Martin Rigby, MD ET Capital.
John Denham, Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills launched his White Paper Innovation Nation yesterday, whilst his colleague Alistair Darling increased the tax burden on entrepreneurial companies! As reported in the Independent, He is planning an Innovation initiative for government departments. Under the plan, all 21 government departments will be required to draw up an "innovation procurement plan" on how they will incorporate new technologies from smaller businesses..... "Some of it won't work. That's the nature of innovation," said Mr Denham. The potential of revolutionary technology far outweighed the certain failures that will also occur. He said: "You can't have the iPod without the Sinclair C5."
Worryingly we always refer to the Sinclair as an example of failure of British Innovation and iPod as a success... but hang on.... isn't the iPod an example of US success?
I also remember this quote from a presentation by Sir George Cox, “If Bill Gates had started in the UK he would now be the biggest software distributor in Guildford.”
I have been lazily keeping an eye on British innovators to replace the iPod bit of the above statement and my heart beat faster as I read about the sale of Bebo in the Independent over breakfast.... they are Brits and making a fortune.. well done.. no hang on, they live in California.
The biggest and best transforming ventures have been simple ideas with simple strategies.
-- John Doerr, Venture Capitalist
Their story is in the Guardian here and Ihave abstracted pieces below: yet again the Insight that drove their creativity was personal Blog Early, Blog Often was created because, in the words of Michael Birch "'I wanted it to be a place where I could exchange photos and keep in touch with my family in England,' Michael Birch's original internet plans were aimed at an older age group - thirty-somethings - but he soon learnt that social networking on-line depends on finding a focus based on more than age - a classroom, for instance, or a particular hobby.
'But you can't control who finds websites popular. Teenagers are always the early adopters online because they have more time on their hands and less money - and social networks are free.'
And so Bebo spread entirely by word of mouth in schools and colleges, to the point where his site now has 100 million page views every day. Bebo is just a refinement of Ringo, Birch's previous attempt at a social networking site that he built in 2003 and sold not long after it reached 400,000 members. And that grew out of BirthdayAlarm.com, a successful birthday reminder service using eCards that currently has 40m users. Birch bought the name Bebo from someone else. 'When we planned the site, all the cool, short names were taken,' he says. ' But after we bought it we invented an acronym for it: blog early blog often.'
It could be that Bebo and co have nothing much to do with social networking in the established sense. Duncan Watts, a sociologist at Columbia University in New York, recently told the New Yorker that it had more to do with 'voyeurism and exhibitionism. People like to express themselves, and they are curious about other people.' That is to say, it's just a basic human instinct.
On a practical level, the real reason Bebo has taken off so fast is because it can be mastered by a 12-year-old. There is no tricky programming to learn, no software to load. You click on a template and receive instant gratification."
Now what was that killer UK innovation?... and by the way Jonathan Ive is British... does that count?
Picture uploaded by exfordy. Used with thanks under CC.
Perhaps we should actually be saying :
"Is the iPod the new JCB of the music world. After all the JCB is beautifully designed, available world-wide, changes the lives of people around it; uses the best components from around the world; is iconic and people do great things to music with it."
Picture uploaded by Indigo Goat . Used with thanks under CC.
So we need to start with a consumer insight and drive the ideas, concepts, prototypes and implementations from that POV- validity... viability enters the conversation later as we figure out how to make enough money from it to do it again, and again, and... we need to remember that products don't stand alone and may be part of of the armoury of a systems thinker. after all JCB's diesel record breaker is part of their effort of ensuring they have an excellent source of diesel engines... JCB, because Caterpillar, their great rivals, bought out Perkins, the diesel manufacturer to both. So they decided to bring some engine manufacture in-house... which meant developing a diesel of their own. So doing an Apple they looked for partners to enhance their expertise - Construction equipment manufacturer JCB announced plans to develop and manufacture its own 4 and 6 L diesel engines specifically for use in its line of off-highway equipment. The engines, which will comply with future worldwide emissions requirements, are to be developed in close partnership with (link) Ricardo, AVL, Cosworth and Krause.
So maybe we don't need or Sinclair C5's but will make do with JCB... and Ricardo, Cosworth, etc.