Enterprise spin–off spin-out; Montevideo style

I am in Montevideo in Uruguay, working on Enterprise Development projects.


I am here with colleagues Peter Taylor, Lester Lloyd-Reason and Lianne Miller from CEDAR in Cambridge

We are offering workshops on a wide range of Enterprise support.

In-between our creativity training sessions we make a series of visits – the most interesting being to startups, incubators and co-working spaces..

The highlight was visiting two great co-working spaces Da Vinci and Sinergia

Da Vinci:



They have this statement …

Serendipity is our key concept:

The word serendipity relates to a lucky discovery that comes unexpectedly. Co-Work, we facilitate business serendipity generating bodies such as lectures, workshops and what never fails … a good lounge with unlimited coffee grain.

Da Vinci is a co-working and business support centre that focuses on hi-tech – the kids (mostly young 20 somethings) in the space are … pumped!. An international perspective and dynamic outlook is a necessity if you want to be here. The market is too small for domestic development only – “lets conquer the word” is the mind-set!

Businesses are recognisable – a new model for bulk storage, apps for on-line payments, booking apps for hair salons, some cool looking 3D printing and I just love the international perspective. Supported by the indefatigable Sergio Delgado; these guys are working hard and fast on hi-tech start ups and the ecosystem within the incubator feels strong.

Here’s an article about some of the businesses;


If you are looking for an in to the lucrative South American Market I think a great entry-point is through Da Vinci – these guys are smart. See what they have on offer. Angel and Venture Capital investment is relatively low but rewards are potentially high…

and they are moving fast and smartly into the market…

Next we head to Sinergia is another working space – a bit “cooler ” than Da Vinci, it has some special ingredients. It is more layered that DaVinci in that it is not just focused on Tech start-ups but on balanced business ecosystem which sees a lot of different type of businesses from Services to Research to hi-Tech.



What is special about Sinergia is the space itself and the culture within it. Regular meetings and social events including Friday lunches, breakfasts, yoga sessions and beer on the terrace make for a dynamic environment…

Plenty of open co-working space desks sit outside of the glass fronted offices – an enticement to move up and on.

With the hotline to government seed money (via Anii), support to set up limited companies (Sinergia takes 6% of share capital) plus access to investment makes this space a prized asset.

What I like about this place is that it is full of “can do” and “will do”  energy and support; from marketing to financial production to technical they are all supporting each other… and with the indefatigable team led by Macarena, anything can happen and it probably will…

Fun video gives you a flavour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PxpydAHHDA


ANII is the main government agency for innovation and supporting start-ups in Uruguay, they are working to forge links between incubation spaces, education establishments and international markets. For a Government Agency I feel like they are moving fast and  in a focused way! I like these guys – they are about solving problems – not causing them!



InGenio at LATU is another government supported agency, they are focused on Hi-tech two year growth programmes again working in a focused dynamic way, led by the calm and focused Director Rafael Garcia Moreira


and their video:


The final visit we made was to Bioe-Spinn, with Bio-tech businesses being developed – really great labs with clearly defined development opportunities. My colleague Peter Taylor TTP (http://www.ttp.com/) was impressed by the set-up – and if he’s impressed.. so am I!


Here’s to future, here’s to Uruguay…

Now – my job to inspire all these guys to be even better!

Hope I don’t mess up – it was all going so well for them…


3, 5, 7 or 9 cows for every person and 20 million sheep(s) too.

For the past ten days I have been in Argentina and Uruguay working with Incubators and start-ups bursting forth on the South American Economy.


My job? Inspire and imprint Creating Thinking, Enterprise Culture and Communication skills to the three sectors that really matter… folks running Incubators, the start-ups themselves the Investors – oh and the educators – although they perhaps don’t make my list of three!?!

All run by the national agency for  investigation and innovation…ANII (amazing, lovely people!)



