Summit to think about

There is a sense in UK innovation that getting ideas from laboratory or drawing board to the commercial marketplace just isn’t always as easy as it should be.


A radio panel show recently discussed the national characteristics of people from various countries, attempting to identify whether strengths and weaknesses could be found in common.



Cue plenty of sweeping generalisations and stereotyping, much talk of passionate Italians, efficient Germans and brash Americans.



One of the more interesting moments came when the multi-national panel was asked its opinion of the British.



An American businessman offered this observation. ‘You guys are great at solving problems, overcoming obstacles, thinking up new concepts and putting them into practice. But it seems as if you like to make things tough for yourselves. It’s almost as if you need to have muddled through, had a few narrow scrapes and a few lucky breaks or you don’t feel like you’ve done it properly.’



To some laughter around the table he added: ‘Then we come along and buy it and make all the money.’



Again, rather a cliché, but like all good clichés one with its roots in reality.



The UK has a fine track record in inventing, innovating and pushing the boundaries in various industries – not least advanced engineering and technology.



But there is a sense, as alluded to by our American panellist, that getting ideas from laboratory or drawing board to the commercial marketplace just isn’t always as easy as it should be.



And that if they get there, sustaining them as commercial entities is more problematic than it might be in an ideal world.



We don’t live in an ideal world of course, but we can try to understand where we could do things better, learn from the experience of other nations and, just as importantly, look at the success stories that prove you can be a successful innovator and a sound, growing business in the UK.



Here comes the plug. On June 27, The Engineer will stage the first Engineer Summit on the theme of Commercialising Technology. The one-day Summit will be held at ImperialCollege in London, with speakers from all the sectors who will shape our future technology economy – from major OEMs to innovative SMEs, from financiers to government bodies. And we promise no clichés or stereotypes.



For full details visit  www.theengineerconferences.com