Earth Notes: On the Better Futures launch at London City Hall (2017/07)

Trying to decide and plan the best way to help small London cleantech businesses deliver and thrive.
Better Futures stands from above WT

Some very brief notes and observations from the Better Futures launch meeting in the (somewhat sweaty and gloomy) evening of 2017/07/19.

The Better Futures programme is intended to "help kick start the development of a clean-tech cluster for London, developing a hub for low-carbon industries in the capital” according to the London Mayor's office, and "will go towards supporting the SMEs, which will come in many forms including management and leadership support, marketing, access to co-working space and public and private funding support" according to Sustainable Bridges as lead delivery partner.

OpenTRV Radbot stand

A mixture of SMEs, including OpenTRV, large business, government, academics and existing support organisations for SMEs (such as Imperial and Climate-KIC) were represented at City Hall, firstly with stands down in the basement, then up on the top floor in "London's Livingroom". Turnout was ~70 people.

The keynote was from London's deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal, and he and others kicked out impressive numbers showing why cleantech isn't just a nice cuddly thing to save the planet, but is also serious business.

There were then a number of short nominally 'provocative' ~5min talks by various luminaries including BEIS' head honcho for the EEF (Energy Entrepreneurs Fund) and similar programmes for example (Cath Bremner, Head of Science Energy and Climate Change).

round-table discussions

There were then round-table discussions on what could make the cleantech business climate better from tweaks to BEIS (including Innovate UK) programmes, to local cleantech 'clusters' where at the very least 'watercooler' discussions could happen.

(Which is not to overlook that the social and financial environment is probably already as good as it's been in my lifetime; thirty years ago starting up a small tech venture like this was odd, now it's cool, and there's all sorts of soft help and hard cash to help overcome the bumps in the road and make it happen.)

I suggested that such meeting places with peers are useful to help understand what does and doesn't work, to be reminded that doing this stuff isn't weird, and that ideally no one should be more than about an hour away from their nearest one by public transport!

Even during the meeting/networking itself I was reminded why comparing notes with people interested in the same issues can be very fruitful, and I hope for one or two specific positive outcomes for OpenTRV.