Opinion – Old man creates tofu pudding-making robot – People’s Daily Online

English: Logo of the People's Daily 中文: 人民日报题字

English: Logo of the People’s Daily 中文: 人民日报题字 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an amazing, must-read article, with some great photos, published by People’s Daily, China’s leading newspaper. Check it out!

via Old man creates tofu pudding-making robot – People’s Daily Online.

It worth reflecting on the facts and implications. The inventor is 72 years of age. It happened in China. The robot automates a repetitive task in a small restaurant.

Fast-track to the UK and consider why similar innovation is not happening up and down the UK?

I don’t know the answer but having been the European General Manager of a US manufacturing multi-national, I have a few powerful insights about the UK:

  • Engineering as a profession has long been out of fashion
  • Engineering is associated with dirty finger nails and wearing overalls
  • Engineering is considered a cop-out degree – you take engineering when your grades are a bit questionable
  • Engineers frequently need to re-invent themselves and take an MBA
  • Britain‘s engineering companies disappeared in the seventies, when trade unions drove manufacturing overseas
  • The fast-track route to general management in the UK is via sales and marketing, or possibly finance but very rarely engineering
  • Britain has always been on the forefront of scientific breakthrough but loses out on development
  • The UK record on start-ups has always trailed the US and now Berlin is overtaking London
  • Financial services has increasingly captured the lion’s share of investment and the UK’s graduate talent
  • A short-termism pervades British businesses
  • Accountants carry too much sway compared to engineers – I’m a Chartered Accountant 🙂
  • Britain is deeply biased against older people’s capabilities and achievements
  • UK governments have repeatedly ignored the need for an industry strategy, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
  • Financial services has leveraged its power with highly effective lobbying
  • Banks prefer consumer credit on scoring models rather than trying to understand small businesses and delivering innovation and development

Above I have focused upon the UK but the point is generalizable across Europe and raises profound questions about the EU’s policies.

Let me ask an open question about innovation and development in modern Europe:

Do you think that any European country could spawn the local equivalent of the robot for tofu pudding making?