Prof Andy Hopper, president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology - and a pioneer of the UK computing industry - recently suggested that universities should surrender more of their Intellectual Property (IP). Perhaps it is time to reveal Father Christmas does not exist and also that Andy may be a little disappointed if, by some remote chance, UK universities do open up their treasure chests. While some of that IP is high quality - much of it is not.
Peter Kruger's blog
Rather than identifying the next generation of innovators, the UK’s government backed industrial research and redevelopment program has become a costly spectacle that promotes style over content.
With the previous article in mind it is worth pondering at what point the government will ditch its poorly conceived, and ill-fated, Green Deal energy conservation scheme. With emission targets being met as much by falling economic activity as government schemes, one of the major incentives for pushing forward with the program has all but disappeared.
Described as the investment choice of spivs, gold is now on something of a slide. While there is a great deal of schadenfreude in the media associated with the losses suffered by speculators other, more respectable, commodities are also losing their shine. The slowdown in the world economy has seen the price of copper and wheat head south. The commodity price collapses that hurt us, in the UK renewable energy sector, are the declining cost of oil, gas and carbon emission permits.
Those who remembered how the first renewable energy boom ended knew the recent upsurge in interest in alternatives to carbon fuels would be a race against time. The challenge always was to achieve scale before the high price of fossil fuels, that stoked the interest in the first place, started to damage economies and, at the same time, the oil and gas industries’ massive exploration programs started to bear fruit. This is, of course, where we are today. A new word, ‘fracking’ has entered the energy market lexicon and now the US is a net energy producer once more.
As DECC's Green Deal stutters to a halt the construction industry has been left wondering where it will go next. The answer could lay in the need to ensure our cities cope better during extreme weather conditions.
If they are to remain sustainable cities must exhale warm air throughout the summer and breathe it back in during the winter. Cambridge UK based Steinkrug believes its large scale heat energy storage system will provide respiratory systems for cites and also put construction companies on a growth path that will last for the next one and a half decades. The company also believes the system will make cities more ‘age friendly’ as Europe’s urban boomer generation becomes increasingly climate sensitive.
Another week and another knee jerk reaction from The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Faced with the prospect that take up of Green Deal home improvements could be as low as 1.5% DECC – which would much prefer to be just plain DE – has panicked and promised to throw £125 million at householders in an attempt to ‘kick start’ the program. However, after the solar PV debacle, the last thing the home improvement industry needs is another ‘kicking.’
Here is a little experiment in motivational research. Award one of your staff a pay rise - out of the blue up their wages by 10%. On the motivation scale they will be up around +6 (out of 10). In non-scientific terms, they will be ‘as happy as Larry.’ It would be higher than +6 if they thought they deserved the rise. Now, a couple of months later tell the same employee there has been a mix up in the accounts department and the rise should have been 5% and not 10%.
Some businesses use computer software to work out the risk they are exposed to – however for most it is a back of the envelope calculation. The magic figure is 33% - as in try to avoid having one particular customer responsible for more than a third of your business. If you are a builder having more than three jobs on the go at once is safer than living hand to mouth and moving from one job to the next. The theory is that if one customer fails you can absorb the loss if the other two will remain sound.