JISC Rapid Innovators invade Manchester

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcc/3885864351/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcc/3885864351/

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a really impressive event hosted by UKOLN (with support from JISC) at the City of Manchester Stadium. The event continues today but I was unable to stay the distancešŸ˜¦

The event brought together JISC Rapid Innovation projects alongside a number of other people with interesting ideas for development alongside a small number of communications types (journalists and bloggers mainly) and stakeholders. It made for an interesting mix of people and the UKOLN team had obviously worked very hard to make it a fun if challenging event.

Each project was asked to give a 45 second pitch for their project; these were videoed and strictly timed (with a scary countdown clock projected on the back wall!). None of the projects were sure what was happening with these videos and while the projects all sounded interesting the presentation styles varied significantly. The audience voted for each pitch (I made myself useful and acted as a vote collecting usher throughout this process) and the entire thing was done in a good humor and worked pretty slickly for the most part. Then Paul dropped the bombshell that each pitch would be reviewed in a 15 minute meeting with the presenter by a team of ‘Dragons’ to identify what improvements could be made as there would be a second tranche of pitches where only 20 seconds would be available!

The Dragon teams were made up of a communications expert, a technical expert and a layperson. I was the layperson which allowed me to place to my strengths (i.e. play dumb). After spending an awful lot of time with Kevin at Jiva discussing pitches and working on crafting short and meaningful statements to describe Specialize.In I was sympathetic to just how difficult this can be and I’ll admit I enjoy being on the other side of the equation.

I enjoyed speaking to all the people and was impressed with just how many really interesting (to me) projects there were. Some of them were easier to explain than others, especially those with a strong user focus that were able to talk about what the project would do rather than how it would do it.

I’m sure day 2 will be even better and am sorry to have missed it (though judging by the Twitter stream it is a little more hardcore techy today so I might have been in over my head!).

On a side note the hotel was amazing and the use of an attendee generated Spotify playlist for the entertainment was inspired.

So congrats to Mahendra, Natasha, Paul, Dave, Julian, Andy and everyone else who made it happen.

Apparently this is just the first in a series of related events and activities relating to DevCSI so I look forward to more great stuff.