The majority of my time was spent in Uruguay – Montevideo. Very generous and how can I put it – semi-dynamic people…by this I mean kind, friendly and still working on conquering the world – mind-sets are still verging on inferiority a tiny country wedged between the powerhouses of Brazil and Argentina .

But hey Uruguay (as we were reminded..) have won the world cup TWICE – a country the size of wales – and how many times have Wales won the world Cup?

So despite the inferiority on the surface the Uruguayans have a deep-rooted sense of … we can infact conquer the world.!

I travelled to South American on behalf of CEDAR at Anglia Ruskin University


This was a trade mission to inspire and support Enterprise activity.

So I taught three things and I learned three things.

Let’s start with Learned …

Uruguay Won the world Cup – twice

Uruguay is going places – no doubt

In Uruguay there are either 3, 5 or 7 cows per person and 20 million sheep(s).

Clearly they love their cows – mostly on a plate having been cooked on a barbeque and served as Asado –


They also love their unique wine – the grape is Tannat – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tannat

Yes cows – every meal – every conversation…

Conversation One

“ how do you like Uruguay?”

“ Yes Great – thank you”

did you know there are three cows per person IN Uruguay and 10 million sheep(s)!”

Conversation Two:

How do you like your steak?


Did you know there are five cows per person in Uruguay? And 20 million sheep(s) ..

Conversation three

How do you like your wine?


Did you know there are seven cows per person and 30 million sheep(s)…

Whatever else I learned during this week there are a lot of cows and sheep in Uruguay and that the teaching of the plural of sheep has not yet permeated English language training…

It was the perfect Uruguay joke/statement/conversation – more cows that people – was friendly and fun… And of course whenever someone says sheeps rather than sheep you have to smile…

Add in the bizarre drink “Mate” seriously .. you drink that!!!???

In my workshops, in our visits to incubators, Co-working spaces, government agencies, to theatres, restaurants and bars it was clear that pride is pumping, the economy is good, the cows are grazing, the people lovely  and that Uruguay is on the map – even if it is a speck of a country wedged between two giants…

So to work… 3, 5, 7 workshops…

Blog: Summer 2015 – New Writing, New Horizons, New Thinking from Cambridge to Montevideo

The summer is over and a new focus is upon us…A heady mix of theatre, training and teaching.

Following the success of Hotbed, our New Writing Festival in July with excellent new work particularly from Craig Baxter with Pictures of You, a play developed in alliance with Martina Simplicio. This was presented as part of What’s Up Doc? Series where playwrights are paired with Academic Collaborators.

Inspired by the ‘mental imagery’, emotion and the study and treatment of bipolar disorder, Pictures of You presented the intriguing meeting of two friends after many years apart. Full of unexpected lightness, warmth and love, the play explored the challenge of recalling the past and picturing the future…

The partner was Dr Martina Di Simplicio of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge

The best work from HOTBED in Cambridge was then transferred to London’s SOHO theatre where it ran for a week alongside the brilliant play from last year: bloominauschwitz.


Following bloominauschwitz’s award as the best new play at Brighton Festival it is now heading to the National Theatre Festival of Czech Republic in Brno. The play is now fully matured and ready for National Touring next year. We also hope to perform at The Edinburgh Fringe next year … watch this space. See the awards – we are in at 25 minutes:


and here’s the new video trailer of the play- hope you can catch it next year (or in Brno!)


Meanwhile we are focussing back on training too this autumn including developing new programmes for CEDAR and the Judge . At the Judge I have been made a Fellow in The Arts (Creative Engagement)…


Following its awards as Entrepreneurial University of the Year Anglia Ruskin has been going from Strength to strength and in particular the centre ran by Professor Lester Lloyd-Reason at CEDAR .


This unit remains a beacon in Enterprise thinking and projects and I get such a kick being around these guys. There is always a crazy project around the corner.

This week working with CEDAR I have been delivering Creativity and Curiosity workshops to Managers of Incubators from Montevideo in Uruguay!

