Richard Watson starts strategic research group

Richard Watson has left client advisory company Global Design Register after eight and a half years to set up a new research and strategic planning consultancy. GDR is now headed by Kate Ancketill, who has been a partner for 18 months.

Watson has teamed up with former Euro RSCG planning director Andrew Crosthwaite and former Westminster strategist Douglas Slater. The team also includes a former creative director of TBWA Advertising, a former director of behavioural psychologist Nicholson McBride and ‘some smart people from Oxford University’, none of whom can yet be named for contractual reasons.

The new company, currently trading as Global Innovation Network, is interested in strategy-driven projects and ideas generation that involve ‘exploration and invention’, not in evolving existing brands, says Watson. It will focus on high-end consumer research, organisational behaviour and creativity at an organisational level. It will not implement the ideas, but might advise consultancies on how to handle the implementation of projects.

The partners will all retain interests outside GIN – Watson, for example, runs Free Thinking, which organises brainstorming sessions for charities. This, says Watson, ensures that GIN need only take on the work it wants and isn’t as driven by commercial concerns as it might otherwise be.

Watson co-founded the then European Register with Rune Gustafsen, now a director of 20/20, and Patrick Smith, now London managing director of Enterprise IG. He is transferring his shares to an external investor.

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