I read a great blog post from Hasan Bakhshi at NESTA entitled Innovation policy through experimentation and commented:

Strategic funds should target areas of wider business/social interest, but it's hard to manage the dissemination of findings. Businesses that collaborate with the public sector and share the cost of innovation expect to be able to monetise that investment. Balancing the advantage conferred upon participating businesses and the needs of the wider community, who also part-funded the research, exposes the central complexity of innovation: we don't know exactly what we're going to find out, or what value it will prove to have.

Testbeds need to be sufficiently different from the world of today to justify creating a separate experiment, yet sufficiently similar to the world of tomorrow to make the data they yield valuable to those making business decisions.

Learning and experimentation should underpin all Government policy. We can't live in a culture where Government can't be seen to fail because that same conservatism means that Government never takes risks and is incentivised to hide, ignore or spin failures. A more balanced view based on how well Government executes and learns from its policy 'trials' would lead to a clearer evidence base, a deeper understanding of how to manage the policy during widespread implementation and better policy making.