ARPA

Born in the USA in 1958, the Advanced Research Projects Agency exists to channel funding to big innovations. In the last 60 years, ground-breaking funding has kick-started the internet, personal computers, GPS, autonomous vehicles & space travel to name just 5 biggies. Of course, a lot of money, billions in fact was also spent on technologies and innovations that didn’t work. The magic here is that the unintended consequence of all that dead money was the saving of time for the private sector as a whole to make the same mistakes with much less money over much more time. Many countries around the world have their own ARPA equivalent – but frankly none have built a better long-term track record than the original. Perhaps the hardest challenge for politicians to setup and fund such a body is not the money but that the US blue-print stands for 2 things; low bureaucracy and high trust. Small government remains a very controversial concept at a time when jobs are in short supply and public servants can’t easily be fed onto the private job market. But, if the UK is to stand any chance of making a success of Brexit, it needs a full blown ARPA, yesterday. I fear we will still be talking about it in 2030…#UKARPA 

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