Well, no, not really

UK has lost trillions by letting ‘home-made’ innovations slip through its fingers

This is the usual we’re great at research, at inventing stuff, but not so good at making or owning it.

The mistake that is always made here being that it’s the existence of the thing, the possibility of it being used, that creates the wealth. As Bill Nordhaus has pointed out the entrepreneur usually ends up with about 3% of that total value.

Which does mean that it doesn’t actually matter who owns, we’re much more interested in whether the product hits the market or not. It also means that the Mazzucato like stuff that govt should gain more of the value created is nonsense. At least, if anything people do to gain a greater portion for govt reduces the amount of or speed with which stuff hits the market then it’s nonsense. For whatever might be gained oin the 3% will quickly be swamped by the losses on the 97%.

And we all do believe that government is equally efficient at launching new products, right?

10 thoughts on “Well, no, not really”

  1. OT, but good news for all compassionate souls concerned for the wellbeing of down and outs, especially Capt. Potato who is starting to look rather out at elbows. Wetherspoons is opening new branches including one in Ely and promising 10,000 new jobs.

  2. But who would want to be served by Spud-u-don’t-like? Might be a role for him cleaning out the bogs when the pub is shut.

  3. I can’t read the whole thing due to the paywall, but everyone ignores the difference between a really clever invention, and whether it really, really works in the real world. it’s just the little gaps that break things.

    e.g. the range problem with electric cars. “but most people only do 5 miles to work most of the time”. Yeah, but you can’t ignore those times that the wife wants to pop and see her sister 100 miles away. Truth is, most people don’t want to spend time and money hiring a petrol car to do those trips.

    I’ve thought of so many apps and websites where 12 hours later I realised a fundamental flaw that you couldn’t work past. Some people spend years developing things before someone points those out to them.

  4. Paywall, so sod the Telegraph. But I assume this merely the usual whining that ultimately leads to Andrew “iPhone” Fentem and NESTA, or the White Heat of Technology and INMOS and the Transputer, or the Viper.

  5. Burger king didn’t invent the fast-food hamburger chain ,but they seem to have done OK copying another’s formula.

  6. Three inventions spring to mind:

    Labour Gov’t ordered RR to sell some jet engines to USSR, RR argued “No, they’ll copy them”. Labour “No, they said they’ll buy more”. RR Correct

    Thorn invented MRI machine, Gov’t/NHS wouldn’t buy any, too expensive. USA insurers said “Great, detect problems more accurately/earlier, cheaper to fix”. Sold to iirc GE

    Dyson Vac: conservative Europeans weren’t keen on change; Orientals loved them. When they took off here, EU Gov’t hobbled them

    Lesson – Gov’t invariably wrong

    bae tempest

  7. Dyson vac – After buying an over-pricing hoover that clogs up all the time despite advertising to the contrary, people subsequently bought Henrys instead. Look at any tip – most of the hoovers are Dysons.
    Far East chaps who hadn’t experienced the crap cyclone hoover are now buying them instead. Once they realise, no doubt he’ll be off to Africa to sell them.

  8. History is full of innovations that weren’t appreciated until later.

    This happens because people know how to live now. They have adapted. An innovation can be irrelevant because people already know how to live without it.

    As the telecom manager of my corporation’s largest manufacturing plant, I was invited to a meeting at HQ research center, ~1987, for a presentation by a group that had a very innovative product, specifically using ear canal to carry voice, rather than a microphone near the mouth. They wanted my corporation to buy a stake, to provide them with capital.

    Back at the plant, I discussed it with managers of an area known for extreme noise; everyone wore hearing protection all the time. They said they didn’t need it. They had developed hand signals, and other methods of communication, such that communication was not a problem, despite the noise. I reported back to corporate, “No, thanks.”

    We would have made megabucks had we bought in.

    Another case was the Smith & Wesson Model 3 vs the Colt 1873. The Smith was a better gun for cavalry, because the top break action enabled vastly easier reloading on horseback. The U.S. Army didn’t care, because the manual of arms already covered how to use the Colt – with its limited capability. It didn’t care that the Smith was “better,” because they had already worked out how to use the Colt, with its limitations. They weren’t interested in changing how they did things. Even if it was “better.”

  9. @Gamecock


    Change is resited/hated by most. I find it absurd, if I see a better/faster way to do something I try it, if it works I adopt it

    Very basic example: chopping onion

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