12 November 2015
Earlier in the year, I went to a meeting that was opened by Sir Mark Walport with a talk about the difference between evidence and values. I think I have watched this thought process grow within the office of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor since Professor Sir John Beddington first pointed out that the clue to the limitations of his role were in the title – he is an advisor – and mostly politicians make judgements based on their values. Mark has developed this theme, and his talk gave examples of not just where evidence was used to make policy, but also where “values” gave rise to policies and (most damagingly) where the reasoning was confused.
22 October 2015
One of the joys of working at the Technology Strategy Board was that I met lots of very bright, committed people with visions of how our world could be improved. We worked to help them realise their dreams as commercial realities. In my more optimistic moments, I revelled in what we were helping them achieve. However, every now and again, I was brought down to earth by everyday experiences. Here is a recent one!
10 October 2015
Manufacturing is everywhere in the news these days. It is generally alleged that we were once good at it, but lost our way and that the future prosperity of the United Kingdom is dependent on regaining our prowess at it. But what actually is manufacturing?
12 June 2015
With the increasing political emphasis on innovation-fuelled growth, the question of how to turn the UK’s scientific capability into commercial success is becoming more and more important. With past efforts largely unsuccessful, what is the relationship we need to build between universities and companies to enable a successful UK economy?
07 May 2015
Disintermediation is a word that sounds like it was made up. But it is also a word that scares people in many markets, and with good reason. Disintermediation is the reason why there are virtually no record shops anymore and a diminishing number of bookstores. It is what people call the effect of digital services on a supply chain. And it has not finished its work.
01 May 2015
Being asked to give a short keynote at the New Energy & Cleantech Awards made me revisit some of my thoughts on the area, and on the introduction of new technologies generally. Here is what I hoped to say!
10 March 2015
Last week I attended a very nice “networking dinner” in London. The location was excellent, the food was very good and the cross section of experts collected to discuss the issue were amongst the brightest and best in the area. The people paying for the whole event were interested in how this field of technology would play out – and how they could be involved. I am not sure they got what they wanted. It got me thinking about the various ways I have seen people try to predict, or at least anticipate, the future so that they could prepare for it.
04 February 2015
I have been using the word “innovation” since 2004, when I started working with the Department of Trade and Industry as they developed their plans for what became the Technology Strategy Board, but I’m not sure I ever used the word before that. Throughout my career in the chemical/materials industry, we carried out “research and development” or “product development” or “process development”. To my knowledge, the word innovation only really came to be used to describe these activities somewhere in the 90’s.