Researching into innovation

With BIG POTATOES, the broad idea is that research is essential for serious innovations to come about. But we also believe that there’s a need for better research into innovation – and especially research into the relatively slow pace of innovation in the West.

To advance research into innovation, it might be worth working round the 14 Principles in the Manifesto. Against these there are also lots of broadly defined sectors or issues that can improve insight into current international practice. One can think of some obvious Subjects for Further Research:

  • IT, energy, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, transport
  • services, public sector, trade, manufacturing
  • intellectual property, finance for innovation, spending on R&D
  • design, branding, environmentalism.

If you work in or know about innovation in these sectors, please start writing articles or comments about what the problems and the solutions are.

Amazon UK lists more than 100,000 books with the word ‘innovation’ in their titles. So we’re also interested in your thoughts on how best to present research. How should we most usefully review and also move on from today’s voluminous literature and media about innovation?

The faster readers declare the subjects they are most interested in, the sooner we can publish new kinds of research in new ways.

The research we want should be constructive, but should also refuse to allow today’s rhetoric of innovation to substitute for the real thing.


We have been developing a number of workgroups involving BIG POTATOES supporters and others serious about determining the landscape of, and issues around, contemporary innovation.

In general workgroups will meet monthly or bi-monthly, and people outside London will be able to participate online or via a Skype conference call.

If you would like to take part in a workgroup, please contact the workgroup convenor via our Research page or or contact us directly.

Manufacturing workgroup

Nico Macdonald and Paul Reeves

Thursday 18 July, 19:00

De Santis, 11-13 Old Street, London EC1V 9HL

Can Britain (design and) make it?

See the Manufacturing workgroup page.

Energy workgroup

James Woudhuysen

Sunday 28 November

London. Contact convenor for details.


Contact convenor.

Design workgroup

Martyn Perks

In planning. (Last meeting: 5 October)


Roberto Verganti’s ‘Design-Driven Innovation’, introduced by James Woudhuysen

Discussions to take place every six weeks to two months. A write-up of the discussions will be produced.

Cities and Transport: The 250 New Towns Club

Ian Abley

Saturday 4 December, 10:30-15:00

The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT

A farmer’s perspective on land prices; Effects of the tax and planning systems; Housing Supply and Demand: the evidence; Place Shaping Enfield’s Meridian Water; Is the green belt around London strangling initiative?

More on the 250 New Towns Club

Art workgroup

Dido Powell

In planning. (Last meeting: 1 July)

London. Contact convenor for details.

To come

Media workgroup

Nico Macdonald

In planning

Contact convenor

Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare workgroup

James Woudhuysen

In planning

Contact convenor

Information and Communication Technology workgroup

Norman Lewis

Tuesday 2 November, 18:00 [Postponed]

BT Centre, near St Paul’s, London


See Documentation and preparation