Monthly Archives: November 2006

22-24th November ’06: The FITS sandpit

After much preparation and and anticipation, 41 lucky attendees made it into the sandpit environment, held over three days in a bizarre hotel near Heathrow. All entered with some trepidation …..

The lucky 41 were made up of 23 from industry, 15 academics and 3 Local Authorities, plus 9 mentors and a handful of facilitators and stakeholders.


3rd Nov ‘2006: Deadline for Expressions Of Interest for FITS sandpit

I describe this bit of the competition as trying to get a “Willy Wonka entry ticket” into the sandpit event. In the light of all of the feedback that I was picking up from industry on the CR&D processes, I was keen to make this stage as simple as possible for industry to compete to get into the sandpit. Hence, only short Expressions of Interest were required by early November.

Effectively, we were looking for each individual to meet at least two out of three of the following criteria:

– to have a particular innovation that they’d like to develop further,

– to have a track record in delivering innovations to the market-place and/or

– to have a track record in transport. 

Hence, they might be a “new entrant” to transport, but with a specific idea and evidence of bringing similar innovations into the market-place before. Or, they might not have a specific innovation in mind, but they have the right capabilities and experience to be able to deliver innovation the transport market-place, the right mindset going into the sandpit and a proven track record of having done so before. The middle ground is that they might have track record in transport and have a specific idea, but not quite sure how to execute on the full idea without partners.

From DTI’s perspective, the specific areas to be assessed within the Expressions of Interest were the individual put forward by the company, the innovations discussed within the submission, the track records in innovation and transport and the degree of commitment that the company was prepared to put behind that individual and the innovations developed.

In addition, it is key to consider the “team dynamic” within the sandpit and hence the expressions of interest could not be considered in isolation but needed to be considered in terms of whether there was the potential for complete supply chains to form up within consortia (with some degree for competition at the sandpit itself).  Also, for the sandpit to be successful, there will need to be a large degree of willingness to share ideas and meld them together so that the output is greater than the sum of the parts – this will require a certain flexibility in approach. There is a degree of “social engineering” that can be done to hopefully ensure that there are a reasonable degree of common interests going into the sandpit event itself.

We had a chosen independant panel of experts weigh up all of these competing factors, and make some difficult judgement call on who to invite into the sandpit process.