I want to live in a fairer world and being fair is one of my core values. I don’t mean absolute equality, these things aren’t possible but a greater degree of fairness. I’ve certainly got a lot to think about these days. I’m not going to try and boil the ocean, at least not on this issue.
The subject of fairness has raised its head now that funding for UKC3 has been agreed for another year. Money is now available to distribute to the clusters but the question is ‘how can we design a process that is fair?’
What is fair anyway? Each of the clusters is at a different stage and so just sharing out the money equally would be potentially unfair. There are several aspects to consider including: the maturity of the cluster (how established and sustainable it is); its strategic importance to the objectives of the National Cyber Strategy (are there some areas where clusters are weak or non existent); Its financial position (how dependant is it on grant funding): Its ability to generate additional funding (is the local private sector strong enough to fund a cluster?); its ability to absorb funding (larger, more established clusters can take on work more easily than smaller ones). All of these need to be considered in the round.
I raised these issues at the breakout sessions at the UKC3 cluster meeting at the end of March. Everyone recognised that this would be a difficult and interesting task. The consensus was that we should be as open as possible, in both what bids have come forward and how decisions have been made. Funding should be geared to help clusters become sustainable and that it should provide a basic level of capability in each one. We should also encourage cross cluster working and reuse existing projects wherever possible. All useful stuff.
Anyway, the bidding process has been open since the end of March and the clusters have until the beginning of next week to make their needs known. We have tried to minimise any restrictions, asking clusters to set out what they think they need from two pots, operational and projects.
We’ll see what comes back. Who knows, it might all work out in the wash. I doubt it though and suspect that the decision process will be quite a challenge.