Design and innovation week – day 4

Day 4 – Knowledge Quarter, Facebook and BBoxx

‘Collaboration for innovation’ – talk from Knowledge Quarter

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Jodie Eastwood – CEO Knowledge Quarter, information broker and super connector

Back at our HQ residence, Jodie talked about the goals of Knowledge Quarter London. Linking tech companies, educational institutions, libraries ( in the area around Shorditch, Kings Cross London and areas for the advancement, creation, assimilation and dissemination of knowledge.

London Library, Allan Crick medical library, Google, Allen Turing Institute, Bloomberg Creative Quarter 1759 for example. It consists of 35-80 partners, cross sector, and thier strategic priorities vary from group to group. (60000 staff in a network)

Goals/Mission is large: Foster local innovation, recognise diversity, distribute knowledge to the world, advocacy and communications..Knowledge exchange sharing , community engagement, environment and sustainability.

Developing proprietary knowledge base members can access on subscription, (Member fees are based on organization type and number of employees).

People are encouraged to meet each other not email and discuss their field on a non-jargonistic way either over dinners or even just ‘over a coffee’. This often causes synergies and connections in what might be otherwise unrelated fields. E.g. maths could help a chemistry or statistical model problem.

Not wanting to disrupt communities like Silicon Valley has disrupted suburbs in San Francisco, Knowledge Quarter initiatives include:

  • Fostering community walks e.g. VR kit walking tour of buildings so people, communities can see what the institutions are like.
  • Apprenticeship programs for local people, they can work with an expert and bridge gaps into work or study.
  • Provide positive involvement at primary school level. Knowledge Quarter had found that getting primary school children interested in careers before secondary school (and the distractions of teen life), they carried a sense of what they wanted to do and how to get there.

At a visit from the ‘Craft council’ Julie remembered talking to a student and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied “a footballer, basket baller or a structural engineer” heartening her greatly.

  • Walked six hundred streets to identify opportunities to improve things around Camden and Islington.
  • Another event run by Knowledge Quarter was an architectural hackathon. Town planners and design students built models and scored them and presented to the local authorities
  • Advocacy and policy dinners e.g. for advancement of AI and machine learning , lots of experts (Watson, Deep Mind CTO, multidisciplinary sharing ideas and educating policy makers.

Positioning the area and London as an Innovation District; they are areas driven by people (mainly millennials and many gen-x’s) want to live, work and have recreation (fun/play).

Purposefully connected districts
Brooking centre in Seattle for example, people value proximity to work, a sense of place (galleries, cultural activities, coffee) , want to cycle and walk to work . This cannot be forced and has to be authentic. Physical connections between people, relationships and firms , produces something greater than the sum of their parts. Once this reaches critical mass says, Jodie, innovation happens. see One year after: Observations on the rise of innovation districts | Brookings Institution for more

Jodies’ conclusion;  innovation and dialogues  

In conversations, don’t use acronyms, be challenged, don’t use expert terms, ask questions and don’t be judging. Have a positive outlook, don’t fear failure. In this collaboration and innovation are inevitable (and we must accept it).

Get to that point and the barriers become simple….

VIRAL Model for innovation

Vision – Share vision, work together, tackle the big problems, the large questions.

Shared ownership, context where collaboration is possible. How it works in practice is negotiable and contextual

Impact – Focus on collaboration, what will it achieve

Relationship – collaboration , trust, people

Action – reflection, plan , monetisation

Learn – equally learn from failure and insights

This is not prescriptive, the method looks at trust face to face . Interview, then and now.

Review yearly. This was really inspiring and it would be great to see something like Knowledge Quarter fostered in Melbourne. 
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Sights seen walking station to station – onwards to our next stop.. Facebook!

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Facebook designers poster

That will be added as soon as I get feedback on what I can share. It was informative!

Chris Baker Brian – Bboxx

This was our final talk of the day after lunch and a few interchanges on the London Tube back to We Work. Chris Brian Baker is Co founder and CTO of Bbbox.

BBoxx sell solar battery, light, usb charger (most useful charger from their research) and low energy television primarily in East Africa.

Starting as a charity program after university, it pivoted in a for profit model.


Sold through a local retail network, training and up-skilling locals and making power affordable to many users off the grid or who can’t afford the grid costs.

IMG_6155 (1)Bboxx Industry Verticals

From SAS to PAS

Bboxx is Power as a service. With their own engineers they produced a solar battery and monitoring system that can send feedback and GPS location through the 2-3g network. Every 4 minutes, data comes in about usage times and types of devices (boxee devices only) use. It can’t power a fridge yet.

If the bills stop being paid by the householder, the power can be cut remotely until payment is made.

Design and development frameworks not unlike REA, from the 12 month strategic plan, 3 month programme of roadmap 1-2week development cycle.

Quarterly meeting for roadmaps  – Moscow rules, must should could and state gates.

During agile projects , they have showcases more frequently and also stage gate (decision points)  and get feedback early and often from stakeholders.

In the future with their R&D on remote IOTT, monitor and control technology, there is a market for selling those products and cloud monitoring system.

They also are looking to monetize water, and would be able to control local water supplies.

Innovation for Chris? Luck and data.

Focus on the road map, agile team, frequent showcases and early and frequent decision points. 

This was quite a day and we went back to our accommodation to share some learnings and cheese we’d brought at borough markets.
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