Monday, December 7, 2015

Colworth to Maastricht

DSC07565 (1024x679)Seven am.  The rising sun started to colour my right-hand sky red, then yellow, as I twisted  through the countryside.  Traffic was light, I was making good time, but there were two driving hours behind me and likely another ahead.  I pulled in at 7 am to get a coffee and to jot a few notes to myself.

‘twas the first try at my new, once weekly, commute.

One of our company’s goals after closing funding was to establish a home office where people could gather and we could make our products.  We wanted a central location, somewhere that my virtual organization could all get to.  It needed to be close to my chemists.  I wanted to be both classy and cost-effective.
The dart landed near Bedford, northwest of London.
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Colworth Science Park is a Unilever Innovation campus, dedicated to the Dutch conglomerate’s  food and ice cream research.  An incubator space, The Exchange, has been established in a corner of the park, and we are setting up our research lab and manufacturing on the second floor (it might be the first – numbering in European buildings is always uncertain).

I love the space: it’s a new building with a Google-style café, extensive business facilities, a very supportive staff, and quite reasonable rent. ‘ticks the boxes, as the Brits say.

We moved everything down from Sheffield two weeks ago, and our tooling has begun to arrive.  The dip-coater stands alongside our vacuum ovens. pumps, and viscometer.  A space is reserved for the fume hood, another for the clean tent.

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It’s all coming together.  Today’s meeting is to establish the Quality systems and begin to put SOP’s, Report forms, and documentation in place.  In a couple of months, we’ll be ready to apply for approval to market our first product.   It is a huge step forward, almost unthinkable in July.
DSC07577 (1024x755)Ten am.  Everyone gathers in the Autumn conference room, comparing notes on their commute.  3-4 hours all around: fair if not just.  We put a little group pressure on our new Hospitality card to get coffee and tea, then settled in to begin work.
DSC07579 (1024x669)Five pm, I’ve arrived at Luton’s long-term parking, impossibly distant across the airport.  The bus is  nowhere in sight; the flight to Amsterdam departs at six-thirty. 
It’s funny, a 20 hour day in the end, connecting dots from Poole, to Bedford to Amsterdam to Maastricht.  That’s just my unique ‘day at the office, but the routine is familiar.  I know what tasks need doing, what scripts to follow, throughout.
I crack the newspapers, the Economist, a novel, a notepad, and settle into the next-to-last train headed south to Maastricht.  A to-do list grows along the margin, flanking meeting summaries.
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1 am, in the Wyck and trundling home beneath the garland and Christmas balls.  The rest of my peers are asleep or retired.  Sometimes I feel a bit the fool for doing this, but some days are still remarkable fun making this all succeed.

I still believe.

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