Posts Tagged 'Innovation'

Deep tech – Britain’s future in the diamond synchotron

Britain is good at innovation. From electric light to mobile telephony, from medical breakthroughs and the offside rule… as well as scifi fantasy like Blade Runner

I picked up yesterday on the Diamond Synchotron – Britain’s biggest scientific infrastructure investment for 40 years. Brilliantly futuristic name and major investment by some obviously brilliant British pioneers…

 Aerial photo of Diamond Aerial view of Diamond

This fabulous looking facility can create light that’s 10 billion times brighter than the sun. It will keep us at the forefront of research in medicine, genetics, environment and materials.

Great for Britain; great for Oxford and environs; one of those slow-burn investments that will keep cropping up creating world class impact again and again. I am sure I’m not the only one applauding some real deep science and great British visionary investment in experimentation.


Venturesome Economy – the secret of innovation

Was recently reading an interesting book review in the FT of a book called The Venturesome Economy – How innovation sustains prosperity in a more connected World, by Amar Bhide.

The thesis is well worn – that innovation will keep developed economies like the US and UK ahead of the marching hoards of the BRIC economies.

I’ve been quaking that India and China are each spitting out a million MBAs per annum and thinking that my kids will not have any hope in the 2020s because our world will be overrun by the brainboxes of the emerging nations.

Good news for them! And, it chimes with intuitive thoughts I’ve had about our more developed marketplaces… it’s not necessarily the innovation that has kept our economies ahead, it’s the fact that our consumers are more willing to embrace new technology and this ‘venturesome consumption’ which drives the market, which drives the innovators, which drive the economy.

So, here’s to the early adopters of the bleedingly trendy. Here’s to Tweeters on Twitter… to flashmobs, to Huddle, to Six to Start, to Oil Productions, to Velo Agency… to nonsensical fashions in Hoxton, or crazy artists in the Tea Building… it all adds up to a vibrant marketplace that tests, filters, champions.

And, creates progress. And prosperity.


Another blog post picks up the topic here. Saying stuff that I’d pick up – on the public policy context for innovation… should government help start-ups at all? which ones – the big near-successes or the myriad of small/risky?:

The Venturesome Economy

Amar Bhide channels Austan Goolsbee when he writes:

[…] there is little evidence of an “undersupply” or a need for public policies to stimulate the production of more high-level know-how or to subsidize the training of more homegrown scientists and engineers. Rather, given the realities of modern innovation, there is a good argument for reversing policy biases against the development – and even more importantly – the effective use of mid- and ground-level innovations. Public policies should stop trying to rob mid- and ground-level Peters to pay high-level Pauls.

LloydsTSB-HBOS – jumble sales and bottom fishing

So, my blog has gloriously covered the new-new opportunities in digital and media. I break into this editorial line with a comment on ‘other stuff that’s going to be big’.

Clearly, we are seeing tectonic shifts in the world markets – and this will impact the local economy and enterprise opportunities.

What do they say? When everyone else says ‘take cover’, it’s time to ‘take risk’. I bought Lloyds shares this morning at 265p, now standing at 290p. I had a long conversation with my stockbroker about the characteristics for calling the bottom of the market… kitchen-sinking, corporate failures, bad news epidemic… then a platform for returning stability. The market will react before the economy and may bounce.

So, 2009 looks to be a very tough year ahead – but with the re-rating of prices, labour forces and froth… there will also be great opportunities for the fleet of foot.

Boring ol’ Lloyds has just hit payback for years of caution while others have hit stella growth and over-reached themselves. Three cheers for the snails and not the hares, this week.

The digital economy is not in reverse either – it’s seeing switching from ‘old media’ and still some pretty tight labour constraints. How long this can continue? Who knows. Keep digging!

O3b Networks – African Safari

It looks like philanthropy to invest millions in Africa. But, it could also be one of those amazingly far-sighted early-stage investments.

A bunch of entrepreneurs is backing O3b networks to put up 16 satellites to provide a wireless backbone for Africa. That’s Google, John Malone of Liberty Global, HSBC, Allen & Company… on the road to $750m in spend.

This could be a path for linking up with consumers in a host of other emerging markets. Hence the name of the firm… which stands for ‘Other 3 billion’… the half of the world that’s not currently within reach of Wikipedia and Facebook…

And, for more links to Google’s multifarious ambitions, check out this blog from Unstung.

