23rd January 2017
Innovation Grants don’t go to the best ideas –
they go to the best grant applications
A recent article in the New Statesman magazine’s supplement on technology quoted Eben Upton, inventor of the Raspberry Pi. Applying for government support to develop his idea in 2009 he received the following reply:
Thank you for your application. … Given the widespread availability of “proper” computers, the rationale for a device that reverts to the early days of computing is not persuasive.
Three years later demand for the Pi was running at 700 units a second.
The need to be scrupulously fair when awarding grants together with high levels of scrutiny and accountability drive processes which attempt to quantify selection criteria and generate comparative measures. These will inevitably introduce implicit biases which work against those ideas that are the most innovative and disruptive.