational scenario. As we know, complex environments subject to rapid change are hard to respond to and exist in.

The reason for the methodological approach, I suspect, again as Dr Christopher adroitly showed, was the plethora of various US and EU regulations being drawn up which the NHS seems compelled to adopt en-bloc and then slavishly adhere to piece by piece.

Is that really the case? Or can we challenge some of the approaches being taken?

It would also have been interesting to discuss the following, perhaps a future KPMG agenda, being either in the media or implicit in the above problems:

* Massive training overheads for NHS staff, likely to worsen under EU / US regulation

* False references: huge patient impacts on both “life assurance” and “data security”

* Poor quality management, allowing poor operational practice and poor staff training

* Emerging and extant access solutions: one password access, fingerprinting, face recognition

* How Big Data is beginning to offer solutions to eg Education & Training and Regulatory

* Access & “triage” queues in both GP surgeries and A&E

Going back to my growth hacker communities, I would suggest the following Health Tech Hacker projects and solutions would have some validity and viability, given superior engineering design, some true “out of the box” thinking and then especially excellence in business infrastructure building and service delivery:

* Adopting WiFi access from private hospital implementations eg Clementine Churchill, Harrow

* Big Data projects to help NHS staff train and re-train – too many nurses “fall out” of the system

* Regulatory infrastructure Big Data projects to help produce guideline values and behaviours

* Reference checker Apps, to be more sure people are who they say, and can do what they say

* Performance Management Software – loads of these out there, can the NHS adopt and adapt?

* Fingerprinting & face recog Apps to ease access issues with NHS systems

* Self-triage Apps to “queue” onto the NHS back end – more anonymous data at first

* The extent to which financial data security could provide 80% initial solutions & learning

Why take a hacker approach? We have so often seen monolithic solutions fail attempting to fix the world. Too big to fail? More like too big to succeed.

My understanding is that the UK hacker community elite has become adept at specific solutions to specific problems, the solution infrastructure then being later absorbed into a larger existing body. In fact I’ve already suggested a queueing App to my hacker community, and there is already some interest and commitment in pursuing that as a project.

In particular, we need engineering solutions of the sort that Dr Namiluko showed are possible, building on the UK heritage of top quality but sometimes even low tech engineering solutions based on specific needs. One great example of this, I found out recently, was the Hurricane air fighter we used in the second world war.

What I’m saying here is that hacking and engineering are already in the UK DNA. But we need to rediscover and reinvigorate these elements, ideally getting some celebrity endorsements to help spread the message even further.

Be good to talk about this more, happy to chat to anyone interested.


My @Quora comment on Should “talent” be more demanding of employers?

My @Quora comment on Should "talent" be more demanding of employers?

My @Quora comment on Should "talent" be more demanding of employers? :

My @Quora comment on Should “talent” be more demanding of employers?

Should “I Can’t” customer service threaten my Virgin brand advocacy?

Question on @Quora: Should "I Can't" customer service threaten my Virgin brand advocacy?

Should "I Can't" customer service threaten my Virgin brand advocacy?

Are people who call themselves capitalists or espouse what they believe are capitalist views giving capitalism a bad name?

Answer by Peter Jones:



On their individual behaviour.

Not all capitalists are bad, but what we desperately need is greater transparency into financial institutions.

Sadly, Finance is an industry built entirely with the intention of bedazzling customers. using technical complexity and jargon. It's been the same way since the early days of coffee shop trading.

That can be helpful if you are trying to avoid a marketplace getting spooked, but unhelpful if the market place has every right to be spooked, as in the sub-prime disaster. Or the original crash, the Dutch Tulip disaster, where at peak some tulip bulbs were worth more than houses.

Many may say sub-prime isn't a disaster, but oddly (not) they are the survivors in the Financial sector. They are categorically not those who experienced the fall out and financial ruin first hand, who can now no longer afford the cost or energy involved to dispute the "victors'" winning narratives.

There is in fact an enormous opportunity for a financial institution that gets the need for consumer trust to trade this way, but again, it's an easy way of living off other's people's need to put their money somewhere.

Just looking at the banking associations and otter hangers on who also make a lucrative lifestyle off what is or at least was in fact our money.

The incentives to avoid change, and even put newcomers who challenge the status quo out of business are enormous.

Our hope is that the flame of innovation continues to be unquenchable, and that challengers to banks will come along who are equally unquenchable.

Bitcoin has just such potential.