Widgets, applets, snippets, games – the future for Apple iPhone

Apple took $1m per day in sales of apps at its Appstore on iTunes since launching the new 3G iPhone. Steve Jobs says it’s going to create a $1billion business… well, he said it’d ‘crest at half a billion soon’, which is a nice way to describe the run-rate of takings…

What is significant about this new marketplace isn’t just the valuation positive for Apple, it’s the way it gives a new lease of life to a whole load of entrepreneurs. looked to be killing Pandora (which drew its horns in and went US-only). But, there’ve been a million downloads of Pandora’s iPhone radio station stuff. It’s mentioned by the FT’s tech correspondent here.


ReadWriteWeb put it like this:

The App Store: Soon To Be A Billion Dollar Marketplace?

Anyone who has the iPhone or iPod Touch can tell you that one of the best things about owning the device is the ability to add apps from iTunes App Store. Although many of the apps that we talk about here are the free ones like the social networking appsthe instant messaging apps, and the blogging apps, it’s the paid apps that are making the store a financial success.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, in the month since the Apple App Store opened, users have downloaded over 60 million programs for their iPhone or iPod Touch. Out of those that were downloaded, Apple sold an average of $1 million per day in paid applications, which brought in around $30 million over the course of the month.

If they stay the course, the App Store will make at least $360 million a year, but Steve Jobs isn’t setting for that:

“This thing’s going to crest a half a billion, soon,” he told the WSJ reporter. “Who knows, maybe it will be a $1 billion marketplace at some point in time.”

However, it’s worth noting that Apple won’t be raking in those millions just for themselves – they only keep 30% of the proceeds, a good portion of which go to cover the costs of credit card transactions and help keep the App Store up-and-running. It’s really the apps’ creators who stand to gain, as they keep 70% of the proceeds.

What sort of paid apps are doing well? A quick glance at the App Store reveals that answer: games. Sega can back that up, too. They sold more than 300,000 copies of their Super Monkeyball game ($9.99) in only 20 days. According to Simon Jeffery, president of Sega’s U.S. division: “It gives iPhone a justifiable claim to being a viable gaming platform.”

But with numbers like these, we would argue that the iPhone goes beyond just being a gaming platform – they’re a computing platform now…and a profitable one at that.

After BT pays up for Ribbit, so Comcast TV firm buys DailyCandy

It’s so simple. Every day, Daily Candy sends out an email featuring one cool thing that a sassy Sex-in-The-City kinda gal might fancy. Looks like they tailor it to a dozen cities. But, they reckon to be making £5m profit this year.

Lovely editorial perspective. Greatly scalable.

Well, a US cable TV firm just bid $125million to buy the thing.

Techcrunch carries the story here.

Hmmm. That’s £5m or $10m per city of coverage. Sweet exit indeed.

London digital magic continues

The challenge in searching for the Next Big Thing is that so many entrepreneurs are hard at it in Widget World – creating the business of the future. How do you grade them, rate their prospects and see clear water between them?

That task has recently fallen to Chinwag, the digital commentators, who are leading a UK government trade mission – Digital Mission – to take Brit firms to big US events for a spot of exposure. No doubt, with some limelight, passes to Web 2.0 Expo and some air tickets involved, Chinwag had a big field to whittle down.

Those going to the Big Apple with Digital Mission in Sept – and therefore worth a sniff as candidates for Next Big Thing… (Digital Mission has 40 places for Austin, Texas in Mar 09 next up…)
B View – 
Harvest Digital – 
Head London –
Headshift – 
Huddle – 
idiomag – 
KMP Interactive Marketing and Technology – 
Market Sentinel – 
Mippin –
Littleloud – 
QuickTV – 
Slicethepie – 
Smarkets – 
Sweemo – 
Tactile CRM – 
Tempero – 
UGame – 
UnLtdWorld –
Unruly Media – 
Veedow – 
WorldTV –

More details on the companies, and their delegates, can be found on the NYC 08 Companies page.

To quote Chinwag’s website on the selection process: ‘The talent on display was very impressive and we were literally awed by the calibre of business and innovation in the mix! The broad swathe of companies is also testimony to the bouyancy, creativity and profound depth of the UK digital scene.’

Go for it, guys… show ’em what London has to offer!

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