It is hard to imagine what a different place the world would be without research by some of the great original thinkers in this country. From the television and the telephone to computer chips and the internet, British innovation has had a huge impact on our lives and changed the world irrevocably. But do we understand why and how innovation is so important for the UK, at home and overseas? If you were asked the question why is backing innovation so important, would you be able to answer?
I've been expecting you
Let me help out. Shortly before Innovate 2015 happens later this year, the new Bond film Spectre will launch. Bear with me, but there are a few analogies between 007 and British innovation. For a start, there are several different ingredients that are necessary in every great Bond film. Firstly, you need the brains and the bean counters back at base who can resource his missions. Then you need Q in the lab, coming up with the new gadgets that will put Bond one step ahead. That’s important, but so is the help that Bond receives overseas from a network of government operatives to complete the mission. Innovation is, a few Martinis, Walther PPKs and car chases aside, the same.
Her Majesty’s Government, in this case Innovate UK, provides resources so that inventive and original minds can keep coming up with new ideas, and then UK Trade & Investment steps in to help make it simple to fly the flag abroad.
So without the supporting cast, Bond would not be the hero he is. And without their own supporting cast, neither would Britain’s great innovators. That’s why Innovate 2015 is so important. Innovate 2015 in November will be my third Innovate event. The event has changed beyond all recognition in that time, I don’t know of anything like it. I have met characters brilliant, inspirational and determined, encountered devices strange and exotic.
The event shows how the whole ecosystem of innovation in the UK works, how innovation is made to happen, and brings together some of the most exciting people in this world, connecting and networking in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere. It’s creative and it’s fun and it gets better every year. It’s not a trade show for narrow interests; it’s a show where a healthcare app developer tells me he’s just met a guy who is setting up LED lighting in airports. For Sci-Fi anoraks like myself, highlights from last year’s event included seeing the British-built vehicle that will be sitting on Mars five years from now - the ExoMars rover. That was a pretty big deal for me. I also loved talking to VTOL Technologies who make aerial flying wings. A bit of a step up from Bond’s jet pack. Other than just looking ridiculously cool, VTOL is an amazing example of a British innovation which has become a great export success, supported by the Innovate 2014 show. The founder couldn’t wait to tell us about the requests he received for follow up meetings after the show with delegations from:
World domination starts here
It’s those stories that bring home how important Innovate 2015 will be. So wherever you sit on the axis of innovation, join me and 3,000+ of the UK’s most exciting innovators, international buyers and investors, and representatives of government and academia in London in November. See you there.