Banks are accordingly trying every trick in the book to make the emerging sector unviable and for participants to fall off a cliff.

Yes, Bitcoin carries risks about money laundering, but so do conventional bank accounts. At least with BitCoin, the ledgers are actually open to public scrutiny, which in time may make tracking transactions somewhat easier for authorities.

Of course if you enquire into bank's defensive behaviours here, you'll find a level of smoke and mirrors that will indeed bedazzle you.



Are people who call themselves capitalists or espouse what they believe are capitalist views giving capitalism a bad name?

The FT Transformational Conference – Transforming Cities

On 12th June 2014, Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Enterprise,  was one of the panel guests attending the morning session at the FT/IPC inaugural meeting to assess Business Transformation in the UK.

This particular session wanted to look at how cities and their local businesses need to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.

Introductions – Kit’s Plans for London
During preliminary introductions, Mr Malthouse outlined the London Strategy for City Transformation in 4 parts:

1) Making London’s transport systems more effective
2) “Self-contained” households regarding energy, consumption, waste
.                Note – “Self contained” (sic) meaning self-sustaining
3) Improving collaboration with London’s social and business communities
4) Making the environment greener and cleaner

Mr Malthouse also alluded to an academic body contributing towards overall city strategy, but chose not to elaborate on the body or who was in it.

Panel Questions – Engaging Community
After the introductions, two questions from the audience were aimed at understanding how authorities get better at involving the local populous in identifying and implementing change.

One of these referred to the recent Chinese physical business park that solely focuses on idea generation and intellectual property (IP), and the questioner asked how to get passionate Brits involved from the creative ideas perspective, and tieing in to a more open agenda for change.

Guillermo Dietrich, Head of Transport, Buenos Aires
Mr Dietrich offered that it required significant education to achieve change, and the consultation process often slowed down the pace of change possible.

He also mentioned that it was hard to appease different factions within communities, and that some conflict management and horse trading was inevitable.

Summarising this component, he stated no change was possible without the assent of the populous.

Mr Dietrich also said it was important to involve the business community, in that the populous could better believe that thare was no political axe being ground, and also that changes would have a better chance at longevity and sustainability.

His final point was that population density makes a big difference in terms of being able to apply co-ordination. Very dense populations, he opined, are much harder to penetrate and make an impact.

Pedro Pires de Miranda, Corporate Vice President and Head of Global Center of Competence Cities, Siemens
Mr Pires de Miranda suggested that cities are very involved in and at the forefront of a number of global issues:

1) Net population issues – growth in the East, shrinkage in Europe
2) Ageing populations – how to provide services for changing demographics
3) Climate – how to ensure clean and healthy living environments
4) Resources – how to continue providing services with finite resources

In cities he identified two key issues for conference, being transport systems and keeping cities clean and efficient through low carbon emissions.

It was heartening to hear that there are clear visions and appreciations at a high level of the issues to be tackled. Of course, Siemens are heavily involved in city infrastructure projects, so this was doubly the case, given Mr Pires de Miranda’s role.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London
Interjecting a little, Mr Malthouse mentioned Talk London in relation to community participation, which is most often thought of as a Radio service, but is now attracting a small audience online.

Later Mr Malthouse was asked why this service had such a low profile, but he wasn’t sure why this would be.

(Ed – So come on Londoners, apparently the Talk London door is open, let’s push and see what happens.)

Mr Malthouse also mentioned the usage the GLA are making of Big Data. There are many transport Apps now helping Londoners commute across their busy lives, and crime statistics are now also helping the police with some leading edge predictive policing and helping communities monitor local crime levels and hot spots.

A Comparison with Startup Ecosystems
In 2013, Dave McClure, of US Startup incubator Startup 500, produced a great slide show explaining a startup ecosystem, and including this specific slide:

Startup Ecosystem

Primarily majoring from the more mature and established US perspective, the comparisons are interesting.

We can perhaps add two factors from a city transformation perspective: Business & Social Communities can be added to the People component, and Big Data should be added to the Product component.

Shell Pamphlet: New Lenses on Future Cities
This topic can also be viewed against a knowledge packed pamphlet from Shell, with this fascinating graphic embedded on Page 7, and many more besides:

Urban Density & Transport Related Energy

The full pamphlet can be accessed online by clicking here.

Summarising one key point, transport is a key global issue for every city, no matter the categorisation. Again, see the Shell pamphlet for more on the types of city, and some global examples.