Working with Peter Taylor from TTP group, we delivered a workshop about how to bring creativity into the workplace


Four great managers from Uruguay included “Good Cop” Paola Rapetti http://sinergiacowork.com/montevideo/ and “The Rule Man” Sergio Delgado.

Here’s twelve great stories of entrepreneurs in Uruguay http://founders.uy/. Great people – great ideas and looking forward to heading to Uruguay to meet them again soon and more colleagues.

So, many projects on the go, will get inside them all in the blog over the next few weeks.

Here’s a reminder of what we do and how we do it;






Blog: “Teaching” Six Steps of Entrepreneurial Thinking (… or seven).

BLOG 1st September 2014

Teaching time is almost upon us and I will resume my role consulting in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Cambridge with CEDAR. Or as my contribution is know in our household… “Teaching” (said with accompanied hand-movements of speech marks).


Today was the first day looking at plans for me to support teaching (“teaching”) on the BA and MSC In Entrepreneurship.

The question comes – firstly can you teach Entrepreneurship?

Then if you can why is a theatre director involved?

Well the answer to number one is beyond my pay grade (dividend grade?) and the answer judging by the number of courses worldwide seems to be yes. Everyone I know says the number one course is at Babson College in the States but the course at CEDAR is also unique and interesting because of the practical content.


What I do know, is that you can immerse yourself in a world that can equip you to really understand and to and prepare you to be a professional part of it. I feel there is plenty of motivating, cajoling and inspiring to be done besides planning and strategy, and I guess this is where I come in… focusing on what I know about: getting the best out of people.

Challenging thinking around People, Communication and Creativity in the workplace, I try to be practical, a bit of a bully and a critical friend.

I also learn a lot myself …as the students constantly ask “what on earth are you doing teaching on this course? If you were that successful you wouldn’t need to.”

To which I answer: “ you can learn a lot from my mistakes ??? “.

It is clear from the faculty meeting today that the powers that be (Professors etc..) don’t want me to spout from text-books on Maslow’s’ Theory of Motivation or Schumpeter ‘s Big Bang opportunities (although they are interesting).



It is clear my role is about shaking students up – motivating them and getting them to understand and explore some clear dynamics around how they operate as potential Business People in a shifting landscape full of opportunities and pitfalls.

My teaching (Yes… “ “ ) will focus on exploring some fundamentals in Entrepreneurship:

  1. Be Brave: Make things happen
  2. Create Frameworks: to enable you to think both big and small
  3. Network (ing): vital
  4. Make decisions (start with a good name)
  5. Do the simple things: really well
  6. Work with good people: Nice (and effective) if you can
  7. …?

This idea of Networking is so important. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who I know that got a job or created a business stir through the old channels – it is all about networking, opportunity recognition, recommendation and serendipity.

What are you doing if you are an entrepreneur whether in the UK or USA or Nigeria? Finding and exploiting that gap in the market before someone else, or developing your idea or version of the business better than others.

Looking at the list it is clear that you make things happen by being in the right place at the right time or finding a way to get there quick. Then once you are there implement your Framework; knowing what you need to about the law, the market and the money to make stuff happen…

The Frameworks are essentially plans that can be adapted whether they are for employing, training, distributing or selling, it is about taking the big picture and not missing out on the detail.

The rest of the list (1-6) speaks for itself but I am reminded of Anthony Alderson from the Pleasance Theatre talking about taking a risk or not feeling in control… well, you are never fully in control, but there is always someone on the end of the phone who can help you. You can’t be an expert in everything but you can find someone who is. So if it’s a good idea, never mind how scary… go for it.


In our team at CEDAR there are a number of really interesting Entrepreneurs in Residence and four of them are really really interesting. I will write about them all at length but here are their profiles and briefly why they are interesting case studies;

Natalie Haywood a Scouse dynamo – who runs the fabulous Leaf – teashops and venues. She has confidence in abundance, is a great deal maker and fabulous networker. She does what she says, she will has a vision and knows every detail of her business. Don’t mess!


Neil Muspratt is on the fringes at CEDAR but in the middle of the business world when it comes to Gaming. He spotted an opportunity to “Make things happen” and took it. He brought the site Simply Games.Com about 6 or 7 years ago and invested in all the right places (People, Marketing and Distribution) to create a truly successful independent gaming company. His style is to take the risk but to have 100% trust in who he does business with, where and how. Most of it is incredibly done on a handshake. He also understands international trading and that is where you can adapt to the system and create surplus.



Paddy Bishopp of Paddy and Scott’s Coffee started out grounding roast coffee beans to support this own café in Suffolk. They have become one of the fastest growing Cafes and distributors in the UK – why? – they know their customers and  they do the simple things really well but mainly have good coffee – don’t compromise on this sort of thing and you are in a good place.


And Finally…

Jason Graham who runs ICE Bar in Mayfair. He visited an ICE BAR in the frozen North – wanted to run one. Where should be have his bar? Only the best will do – Mayfair. The Council immediately rejected his bid – no more bars needed – so became super resilient and got people who could make it happen – and it has…


And the being Creative bit? Isn’t that just a throw away that everyone uses – “we need to be more creative..”

For me I like to think in real terms…Where do ideas come from? How do you stimulate these ideas and then implement them.

This is the topic I will be addressing at Le Change Conference in Kosice entitled “Creativity at work: Jekyll and Hyde?”


I wrote the title of the talk in a hurry and have no idea what it really means, so when I have written the speech I will let you know!

Oh and number Seven on the list..? well you have to have seven steps don’t you – it can be whatever you want it to be…

I like “get the best out of yourself and others” but – but let number seven be whatever you want or need it to be to drive you to success…

See now that’s worth going to college to be “taught” by a theatre director…


“…Sir, Yes Sir!”

August 6th

My second week in Edinburgh at The Fringe is punctuated by a trip home and  intense emailing back in the real world, as people start to drip back into work in my various networks…

So let’s see what else is happening on the flip-side of Menagerie….

I now have a backlog of four Arts Council, and one City Council reports to write, as well as two key funding applications. I am a terrible procrastinator on these – always wanting to do the projects – forgetting we need to raise the money too.

Funding is the key to a lot of our projects, and in particular those that involve risk-taking (which to be fair, is pretty well all of them). Funding is in many respects the safety harness for crazy projects; which truly are the only ones that have potential to make a difference…

Projects without funding from governments, foundations or authorities may well still go ahead, but the support acts as a catalyst and stabiliser. We then use our self-generated funds to push projects as far as we can into the riskier realms.

This week, I have been working on proposals involving either creative training for businesses, supporting creative artists in their development or our future artistic output.

We have proposals in at the moment for Executive coaching in Moscow, Enterprise development in South America, Team Building in a legal chambers in London, Audience development in Poland, Preventing Cyber- Bullying in Germany, Pan-African business development and supporting Creative entrepreneurs on the creative margins of Europe! We also have our own organisational development application in to The Arts Council and our biggie – our proposal for our Festival (Hotbed) for the next two years!

Our Legal Chambers proposal is working on a type of “Working Hard, Playing Hard” ethos for a Chambers in London. This is a day’s workshop to lay foundations for growth…challenging Administrators, Clerks and QCs to dynamically connect and move in the same direction.

Our Audience Development project is in Poland working (hopefully) with Agata Etmanowicz who was the Tiger of Tatras (see Blog…). This project is intriguing and challenging but one I am really looking forward to – how do you get people involved in culture as participants and as audience members? How can you create that sense of breaking down barriers so that arts activities are universal but retain their integrity and quality… I am not sure I know the answer but I will challenge myself and my colleagues in Warsaw and Wroclaw to explore the questions.

The EU application is with seven other partners looking at supporting Creative Industries and individuals on “The Margins” of Europe. The project will look at connecting successful organisations and individuals with those struggling to survive (or thrive) or those at early stages. Our role will hopefully be in supporting training and providing expertise in professionalising of creative individuals and organisations to get them to think and engage like Entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile in Cambridge we are working on a staff development project for Cambridge University Business School and some really interesting proposals for work supporting the spread of Enterprise teaching and opportunities with CEDAR at Anglia Ruskin University. Working with Professor Lester Lloyd- Reason.


I have supported CEDAR on some really interesting projects spreading Enterprise engagement. Most recently I supported CEDAR’s Bridge International project with UKTI, Barclays and Stellenbosch University bringing start-up companies from South Africa to the UK.


Projects bubbling away with CEDAR include a pan-African Enterprise project and one in South America. The idea of Enterprise Engagement being a governmental priority in many countries in the world is clear and CEDAR have a unique way of engaging in teaching using businesses and practitioners that supports this.

Another proposal is for a teambuilding session with a company in Bratislava, Slovakia….

We did a session a few months back for a conference for The American Chamber of Commerce in Bratislava. We were the graveyard slot of a long day where the sessions started at 9 am and we were on at 4pm. I watched, as 200 people became 100 then 60 then 30… However my determination to get these 30 people inspired put the devil in me and for our 45 minute session we had folks running a round jumping on tables and generally challenging themselves and each other in how to survive conferences like this…

The earlier sessions had included a motivational speech form an American communication “expert” on Leadership Communication which included us as an audience having to shout out Sir, Yes Sir!! When we agreed with what he said.!!!

To be fair I was just about the only person not screaming it out so maybe I was the only person who thought he was a crass, mis-guided egotistical twat who knew fuck all about anything…

Anyway he shall remain nameless and I am sure he and his stupid fucking dog (he brought his dg with him) would have hated my session on energy and engagement if he had stayed around – but of course he didn’t because my session wasn’t going to involve him listening to himself masturbate over deep and meaningful leadership lessons like be a follower not just a leader! That’s it .. that was the only lesson – apart from shouting Sir Yes Sir every five minutes.

Anyway he made me feel better about myself and taught me some valuable lessons:

  • Be confident but not arrogant
  • Don’t just talk about yourself
  • Say things that matter
  • Don’t be a twat

Anyway that conference was depressing at the time (surprising I was depressed after!!??) but worthwhile now as one of the 30 people that stayed liked our session and we got a customer out of it who wants to team build!

Actually, as with most Teambuilding requests it is all about Change – and how to handle re-organisation. For us this will be working with the team on their growth mind-set – essentially how they view the future and the challenges it may bring.

Our proposal is to run a two-day session – working towards achieving a seemingly impossible task… being truly effective in the workplace…we shall see.

More and more I am looking t the role of Engagement and Creativity in times of shift. During a meeting this week at Napier University in Edinburgh I was intrigued and inspired by a project Team Academy which focuses on teaching entrepreneurial business through learning by doing. A concept I have been propagating since I began workshops.

Team Academy


Our main contribution to these projects is around Engagement and Growth …to blow open people’s concepts of what can be achieved by individuals, by teams and organisations. Who they engage with and why – are they up to the task? if not how can they get to that place…?

Through workshops for Lawyers, Theatres, start-ups and established universities we are seeing common threads – people want to know how to gain ownership over their destinies and how to be part of a dynamic entrepreneurial story, whether it is their own company or not.

This is why we do these workshops using Artists and other Creatives … we love it, it feeds us (financially and organisationally), and challenges us.. but we also think it makes a difference…

Sitting behind all of this is our own company Organisational Development and re-working of  our business plan which is sitting clearly on the agenda – overdue!

We must look at our model so that our art stays at the heart of what we do – but also that we are entrepreneurial and fully engaged in making theatre and making a difference

Sir Yes Sir!!!!!