It is great the government finally got around supporting the future of its economy, infrastructure, and technological capabilities with its Future Fund. However, looking at the small print of the scheme, I think the policy lacks strategic vision.
Right now, the Future Fund is designed to support companies that have already raised over £250K and not looking to raise EIS investment. While it makes sense for the government to seek to de-risk its investment, such criteria cut out the very early-stage companies.
But this crisis is not going away, nor do the problems those early-stage companies are seeking to resolve. Be in the sustainability transition, infrastructures, transportation, artificial intelligence, or knowledge management, hundreds of entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their businesses.
They, alone, bear the cost of the crisis, and push the development of tomorrow’s solutions.
Early-stage start-ups are inherently riskier, but every company that is today critical in dealing with this crisis started as a risky early bet.
While the government doesn’t necessarily have the expertise to assess the potential of a particular technology or business opportunity, there are objective metrics it can use to assess the potential of very early-stage start-ups.
First, the government has long identified strategic areas for technological development. While developed in times of “sustained economic growth” those priorities are even more critical now.
The second metric the government can use to assess the level of support it should provide is the financial commitment made by the founders. Entrepreneurs not only put countless hours, sweat, and tears in their venture, they are often the first to invest in their idea.
If the government extends the Future Fund mechanism of matching investment to the investment made by the founders themselves, it will go a long way in helping those businesses keep going while the world adjusts to a new normal.
The financial burden of such a measure on the Treasury would be comparatively minimal since most entrepreneurs can only invest a few thousand pounds in their venture. But for many early-stage start-ups this will be the difference between life or death.
The start-up ecosystem is down but not out. Creativity and problem solving thrive in times of crisis, and entrepreneurs all over the country will rise to the challenge.
We are very excited to share this sneak preview of the reKnowledge Digital Investigative Board. Follow us as we research a recent conspiracy theory in France.
From gathering information using our web-browser add-on to conducting the analytics using our analytical workbench and advanced query builder, we will take you through all the steps of the research and show you how easy it is to build and leverage your institutional knowledge and create interactive influence and stakeholders maps in minutes.
Please note we've done this research with an early beta version of reKnowledge and not all functionalities have been implemented yet.
I was recently asked to explain how reKnowledge could have helped a journalist investigation such as the Panama papers. I thought I'd write a post about it because it is such a great illustration of reKnowledge's potential.
It took the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) 400 journalists and a year of work to analyse and make sense of the huge amount of data and information they had at hand.
While the team developed some rudimentary and bespoke tools to help the journalists navigate their 2.6 TB of data, the solutions only helped identify contents and documents rather than knowledge per se.
In addition, to paint a fuller picture, journalists continued to rely on open-source research and human intelligence to further enhance their institutional knowledge. While the latter process ran in parallel, the information and knowledge gathered through it was not consolidated systematically. Instead, each journalist would make notes of the information of interest in their own way (word, excel, Evernote, etc.).
Worse still, when it came to analysing all this information, journalists had to use whiteboards to draw investigative maps. The knowledge they produced remained desperately analogue and its delivery through written articles was at best, basic.
With reKnowledge, such a research project would take less time and resource and lead to a much more reliable and interactive output.
While our initial data injector comes in the form of a web-browser add-on, we will develop a whole suite of connectors to allow users to integrate their own data into reKnowledge. From Database connectors to PDF readers, word document add-ons to open-source API connectors we will have an extensive list of features.
As they delved into documents, ICIJ journalists identified individuals and organisations of interests. reKnowledge enhanced journalists can create connections between entities directly from the document they are reading. In effect, they can build semi-structured datasets while doing their research. without the need to manually copy/paste anything or reference the data source. All of this is taken care of by the software.
As the human adds their knowledge to the institutional knowledge, the computer can run searches to highlight existing knowledge that produces new connections. In addition, the more knowledge is added, the more our AI can learn in order to foreground information of interest to the user.
reKnowledge doesn't just massively reduce the time it takes to gather and consolidate information, the real added-value comes with the analytical workbench.
Gone are the days, when researchers would have to consolidate their knowledge in notes or basic spreadsheets before making sense of all of it in their head (or on a whiteboard) and producing a written report outlining their findings.
With our analytical workbench, analysts can navigate and investigate their knowledge on a digital board in a faster and more efficient way. In addition, they can create graphs and charts to visualise and present their analysis (helping them better identify trends in the process) with ease directly from the data and information contained in the knowledge base. While the initial analytical workbench supports network analysis, we will soon enhance the analytical capabilities to include flow analysis (for financial transaction analysis) geospatial analysis and timeline analysis as well as all the usual graphics and charts.
Data visualisation would have been particularly useful for the ICIJ investigation because of the complexity of the issue at hand, both to help the researchers find critical insights and to communicate their findings to the widest audience.
But this is only the beginning of data-driven analytics. With reKnowledge, our clients will be able to create interactive data analytics dashboards allowing their clients to conduct their own inquiries by selecting the parameters that matter to them.
The Panama Papers investigation was a landmark moment for the journalist community and an indication of things to come. Increasingly investigative journalism will be data-driven, but journalists are ill-equipped to face this challenge, that is until reKnowledge.
OSINT - open-source intelligence - is as old as intelligence itself. In many ways, it is the foundation of all source intelligence.
OSINT is the application of an intelligence collection methodology to openly available information.
Producing open source intelligence follows the same cycle as the production of covert intelligence, namely:
At each of these stages, sub-methods are applied. For instance, an OSINT analyst will assess the source of information along multiple metrics, from historical track record, access, bias etc.
While some of these sub-methods are specific to the (covert) intelligence tradecraft, the overall intelligence cycle is very similar to any research project.
Whether you are a consultant, market researcher, journalist, think tank or academic analyst, your job is very similar to the work of an OSINT analyst. You gather discrete pieces of information (often online), you will consolidate this information in a document. Then you sift and extract the insight of value to your end client. Finally, you articulate a narrative to communicate those insights.
This approach does the job but it is inefficient and costly. Inefficiencies in the intelligence and more generally the knowledge industry are everywhere. From the mechanics involved with data gathering (e.g. copy/pasting) to the inability to create institutional knowledge that can be consistently enhanced and leveraged, the tradecraft is stuck in a technological stone age.
More importantly, this archaic approach hinders the development of data-driven analytics. Something I'll talk more about in a future post.
reKnowledge is making knowledge research more efficient by radically transforming how researchers interact with web-based content. We make capturing and consolidating information effortless thanks to our interactive web-browser add-on.
Using the reKnowledge web-browser add-on, the researcher can overlay their knowledge on any webpage while curating and building their data knowledge store with zero-friction. All the while, the add-on takes care of recording the source URL and takes snapshots of webpages to ensure full traceability.
Get in touch to find out more.