Banner image

Blog

Innovation is Failure

In the late 18th century, Ironbridge in Shropshire was at the heart of the British industrial revolution – and Britain led the world.  A fizzing hot house of invention, investment and innovation, it was the Silicon Valley of its day.  One of the thrilling new products discovered and processed in Ironbridge was ‘British Oil’.  The raw material oozed naturally from the ground in Ironbridge, and in 1787 the Coal Tar Tunnel was dug beside the River Severn, to harvest and transport this amazing product.  The tunnel was built by a certain William Hombersley.

» Read more

Innovation is Failure

So why hasn’t GE invented it?

You’ve done your pitch.  The investors are engaged.  You’ve amazed them with the potential of the technology.  20% of something has been saved.  It’s 50% better than something else.  The market is huge, and ready for innovation.  You understand the barriers, and how to overcome them. The investors are impressed with you, and the experience of your team.

It’s time for questions.  And one of the first ones will be: “if it’s so good, why hasn’t it been invented by GE / ABB / IBM [insert blue chip company acronym of choice].”

» Read more

So why hasn’t GE invented it?

When it’s time to move on

There are old fools.  Experienced idiots.  People who never learn.  But generally as we progress through careers and lives experiencing all the things that people experience, we learn more about ourselves.  We get to become more expert in who we are and what we’re good at.  And when it’s time to hand over to other people with different skills and experience.

» Read more

When it’s time to move on

Cleantech is dead. Long live Cleantech!

At the beginning of the cleantech era, every idealistic entrepreneur had a dream of the big idea.  Paradigm shifting, carbon saving, giant beating – these were big technologies with big futures and in a fast changing big new world.  Entire new industries were envisaged, new prime movers in energy conversion technologies, fuels, materials, geo-engineering and nano-particles.  It was all potential, all about creating a company with a big idea – I know, I started one.

And now?  Is cleantech dead?  Where are the big ideas?

» Read more

Cleantech is dead.  Long live Cleantech!

Where are the Innovators?

When you visited the R&D team of a UK company 20 years ago, you’d often find yourself swooping up the drive of a Victorian mansion, somewhere on the outskirts of an industrial city.  Labs would sprawl through leafy established parkland.  There was sometimes an air of gentle dilapidation, but this is where UK industry would house its most unworldly, eccentric, and intelligent staff – the innovators.  It’s from places like these that, throughout the 20th century, Britain led world engineering through odd collaborations, private passions, public funding and individual ingenuity. Utilities had their own similar labs and innovators, who crucially had the time and resources to play with ideas.  Innovation is risk – to succeed one must accept failure.  Without benign indulgence by management of delays, mistakes and outright eccentricity, innovation cannot thrive.

» Read more

Where are the Innovators?