Two Final Questions – But No Time to Discuss Virtual Meetings
Time being finite, the panel also fielded two final audience questions, which focused on the role of buses in dense urban conurbations and the need for city waste to reduce it’s carbon footprint.

Bus & Cycle Solutions
The panel were all of the opinion that both have a critical role to play in cities, and Mr Dietrich in particular noted that cycles had a significant impact within his role as Head of Transport in Buenos Aires.

All panellists agreed that bus companies are now all moving gradually towards electric motor system buses, with the intention of reducing carbon footprints.

However, while cycles and buses feature heavily in environmental solutions to urban pollution issues, the move toward virtual connections and meetings as a key strategy in reducing pollution and carbon footprint was not covered.

This was primarily an omission of time pressure in the rather compact one hour slot, rather than intention, but it’s a subject that also merits a key place on the agenda.

Waste Solutions
The questioner here asked about plans to make waste less of an impact on carbon footprints, especially where waste has to be transported a long way outside city centres, and then the recycled materials have to be brought back in again.

Here, Mr Malthouse revisited his idea about the “self contained” (sic) house, suggesting that we need to have an effective way of taking waste to the bottom of the garden, “zapping it”, and being able to add the energy to our local energy networks.

We should mention here that Mr Malthouse lists energy solutions among his business interests, so it is not surprising he can be passionate and knowledgeable on the subject and would wish to try to engage in some public education on the subject.

This was a fascinating first session to the conference, and perhaps worthy of more time as a subject just to itself.

This correspondent hopes the conference will reappear next year, and that FT Live will kindly invite him again, as the public need to know more about and engage with these kinds of initiatives.

#UK: #LocalCouncils in Desperate Need of #Innovation

Councils need some serious innovation given the budget constraints they now need to adhere to. They need this to deliver the same quality in services, but at a much lower cost overhead.

How are councils reaching out to local community service providers through “virtual supply chain communities” so as to provide the “big society” services we know we need?

Examples include:

Job Centres – 21st C business skill training for able applicants
Mobile NHS – For the less mobile citizens in our communities
Stopping Nay Sayers – Council “blockers” who prevent innovation
Small Businesses – Better support to boost growth rates
School Disruption – Helping stressed teens get back on track
Internet Education – Helping teachers guide, not parrot

There are plenty more examples, but as yet no real engagement or openness across local business communities to ask them how they would solve local public service issues.

If councils could be more open with their development plans, say by having them openly on social media, then local businesses would have the opportunity to offer relevant proposed solutions.

The increase in transparency would answer several questions about how well councils spend tax payers money, and start to expose and get rid of council place fillers and nay sayers.

The whole process would be far more dynamic and immediate, and able to respond real time to emerging events, rather than sit on council agendas for ages waiting in turn.

Of course no one likes change, especially if they didn’t suggest it themselves. But over time, a case could be made for the positives as to why this could be a constructive, sustainable and worthwhile move, and also ground breaking in reputation and earning potential for those involved.

Happy to explain or discuss more as needed.


The FT Transformational Conference

The FT Transformational Conference

The idea behind this conference is to understand, city by city, who is leading transformational change.

Perhaps city leaderships also need to set out a vision for the change still needed. Here are some suggestions for at least the “Smart Living” component, as I do not have the scientific qualifications to comment much on environmental objectives:

1) Wealthy to commit to directly helping the unemployed – a moral responsibility
2) Ideas capture and management, building an IP development centre – the Chinese have a head start
3) Understanding emerging and local skill strengths and weaknesses – Australians give us a lead here
4) Capitalise on UK engineering and design strengths – UK commerce and UK universities to “bridge the gap”
5) Community to foster citizen participation – build the means to socially engage, guide and reward local contributors
6) Startups need affordable, results driven advice – an infrastructure that supports learning through others’ mistakes

As suggested in the brief, items 1 and 5 are social, the remainder are to do with efficiency.

I hope to ask FT Live to consider asking these questions as part of the morning session.


CITE – UK Innovation in Engineering

CITE - UK Innovation in Engineering

Some good firms at CITE, all that I spoke to innovating and showing the way forward:

Platipus – A family firm providing water drainage solutions: landslide prevention, stabilising vineyard water levels, shoring up wall structures eg bridges and London Underground, stabilising electricity pylons. Employing females? Applicants accepted on attitude as well as skills, full training provided. But a lack of female applicants – are universities attracting sufficient numbers of women?

