Opinion – UK innovators: ready to launch – FT.com – John Gelmini

As Dr Alf knows Britain is full of innovative and creative people who invent all sorts of things.

Sadly, they are constantly let down by VCs, who are 5 times more risk averse than their American counterparts at MIT and Sand Hill Road, Palo Alto(Silicon Valley), and civil servants and officials who see the costs of everything and the value of nothing and bank managers who act as if they had been lobotomized.

It is a legacy we took to Commonwealth countries, such as Australia where some years ago a patent had been developed to more efficiently and cheaply extract aluminium from raw Bauxite. This patent had expired and no-one in Australia was interested in it, even though Australia has vast quantities of Bauxite and would have been able to add value by producing aluminium products, rather than taking the lazy route of selling the Bauxite.

The Japanese department MITI sent a team of 6 experts to Australia who practically lived in the Australian Patent office for 6 months, trying to see how the techniques within the patent could be improved upon. They succeeded in not only re-engineering the processes but in creating brand new ones which the original inventor had not even considered after 6 months of painstaking work. They then filed a new set of global patents.

The only advantage we have over the Far East is our creativity and inventive genius but with the speed of emulation and “fast follower ” processes we risk squandering our Occidental birthright.

John Gelmini