In 2012 my imagination was fired by the energy, invention, positivity and overall awesomeness of a huge variety of startups and startup support organisations that I met. But I was also dismayed by the lack of support for this sector from the people that should really be behind them - the CIOs and their peers in charge of IT budgets across private and public sectors.
Now I know there are exceptions. At last year's CIO Summit I met great individuals pushing the boundaries to bring in new technology, encourage collaboration and support innovation. But I also heard a lot about offshoring, consolidating and cost-driven efficiencies. I understand the importance of managing risks and the difficulties of working with dwindling budgets but innovation and efficiency needn't be mutually exclusive.
So this year my resolution is about doing more to encourage you lot to get involved. To show you some of the stuff I think more of you should be involved with and to try and build more partnerships between CIOs and startups to mutual benefit. In this article I am going to tell you about some of the fantastic organisations that are out there encouraging startups and even creating the startup founders of the future:
Start-up Bootcamp is an amazing organisation that describes itself as a startup accelerator. Startups apply to join its three-month acceleration programme where they have the opportunity to connect with a wide range of mentors and advisors from different countries and industries. They get seed funding, access to free co-working space where they can share experience and ideas with other startups and access to various services offered by sponsors. At the end of the three months startups get to pitch their ideas to investors and VCs for funding.
How could you get involved? Why not offer your services as a mentor? Or maybe the company you work for would be interested in investing in some of these innovators? Not only do you get exposed to the latest thinking but you might also find the next big idea for driving your business forward. This is not as crazy as you may think: big companies are getting involved and it is more than just talk. Check out www.mobilefutures.com, an incubator started by Mondelez International to promote technology and transformation innovation across the business, involving employees, partners and startups.
Some of the smartest thinking is coming from organisations run or sponsored by the government. Rewired State (and its baby brother Young Rewired State) organises hack days and curates a network of more than 1,000 software developers and designers. The network is set challenges - real-life business problems being faced by organisations in the UK. Its first assignment, National Hack the Government Day, was the catalyst for Data.gov.uk.
Why is this relevant to you? How many developers do you have? How many of them would love the chance to work as part of a creative national network of the best and the brightest? Innovation doesn't have to be brought in. Some of the best ideas are developed internally. Encourage them to get involved and if it sparks a big idea so much the better.
Here is something a little different. Exchange your technology for a tent and inspiration driven by smart people, a starry sky and some top-notch conversation on a farm in Wales. Three days with 20 of Britain's smartest entrepreneurs learning how to build, fund, protect, market and create a business out of your ideas
Why should you care? Well aside from the fact it's a fantastic idea are there people you know with ideas but with no idea how to make them reality? As leaders in the IT industry we all have a role to play in encouraging those with great ideas to make the most of them - it might be an employee, a contact or even a friend or family member. I bet you know someone that could benefit from three days in the forest with some really smart people.
I hope this has given you some inspiration or a least a food for thought. I would love to hear about any other organisations that could go on this list. Get in touch via my blog.