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Closing our connect networking groups

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Closing our _connect networking groups

We communications folk at Innovate UK don’t get much of a look in when it comes to our own blog but that’s how it should be.  We created the blog to talk about our customers, our partners and to deliver the widest possible view of innovation, not to talk about ourselves.

However sometimes we do want to share some of the changes that are going on behind the scenes and the closure of our _connect networking groups is one of those things.

connect networkings groups

What is _connect?

Quite a few years ago Innovate UK felt a need existed to create an online place where companies and individuals could get together to collaborate, learn, discover events and share insights.  Out of this need was born _connect – think of it as a dedicated innovation social media community.

Part of the architecture of this platform was networking groups – based around industry sectors, individual industries, select projects or any subject that people wanted to draw other like-minded individuals towards.

connect homepage

But times change and we need to change with them

While the groups performed well in creating the links that facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration the world of social media moves fast.  That initial need that led to creation of _connect remains but many other platforms now meet those needs and we decided to survey our customers, and our own people, to find out if _connect had a future.

social media icons inc some that have closed

‘‘I use other channels these days’’

Our research told us that our customers used a range of social media channels from LinkedIn to Facebook to specialist forums to meet their networking needs.  As a result, the value of _connect was clearly in decline and to maintain it further would have delivered a decreasing level of value to our customers. It made sense to go where our customers go.

inkedin written on chalk board

Closing _connect groups and opening LinkedIn groups

From the 1/2/17 we will be closing all the networking groups and focusing our efforts on building online communities via LinkedIn.  We’ve always had a presence on LinkedIn but splitting our efforts between _connect and LinkedIn meant that neither received as much love as they might have done.

Our network partner, KTN, has created a series of LinkedIn groups which cover each of our main thematic areas and you can find a link to each of these groups below:


What isn’t changing? (yet)

Well _connect as a platform will still be there and you will still use it to create the profile you need to enter one of our competitions.

The closure of the networking groups will not affect any competition submissions. The claims and monitoring dashboards for live projects will also remain.

take action

What do I need to do?

Well we’d love you to join the above LinkedIn groups but, more than that, we’d like you to visit any _connect groups you belong to and claim any of the content/document’s you may have posted to your groups if it is still of value to you.

Once we shut the groups (1/2/17) that content will disappear into the matrix so we are keen users grab anything they posted that still has value to them.

the matrix

Updates and reminders

We will be posting message updates on the _connect platform, via email and via our social channels between now and 1/2/17.  We know that taking the time to visit old groups is rarely a priority for anyone and so we are trying to provide gentle reminders over the next few months.

thank you

Thank you

It would be churlish not to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has run a group, posted a comment or simply found value from the _connect groups.  No social media channel has a right to exist forever and now is a good time for us to recognise that.

We hope you find a more vibrant, active and valuable community via the LinkedIn groups that we the KTN and ourselves have created.

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  1. Comment by David GG posted on

    Changes are good, but does not necessarily means it will work.
    Change the platform and create the groups is not enough for the people to use it, much more in a highly competitive arena like Linkedln, and without the support of a collateral content delivery platform (I suggest G+). Crosslinking and Quality content delivery, on the digital side, and a "Hands on", grass root, field work, with a Peer to Peer component will be essential for this new innitiative to work.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    • Replies to David GG>

      Comment by peterwilson posted on


      Absolutely - nothing is certain in life. We are developing a content plan to ensure the LinkedIn groups are populated by relevant and worthy content to ensure the groups offer value.


  2. Comment by adriana posted on

    "Once we shut the groups (1/2/17) that content will disappear into the matrix so we are keen users grab anything they posted that still has value to them."

    Is there no way to archive the content? Surely all data is valuable in this day and age.

    • Replies to adriana>

      Comment by peterwilson posted on

      Thanks Adriana

      We are organising a copy of the _connect groups to be added to the National Archive, however, _connect contains a reasonable number of closed/private groups which cannot be captured by during this process.

      A great many of the groups have not been updated for a considerable period and that would indicate that a lot of the content isn't actually of value to users.


      • Replies to peterwilson>

        Comment by adriana posted on

        Thanks Pete.

        Please could you let me know the status of the following groups vis a vis copy being available in archive:
        ICT, RAS SIG, Energy Harvesting SIG, Energy Efficient Computing SIG, e-infrastructure SIG and Design SIG.
        I have website content that links to these groups. Please feel free to message me directly. I'm on _connect.

        • Replies to adriana>

          Comment by peterwilson posted on

          Hi Adriana

          I hope you’ll appreciate that given 30,000+ groups across the _connect platform we will struggle to review individual groups.

          I do expect the copy of _connect by the National Audit to be available in January and we will be sharing that so hopefully you’ll be able to double check those groups are accessible and update any URLs.

          Once I share the link please let me know if you are able to track down those groups.


          • Replies to peterwilson>

            Comment by adriana posted on

            Thanks Pete, I will let you know.

    • Replies to adriana>

      Comment by Stella Job posted on

      peterwilson - "once I share the link".. where will that be shared?

      • Replies to Stella Job>

        Comment by peterwilson posted on


        Nice to meet you.

        I'm passing your comments on to your old colleagues who I know are building other groups on LinkedIn. I'll ask them to get in touch with you directly.

        As you can appreciate we are dealing with thousands of groups and so individual groups conversations are not practical given our resources. The aim of the blog and our social media messaging on this issue was to encourage group owners to claim any of the documents they still feel offer value.

        I can tell you Innovate UK will be using a range of platforms - LinkedIn/Slideshare/Sharepoint to share key documents in the future. These platforms are more user friendly and search engine visible than _connect is.


        • Replies to peterwilson>

          Comment by Stella Job posted on

          Thanks Peter. I've just emailed some former colleagues asking permission to put some of the content in other places as well.

          • Replies to Stella Job>

            Comment by peterwilson posted on


            My pleasure. I've emailed digital KTN colleagues as promised.


          • Replies to Stella Job>

            Comment by Siwan Smith posted on

            Hi Stella,

            Pete had contacted some of KTN's Digital Marketing team, myself included, asking us to review and respond to your comments.

            To clarify we are archiving those reports and files that are highlighted to us that are still relevant or are still of interest. We are then able to either provide links to documents if and when requested or these may be included in a number of different ways, including article posts on our website, slideshare, or (as I have done recently with our Forensic Science Reports) shared these via our Forensic Science LinkedIn group.

            I will pass on your concerns about the material mentioned to the relevant marketing manager within KTN, as well as your email address so they can respond directly.



  3. Comment by Stella Job posted on

    I used to be a staff member at the KTN and developed several groups which were really useful. While I agree that connect is not relevant as a social networking platform, it would be tragic if there were no platform for sharing the reports and presentations, etc, that are stored there. Most relevant to me are:,
    No doubt other groups have similar content. Will that just be lost?

    • Replies to Stella Job>

      Comment by Stella Job posted on

      Having now read Adriana's comments, I see it will be archived.
      But will the KTN not have a platform for sharing reports? I see Ajay added a report on carbon fibre to the composites page only last summer, so that is fairly current, and could be improved on.

  4. Comment by Chris R posted on

    LinkedIn is not of any use when your employer's IT policy doesn't allow you to connect to it!
    Same goes for Facebook, Twitter ............

    • Replies to Chris R>

      Comment by peterwilson posted on


      This is true but also a little sad. I see no difference between being able to access a social network like LinkedIn and our _connect platform.

      Innovation thrives on collaboration and the sharing of ideas and that's what these platforms excel at.