Tag: Scottish Funding Council

Alex Jaconelli RIP

Alex-JaconelliSo sad to hear that Alex Jaconelli has passed away. We had been working with him on a range of projects related to innovative psychometric tests. His main business focus was in improving the operations of teams within organisations, and his key idea was a novel analysis method which focused on the dynamics of teams, and how different attitudes across the team could be analysed, especially in terms of joint focus on key objectives.

We, at Edinburgh Napier University, will miss him greatly. Our first project was a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation grant, which was so successful that we moved onto a larger collaborative project. For this we had been talking with him over the past few months on his plans for this large-scale collaborative project, and, right up to the end, he kept his focus and energy. Even though he was ill, he somehow summoned the energy to continue with the project, and show enthusiasm and drive to push things forward with a range of collaborators. It’s strange, even we you are told that someone hasn’t got long to live, you think that they’ll put through, and we all thought that he would.

His viewpoint on his illness

For many years we, at the university, have been working on improving health care, and Alex had a strong viewpoint on the state of health care in Scotland:

Last month I had the operation to remove the tumour from my neck - which thankfully was 
successful but I've lost six months since the procedure was declined in Scotland, and 
time is critical when fighting cancer. Next up is the tumour under my arm, we are still 
in the fight, fighting is hope, and hope is everything.

and he goes on to quote a problem in his diagnosis:

When I complained to my oncologist in Edinburgh last year that my diagnosis had taken 
too long, she agreed but pointed out she couldn't blame any one person. In my profession 
we call that a systemic failure, and here is where the irony kicks in.

Isn’t it strange that in many walks of life we now have chance to provide feedback on how things could be changed for the better, but there seems, in some places, still some barriers to this in health care in the UK?

His contribution

core01For him an effective team have the following traits:

  • —Common and understood purpose
  • —Goal focus
  • —Communication (formal and informal)
  • —Collaboration
  • —Decision making
  • —Diverse talents (existence and utilisation)
  • —Team climate (trust and support)
  • —Pride in what you do
  • —Valuing each other as individuals
He has a wide range of questions which analysed the traits, by interviewing each person in the team, and the team leaders. This gave him an understanding of performance impact against team effectiveness.

He was forever the entrepreneur and lead a successful consultancy business: http://core-bp.com/. It was a great privilege to know him, and I will remember him for his kind and considerate manner.

More information on him is at: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/alexjaconelli

Edinburgh … the road map for a modern city … built on sandstone and innovation

Edinburgh and its place in the World

It is difficult for me to hide my love of Edinburgh, and I strongly believe that we are at the start of a new enlightenment in the City. It will one which will be different from the last one, and where we will see new industries emerge built on innovation and enterprise.

For me I’ve never seen so much activity, and dealt with some many local entrepreneurs, and who have a focus on creating products for international markets. Another key sign for me is the demand for Computing graduates, which is higher than at any time I have ever known, especially with graduates moving into fairly senior roles. While at one time Scottish graduates had to move away to gain their experience, there are more than enough jobs around locally to stop the drain of talent. If Edinburgh does one, it needs to keep the talent that it has nurtured, and attract the finest minds from across the world, and welcome them with open arms.

Offices in the new financial district to the w...
Offices in the new financial district to the west of Edinburgh city centre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Within Edinburgh there seems to be a strong infrastructure around the industries of current time and of the future. We have Amazon based one one end of Princess Street, and then to have key industry leaders such as Standard Life at the end, and for Dell Secureworks to be somewhere in the middle, we have the bed rock to create a world-class infrastructure, especially if our universities can embrace, and enable collaborations between the major players, and with SMEs. This is a city which was always been cheek-and-jowl, where, in the past, the rich and the poor lived together, often in the same stairwells, and where people were cramped into the confines of the city. As the city grew outside these confines, into the New Town, and beyond, it has kept its eclectic mixture of every type of background existing within its city boundaries, often right in its heart.

I’ve said it before in my previous blog, but one of the things I am proud of in my city is that 90%, in a recent survey, of them thought that incomers significantly contributed to the city. This is something that I strongly agree with, and I believe it is a city which is mostly tolerant, and future looking, welcoming those from around the World to contribute to its culture and its economy.

Hats off to James, and the many others

I see some many companies evolving, many having cut their teeth within the finance industry in Scotland. A great example is miiCard, led by James Varga, who creating a world leading identity product which addresses the problems of current IT infrastructures and aims to created trusted identity provision. James has thus chosen Edinburgh to be the base for his company, and has made the decision to base it right in the center of Edinburgh. This, hopefully, can provide him access to some of the best talent that the Scottish economy can provide. It is a real privilege to get access to their operation, and help in some small way in the development of their product.

For many a business trip to Edinburgh, from anywhere in the World, can often be seen as a pleasure compared with visits to some less impressive city landscapes. A one hour flight from London, and jump in a taxi, and within 15 minutes, you are at miiCard’s office. For those companies who are stuck on an out-of-town industrial unit, they can only dream about having such as privileged work environment.

Well done to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Scottish Enterprise (SE)

James is just one example of the entrepreneurs operating in Edinburgh, and it is key that universities do more to enable collaborations with SMEs. We are lucky to have SFC and SE in providing funding for collaborations between SMEs and universities, and often a little seed from an innovation voucher can lead to great things. In Scotland there is also a complete range of funding opportunities for innovation, from ÂŁ5K innovation vouchers from SFC, onto ÂŁ40K follow-on innovation vouchers, right up to SMART grants from SE. So anyone with a good ideas has the potential to create the new generation of products.

A key focus for the city is thus to enable the natural synergy between established industries and the public sector to engage with SMEs, and academia and grant funders have a key role in this. Here’s to this fine and elegant city, who has supplied much more to the World, than it has ever asked for.

Postscipt: I am so pleased that the Cloud Security Alliance are setting up their congress in Edinburgh for Sept 2013. Please come along if you are able to: