The project outlines are now published, so that draws a line under the first phase of this Ideas Factory. The participants themselves have a bit more work to do, and are no doubt as we speak struggling with their universities’ administrations to define the costings. Then, when all the bureaucracy is done, the exciting and difficult bit starts – getting the work going and making a success of these ambitious and visionary proposals.
At the close of the week, I made some remarks to the effect that we could judge the success of the Ideas Factory by the degree to which the ideas that had been generated exceeded the resources put at its disposal. As David Bott commented a week ago, to fulfill all their ambitions in full, the three projects approved would probably have needed about double the money available. The £1.5 million assigned to them will enable them to get going and make considerable progress, and I’m confident that the ideas are so compelling, and the teams so strong that further funding will materialise from somewhere. But there were other good ideas that were discarded on the way, there are other scientists who I’m sure will want to get involved; there’s a much bigger potential program here than these initial resources can fund. We – that is the scientist participants, the mentors, and, I hope, our funders – will be working together over the coming months and years to keep this momentum going and to make that bigger program a reality.
For the moment, this probably marks the last of this series of regular posts on this blog. I’ll be returning to tending my own blog Soft Machines, but if there are more developments to report on the Software Control of Matter project we’ll report on them here. I think the blog experiment has been a great success; the 20 posts so far generated 171 comments and have been viewed more that 6,500 times in the two and a half weeks its been going. I’d like to thank everyone who has commented for their contributions; they’ve all been valuable, whether they have been detailed technical suggestions, encouraging words, or simply an appreciation of what we’ve been trying to do.