Digital Catapult was funded by the UK government on the basis of a business plan, and that plan promised that startups would be incubated for intensive "pit stops" of a few weeks. I was asked to turn that paragraph into reality. Of course as soon as you stop thinking about startups and start thinking about people, you get to the heart of the matter. Whole companies won't decamp for a few weeks, so which specific roles are we talking about, and what kind of help do they need?
With the help of Matt Marsh's considerable experience, we created alternatives and tested them. We tried a 1-day speed mentoring event (IoT Boost) in Liverpool with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Ana Bradley of Designswarm, hosted by Andrian McEwen at DoES (I couldn't really tell the somewhat conservative team at Digital Catapult at the time that DoES stood for Do Epic Shit!). We tried a 5-day much larger event culminating in a pitch day, and charging startups to attend. The Digital Health Pitstop included days on design, business, health and data and managed to gather a great range of venture capitalists (our kitchen that day included people who between them managed over a billion pounds worth of capital), academics, technology leaders, digital health experts from entrepreneurs to a hospital CEO and even Zen Chu who runs MIT's Hacking Medicine.
We tried quite hard to find alternatives for the "pit stop" name, as we were creating something more akin to Abbey Road studios than a Formula 1 fuel and tyre stop, but never managed to find something snappy enough. Ultimately though, the real challenge for startups was finding larger customers, and gradual realisation of commercial imperatives at Digital Catapult meant it was time to pivot. The final experiments offered an innovation service to larger companies, connecting them with innovative startups. The first pilots were with PWC on pensions and Visa on crypto currencies. I was very lucky to be able to recruit a very experienced innovation leader to take these early experiments and evolve them into a sustainable and profitable business with repeat customers, and the "pit stop" name was finally retired.