For me Bob Geldof was the highlight of yesterday’s NESTA innovation conference.
For one thing Bob’s a natural performer. He was able to speak without notes for 40 minutes and hold the attention of the room. With 3000 people in serried ranks that’s not at all easy to do.
For another, I found him very down to earth on a subject on which it’s easy to be abstract. He made an interesting point about innovation happening naturally in response to need; that Ireland’s dire poverty may have been powerfully linked to its more recent economic success.
Geldof reminded me of Thunderbird 6. Here’s what I said about that last year in a slightly different context:
That was a movie I enjoyed as an eight-year-old. You can see the trailer here…
Jeff Tracy and the team at International Rescue are up to their usual heroics. The subplot is Jeff demanding the hapless Brains come up with a sixth thunderbird. As the movie rolls on, a series of ingenious but daft models for the new machine are presented. Jeff disses each in turn, and we see each model swept off the table and breaking up like so much lego. In the end, one of the Tracy boys has to improvise a rescue with an old biplane which then gets jokingly referred to as T6.
Innovation happens in response to real needs.
So for me, the challenge of innovation is about expressing and recognising need. That requires sensitivity, vulnerability, passion and some kind of humility. (I imagine you may be wondering about Geldof and humility; I could explain but not today).
Talking about humility, another good contribution yesterday came from Tim Berners-Lee, and James has covered that nicely already.
I also appreciated the exhibition space which seemed awash with all sorts of creative projects which NESTA has supported. I would have enjoyed some of their war stories as part of the main program.