On 23rd September the Oxford Technology Media & Finance Network held an event, The Day After Tomorrow – The Internet, Business and The Future, examining how we can turn the UK’s creativity and innovation in digital technology and media into successful and growing businesses.
The main focus was the Connected Digital Economy Catapult (CDEC), one of a network of themed centres recently set up by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) where the very best of the UK’s businesses, scientists and engineers can work side by side on late-stage research and development – transforming high potential ideas into new products and services to help drive future economic growth.
Chris Thomson, Partnerships Director at CDEC, presented an introduction to the Catapult with the Data Value Chain as a major theme in its work, and with issues such as user-centricity and cybersecurity permeating all stages.
CDEC’s “field of play” – the Data Value Chain
Chris outlined CDEC’s approach as responding to the challenges of integrating content & data and of exploiting next generation connectivity, through providing platforms. He explained that platforms could take a variety of forms – such as capabilities, technology, skills, showcasing, & project studios – and identified three initial programme areas for the Catapult’s platform-building activities:
- Creative content and media
CDEC plan to undertake perhaps six or so large-scale projects, and in the region of sixty “quickstart” ones – projects that will start small, and which can ramp up quickly if successful, or be gracefully wound-up if not.
In looking to identify quickstart technology or infrastructure projects that can be undertaken successfully on a small scale, the Catapult could find that there is a tension between their expressed aims of on the one hand not replicating what’s already being done, and on the other of creating extensive impact through multiple re-use of their platforms. In practice, it may be that developments that would create a pronounced impact on the digital economy but which are not being picked up on already by the digital community are difficult to identify.
It could be, for such projects, that CDEC will be most successful where they are also well-positioned, or even uniquely able, to open doors – by virtue of their role, reputation and contacts. For example, the Catapult’s plan for a study to develop a Trusted Data Platform makes sense primarily because of CDEC’s active participation as a trustworthy, neutral party, as without someone able to take this role as a trusted broker, it’s unlikely that organisations would be willing to collaborate to share, combine and experiment in this way. So perhaps CDEC’s successes will be most pronounced where they both build bridges and remove roadblocks.
By: Bill Imlah, @ODECgroup