Innovation Posts

Innovation: then and now

Innovation then – and the challenge now

Published 22 January 2017

In 1965 the debating society at my old school held a parents’ evening in which a debate took place on the motion: ‘The spirit of adventure has been lost’.

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14GW Itaipu Dam, photo by Angelo Leithold.

Innovation in megaprojects

Published 1 August 2016

Mostly, experts in innovation think about it in terms of the products and processes of industry and services: a new Dyson, or the software in Google or Uber. 

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Internet of Things

Internet of Things, Internet of Apprehension

Published 15 July 2016

The IoT has much to recommend it – but we need to set our sights higher: co-authored with Mark Birbeck

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Driverless cars

The Queen’s speech: all talk and no tech

Published 23 May 2016

Promises of driverless cars and space travel ring empty without funding for research.

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Over the Black Sea, by Alexei Leonov (1973)

Cosmonauts: a tribute to Russian grit

Published 21 October 2015

What is it about the Russians and space flight?

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Extraordinary innovation: presentation to a conference of UK power systems manufacturers

Published 12 March 2015

With a speech entitled ‘Extraordinary Innovation’, James Woudhuysen opens the Association of Manufacturers of Power Systems (AMPS) conference 2015

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Tackling challenges faced by oil and gas companies

Published 14 February 2015

Michael Zipf interviews James Woudhuysen after his Keynote address ‘Forecast of the Future: The Value of Ambitious Innovation in Energy’ at the International SAP conference for Oil and Gas, CityCube, Berlin April 2015

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Drones: time to reach for the skies

Published 10 December 2014

Unmanned aircraft systems could radically enhance people’s lives.

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The robots are not taking over

Published 5 December 2014

Stephen Hawking may be scared, but AI promises to help, not hinder us.

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Carbon use

Carbon makes the world go round

Published 24 November 2014

Ignore the miserable greens – carbon is a boon to humanity.

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Communicating the romance of innovation

Published 11 July 2014

James Woudhuysen delivered the Opening Keynote IICommunicating the Romance of Innovation‘ at the European Communication Summit in Brussels 2014

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China in space: conquests, reversals – and revival

Published 18 February 2014

The success, relapse and then partial resuscitation of its lunar explorer Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, should awaken us to the broad advance China has achieved in space

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Dash for cash

US firms and the ‘dash for cash’

Published 2 January 2014

American companies are grimly hanging on to cash, or returning it to shareholders, rather than investing in innovation

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Six high-tech industries for 2020 and beyond

Published 10 October 2013

To tackle unemployment, unleash human talent and end global poverty, industry needs to embrace big ideas – here are six.

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R&D: why failure is necessary

Published 1 October 2013

The US government’s reclassification of R&D as a sexy investment, not an iffy expense, is foolish.

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The robots are coming – but not fast enough

Published 15 July 2013

The claim that mechanisation is sweeping away jobs in a wave of innovation bears little relation to reality.

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From red peril to green panic

Published 18 June 2013

America’s military industrial complex once chased communists. Now it obsesses over CO2 emissions.

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What London needs in terms of IT

Published 25 May 2013

Just three minutes on how the UK capital should apply IT for everyone’s benefit.

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Too much packaging

Is Britain drowning in too much packaging?

Published 10 October 2011

The wrapping that our food, mod-cons and medications come in is not ‘evil’ – it is a product of civilisation.

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Drowning in oil by Loren C Steffy

BP’s Deepwater Horizon and Loren Steffy, Drowning in oil

Published 24 April 2011

BP became so obsessed with irrational management practices and petty health-and-safety measures that it overlooked the real safety of its workers

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Yuri Gagarin in Dolgoprudny

Yuri Gagarin’s brave, brilliant leap into the dark

Published 12 April 2011

On the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight, James Woudhuysen praises Gagarin’s daring – and says we need more of it today

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Big Pharma, small ambition

Published 11 February 2011

Pfizer’s decision to close its UK research facility was born of an industry-wide angst about medical discovery.

