"The Pitch"

Andrew Bolster

Senior R&D Manager (Data Science) at Synopsys Software Integrity Group and Treasurer @ Bsides Belfast and NI OpenGovernment Network

Open on Industrial Stairwell, Camera pans, looking up into the darkness. A soft, diffuse, but intimidating light creeps over the top step. With an apprehensive cadence, the viewer lollups up the staircase, turning as ceiling gives way to floor to peer over the long, dark, hardwood that makes up the expanse of floor, (beaten worn by industrial revolution, then caked in dust, then scraped clean in sections by Aeron chairs, ping-pong tables and feature lightning, before being scraped back over again by the repo-men), towards five chairs, the mix of which look as if they belong in a time-travellers’ garage

Inside the slices-of-design-time sit five near-faceless, shadows. Mostly suits interspersed with flashes of colour, usually from ties or socks but occasionally from blouses and vibrant lip glosses.

Coming to rest in the middle of the room in front of these titans, the viewer rests for a minute. The occasional overly-long blink occluding the un-faces of what they call ‘The Dragons”

A Deep Calm, breath

“I want £100,000 to change a small country forever, with a charitable project that already works, but is going nowhere because no one who wants to support it can, and no one who can support it cares”

“£20,000 of that will got to capital expenditure on updating the facilities to provide top-spec co-working space, rapid-prototyping workshop, global teleconferencing suite, as well as presentation and meeting facilities”

“£15,000 of that will go on travel expenses to put young entrepreneurs, researchers, and general innovators into after-school clubs across the small country, either physically or virtually, to show STEAM in a real form and not just the business studies perspective”

“Another £15,000 will go towards an events programme that draws hundreds of attendees and many thousands of eyeballs, through advanced virtual interaction facilities, introducing local and remote attendees to topics such as physics, electronics, engineering, software design, visual arts, electronic music, chemistry, neuroscience, bio-tech, graphic and product design, and games development in a practical and engaging way, by practitioners, not do bunny ears experts”

“The remaining £50,000 will go into a for-profit arm (actually, the charity will buy £50,000 worth of shares in the company, representing a 50% equity ownership), that is tasked with two revenue generating roles”

“First, to act as an agency through which members of the charity can be paid legally and fairly for contract work generated either through projects available within the charities business community, or internally”

“Secondly, and the main use for the 50,000 initial sum, to act as a micro-investment fund, where small investments up to one or two thousand pounds are invested in projects that grow out of the charities work, that the charities community deems investible.  The level of investment will be decided on a project by project basis by a combined panel of the for-profit’s board of directors and the trustees of the community. It is expected that this fund will operate at a 2-5% success rate, but with a rate of return on successes in the order of 10,000% or more”

“The aim of this is to provide a self-start fund for micro-innovation, which is the real driver for the knowledge economy, especially in innovators from less economically advantaged homes; if a school kid can work on an experimental electrical device over his summer holidays instead of working in the corner shop, that kid will go on to change the world instead of changing batteries in fire alarms. If a student can take his new website to an expo in China on a budget, he can open up a massive global market with direct connections to local business. If a retired kitchen fitter can take a few months and some materials to prototype a new kind of widget, instead of taking on more back-breaking work, he might later employ hundreds across the province to mass-produce his ‘prototype’”

“Give me £100,000, and in exchange, you’ll be on the Board of Directors, get 10% equity in the for-profit arm, and we’ll change this province together.”

Crickets, while not native to Bedford Street, are heard for some silent, tense, seconds…

“I’m ready to hear your counter offers, thank you for your time.”

Aaaaand….. Fade to grey

Farset Labs has been doing amazing stuff, and with a fraction of the money that is being spread around the country, supposedly ‘invested’ but more ‘given away’, and often to the same ‘innovators’, I constantly wonder why it’s so difficult to do the right thing when everyone else appears to be lying for money….

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