The 2016 News Review: Innovation, Politics and Sock Tape


What a year 2016 has turned out to be! It will definitely be one we’ll all be set to remember. Below is a short round-up of some of the things we have been involved in, issues that have concerned us and differences we have made to our clients and the wider technology community.


Alliantus kicked off the year working with national and local partners to help launch the inaugural Venturefest East. We were delighted to be a key player in the creation of this excellent regional event that provided exciting business opportunities for new businesses, bringing together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs. This project certainly tested our professionalism, expertise and sheer staying power and we were delighted to see that, when it all came together later in the year, it was acclaimed by all.


Alliantus worked with the Cambridge-based technology networks, guiding the creation of a comprehensive technology programme alongside Venturefest East and launched the traditional and social media campaigns for the programme.
We carried out a comprehensive review of our own social media channels and took a long, hard look at their impact. As a result, we increased the frequency and type of usage, re-focusing on technology and societal/user issues and business advice. We also decided that, in a year marked by divisive political debates, we had a responsibility to become more outspoken about political change.
In addition to these topics, we blogged on the importance of team work, motivation and planning in Leicester City’s Premier League success and the lessons for business. Leicester were later to win he UK Premiership title because of teamwork and not because of anything we said.
Kevin continued to look at the business issues relating to the Internet of Things and continued his relationship with Aston University Business School’s Servitization team.


In March, we delivered social media comment on surveillance issues and the American debate on a world without privacy (Look here, here and here).
We were delighted to bring ENGIE on board as a Venturefest sponsor – our thanks to friends at Future Business Centre Cambridge. Read it in French here. We also managed Venturefest East’s ticket sales in March. The original allocations were nearly gone by just the third day of the Month so, to make sure no one missed out, we renegotiated contracts, increased space size and sold more tickets.
In a year that saw the death of too many icons, we were saddened that email inventor Ray Tomlinson died at 74.
March also provided the revelation that Sock Tape existed (look it up, we dare you). It’s good to be reminded that there is always something new to learn about the world.


We were incensed that some politicians and big companies think people are April Fools all year around. This was of course exemplified by ‘The Panama Papers’, Tesco ‘Fictional Farms‘, the Great Google (amongst others) Tax debate and Tata Steels Emissions Windfall.
We also became very concerned about the ominous rise of faraging across the world as people everywhere seemed to believe the haters.


We developed our relationships with an incredible team at ENGIE by linking them up to Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing. This resulted in ENGIE producing an article by Tim Minshall “Getting the elephant to dance and the mouse to grow”.
24 May 2016 was the big day for Venturefest 2016. We thank our virtual team drawn from CW, the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnerships and St John’s Innovation Centre. Thanks also to everyone who attended and all the independent companies that helped deliver this. We had a blast!
To round off VFE we re-published “It’s a topic debated for decades by academics, politicians and economists – what makes entrepreneurs tick?”.


In June, Kevin facilitated an ENGIE conference session on Distributed Energy in Birmingham – a city in change. Then back to Cambridge to attend the launch of the Cambridge Phenomenon book (He got so wet walking across Market Square that the grey suit looked black).
But June was most notable for the change in our political landscape. Three generations of our family mourned the death of the UK in Europe. The older members were angry that they were blamed for voting to leave – they didn’t – and the younger ones were angry that their generation was accused of not voting – they did. Lies and faraging works and even Sir Bob’s activity on the Thames couldn’t change anything.
A little bug bear of ours also began. Tim Peake – of whom we’re avid fans – was consistently wrongly introduced as UK’s first astronaut. For the record, Dr Helen Patricia Sharman OBE FRSC (born 30 May 1963) is a British chemist who became the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the Mir space station in 1991. Still what can we expect? Here are just six more examples of where eminent women have been overlooked. It still happens daily.


Kevin contributed to research by Aston Business School’s Servitization Group (in partnership with Noventum) about the future development of Advanced Services in response to some societal megatrends.
He also joined a post Brexit Strategy meeting in Cambridge attended by concerned individuals across all leading industries. This lead to the Cambridge Declaration, a values-based document originated by Lord Lansley CBE and developed from the meeting of political, academic and business leaders from the city held on 8th July.


Starting in August we began a series of advice articles on how to attract and retain great staff. These included a gold winning guide to successful Project Management, five linked articles on recruitment issues and business advice on how to retain people (and what to do when you lose them).
We also developed a proposal to encourage Universities to bring women back into STEM subjects through coding. This is still pending – we fear it doesn’t fit with academic measurements – and we’ll be hoping to revisit it in the new year.


We were pleased to be engaged on a project analysing how to find and develop innovation from within large companies. This led to recommendations on how to run and, more importantly, win internal innovation competitions.
British-American Connections Pittsburgh (BACP) celebrated Britsburgh 2016, remembering the many links Pittsburgh and the UK since 1758. No warm beer here! Alliantus has been involved with Britsburgh since it was first discussed around Kevin’s kitchen table and he is a founding Director of BACP.


In October, we managed and delivered an innovation session at ENGIE UK’s ‘away day’ and started discussions with Cambridge University’s Institute of Manufacturing about Asymmetry in Business Relationships. Hopefully more to come.
Our two directors took a long-earned trip to the East Coast USA to reconnect with nature and recharge before the Winter set in.


Kevin was shocked that he unfortunately did predict the American Presidential result correctly after his trip to the US. It’s clear that both the UK and the USA have had a soft rebellion against the ruling elite and there is no doubt that many voted just to give the political establishment ‘a kicking’.
We’ve been long-standing advocates for internationalism and have decades of business experience advising on trade agreements made possible by open borders. As such, we’re crushed to see both sides of the Atlantic withdrawing into nationalism and protectionist economics and the subsequent fuelling of a terrifying rise in hate crimes. We saw the pound plunge and relationships in many sectors damaged and of course there is also still concern over the impact on science and technology collaborations. It’s bad news for us and we find it depressing, but not surprising, that the USA didn’t learn from the UK’s experience.


After years of talking about it, there was a soft launch of complementary business for Kevin to provide an outlet for Kevin’s creative side.
In this month, we welcomed back Alliantus Associate and Digital Media guru, Rosie Coleman, from three months of providing business know-how to entrepreneurs in Ghana on behalf of Challenges Worldwide.
We’re looking forward to the opportunities the new year holds for us and hope to meet many new and existing contacts in some exciting new endeavours for Alliantus.

Thank you for your help and support.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a successful 2017.


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