On 28 March 2011, the Cabinet Office announced the opening of the “Innovation Launch Pad” and, at first, it completely passed us by! The initiative was intended to encourage SMEs to submit ideas for how their products could help save the Government money or deliver better outcomes. We have never considered selling to government before because we felt it would be too hard, take too long, involve too many hours form-filling and so on. But this felt different and it has proved to be valuable for AdInfa and, we hope, will be invaluable for the UK.
I think I first heard about Innovation Launch Pad through an update on LinkedIn or it might have been on The Business Leaders Network blog (Mark Littlewood and Darren Harper do a great job there). Anyway, I submitted AdInfa’s entryto “Cut Government Data Centre Energy Bills and Carbon Footprint” on 22nd April at 4:20pm, minutes before the closing deadline. Our idea is to enable Government to cut costs, cut carbon emissions and optimise operating efficiencies across its estate of hundreds of data centres by monitoring and managing its energy consumption in real-time. For that, we think they need InSite. The Government is seeking to reduce its data centre operating costs by £300 million per annum by 2020. Over the next 5 years, it is also expecting to reduce data centre operating costs by 35% and to reduce cooling and power consumption by up to 75%. As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure! In order to realise its targeted savings, Government needs to implement a solution like our InSite software to enable data centre managers, operations managers and financial managers to see where the energy is being consumed in detail so that they can make informed decisions about how to improve things.
So, returning to the Innovation Launch Pad, 351 ideas were submitted by the closing date and these were subjected to comment, review and voting by civil servants. Over 12,000 votes were submitted and around 30 companies were shortlisted to present to panels comprising leading British entrepreneurs and senior government business officials. We made 4 such pitches over 2 days in June and received valuable feedback on how to engage with government. From this process, nine companies have emerged as the most promising and AdInfa is delighted to be one of them.
On 19th July the nine selected companies will present their ideas to Government ministers, civil servants, business leaders (including Sherry Coutu who has been very proactive in pulling this together) and the press at what is known catchily as a “Product Surgery” being held at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Following that there will be a reception at No 11 Downing Street. Needless to say, AdInfa is very excited to have been selected. The process so far has been run efficiently and the people we have worked with have been helpful, friendly and appear genuinely committed and open to the ideas presented to them. This is critical because entrepreneurs and SMEs are the wellspring of UK innovation and the Government can benefit hugely from engaging with them. It just needs to take the plunge because the risks are low and the rewards for the UK are potentially huge.