BattCables: A cable importer and distributor, selling designated lengths to cable installers in conurbations, eg city office blocks, from mains to office desk. Female employment is on the rise, perhaps now 80:20, but a lady representative said “the best opportunities for females are in marketing and sales”.

TenCate: A new synthetic underlay for rail track: better durability, reducing track maintenance overheads. Employment of female consultants has risen from 5-10% years ago, now standing at better than 30%.

CACI: Smart graphics to show employee productivity, still to discuss the advocacy of training for those employees who are struggling. Other uses included showing managers where whole team productivity is struggling, and geographic hot spots identifying “unusual behaviour”.

Webro: New splicing kit, manual not powered, 12% of the cost and no downturn in operational execution. Recent female employment included two females, one in marketing one in sales. Still no great technical skills among women. They experienced considerable overheads and costs employing these personnel, and are as yet to encounter the usual recruitment agency pitfalls, including tick box recruitment and the very rare ability to pick on positive attitude rather than simply skills.

BROKK: Radio controlled demolition machines: significant risk reduction in risky conditions, including construction on the Channel Tunnel.

Swann Engineering: A British firm, making standard and bespoke telephone masts and high level tech fixings. They are taking back assessment and replacement of some less robust masts produced cheaply in Europe when the rush to provide coverage began. On employment, they are collaborating with Southampton University, including student sponsorship, and this includes one female currently under the apprenticeship scheme. One of Swann’s issues continues to be ambivalent NIMBY’s: avid mobile users but keen to avoid telephone masts in their locality, who thereby disrupt the planning and installation processes needed to change foundations or exceed the 15m “standard” height limit.

NTS Premier Services: They train about 25 people a week through one of their service provisions to go into National Rail as effective employees. This includes Health & Safety, which on a railway service is both critical and extensive, and also general education about some of the complexities staff are likely to encounter. Also a responsible employer, prepared to give staff a chance to shine despite previous mistakes. Women are gradually coming into the rail workforce, and NTS Premier staff even encourage their own family to join up and get a job “on the rail”.

Light Green Power: A power unit 70% lighter than it’s diesel equivalent. A little more expensive, taking the diesel paraphernalia into account, and slightly more on running costs if the cost of diesel stays static. On man power though, only needs 2 to deploy, as opposed to 6, a significant saving. Some light here on female employment: installation’s often a hot, smelly job, which takes a special kind of woman to like!

DWG UK: Among other products, they provide a fast fix resin that runs into concrete joints and fixes the concrete, even in hair line fractures. Also great for fixing railway sleepers and road surfaces.

Besides these, there are many other suppliers to the telecoms and rail and road and construction industries. So go along tomorrow, as the 22nd May 2014 is the last day.


Activating the Future – A Way Forward Out of Chronic Stress Situations

Activating the Future - A Way Forward Out of Chronic Stress Situations

The UK is desperately short of resources to help adults and teens with many stressful situations.

Parents of teenage school kids know this only too well, and many are desperate for resources to help them cope with young people’s growing appreciation of the complexity of the world around them.

And of course there are adults also struggling with their own issues who also need support.

What is quite often helpful is a pressure valve, a place to talk with others and let off steam, and actually some non-expert support. Sadly at the same time, life continues to becomes ever busier and more complex, and right now we need to ease pressure on a community support system that is creaking at the seams with more people needing support, and a diminishing pot of funding.

And we do now have the social media tools to do this more easily, and provide a relief resource to over stretched public services. But what we need is the leadership and trust to allow this to be done differently.

Nigel Lawson and the Royal Society

#UK: Nigel Lawson, his #ClimateChange advisers, and the Royal Society

Wotts Up With That Blog

Apparently Nigel Lawson, Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, met with members of the Royal Society to discuss climate science and climate policy. Nigel Lawson has reported on aspects of the meeting in a Spectator article and is implying that – at the insistence of the Royal Society – the details of what was discussed remain secret. The article, however, actually says that the Royal Society insisted that there be no press present, which is not quite the same as insisting that the details of the meeting remain secret, but maybe they did insist on that too.

According to Lawson’s article the meeting was motivated by an exchanged between Nigel Lawson and Paul Nurse (president of the Royal Society) in which Paul Nurse apparently said (wrt Nigel Lawson)

I am not sure you are receiving the best advice, and I would be very happy to put you in…

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