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A very conservative approach to innovation

Published 2 October 2010

The Lib-Con coalition is more concerned with controlling behaviour than forging a brave, hi-tech future.

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When a billion Chinese jump

‘Lifestyles will have to be redesigned’

Published 27 August 2010

A Guardian journalist’s ranting about the ‘neglect, greed and human filth’ of modern China shows that new prejudices about a Green Peril have replaced old fears of the Yellow Peril.

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Business models are no substitute for genuine innovation

Published 19 April 2010

James Woudhuysen can’t get excited about BUSINESS MODELS. They distract from the much harder work of scientific and technological innovation.

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How the state is a roadblock to progress

Published 11 March 2010

Red tape-obsessed, visionless governments are holding back the kind of big and risky innovation society needs.

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Do we need a more venturesome economy?

Published 29 January 2010

It is true that in the world economy, R&D, laboratories and national competitiveness aren’t everything – but they count for more than Amar Bhidé suggests.

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State intervention is no substitute for innovation

Published 30 October 2009

British industry isn’t dead by any means, but if low-carbon jobs and protectionism trump new research and development, it soon will be.

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Let’s go back to the Moon – and beyond

Published 29 June 2009

As the 40th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing approaches, backward attitudes here on Earth have tainted our view of lunar exploration

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Risk-taking, R&D and the recession

Published 15 June 2009

Contributing to the spiked/CMP debate on the future of business, an innovation expert demands real wealth creation.

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An R&D recession

Published 27 May 2009

Today’s economic crisis partly springs from years and years of under-investment in research and development.

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The myth that New Labour is pro-nuclear

Published 23 April 2009

Everyone from big business to greens imagines that British government policy favours nuclear energy. It doesn’t.

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The recession and the Politics of Fumbling

Published 19 March 2009

The consistent incompetence of politicians is no accident: it is testament to their lack of a cohering ideology.

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Energising the debate about climate change

Published 20 February 2009

Energise! eschews the misanthropic green ideology of restraint and explains how human action can solve a human-made problem.

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Global rivalries go green

Published 23 December 2008

Climate change will be a central part of government agendas in 2009 – and a rich source of diplomatic squabbles, too.

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Innovators must follow Frank’s example

Published 30 May 2008

To the flagship conference on innovation held by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).

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Knocking the wind out of the energy debate

Published 12 December 2007

The UK government department in charge of energy is strangling urgently needed generation schemes in red tape, precaution and ceaseless consultation.

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Sputnik: when American fears went into orbit

Published 4 October 2007

When the Soviets put the first man-made satellite into space, 50 years ago today, the event launched an era of US self-doubt that continues to this day.

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Let’s research our own R&D record

Published 30 August 2007

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development may be right that the Chinese are sluggish on research and development. But the same is true of America and Europe.

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The future of the workplace: innovation vs displacement activities

Published 12 March 2007

Paper to the 2007 conference of the British Institute of Facilities Management

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Let robots take the strain

Published 5 March 2007

Robots have the potential to revolutionise peoples’ lives, but Whitehall doesn’t want to fund the research

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IT is our best bet for urban renewal

Published 15 February 2007

New Labour’s enthusiasm for supercasinos betrays a lack of faith in the transformative power of IT.

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UK energy rules leave managers cold

Published 9 August 2006

In line with the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, UK regulations require a whole-building approach to calculate office carbon emissions.

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Innovation: on the horizon

Published 3 August 2006

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have often praised creativity, but the post-Blair era promises to see more pleas for innovation. In the past, too many designers were fooled by the false promise of Oasis in No 10. Now, whoever wins the next election, they don’t need to be so credulous again

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Voice-operated: a word-of-mouth success

Published 13 March 2006

Speech-to-text tools are improving and can be a real boon for people who find typing difficult

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Big-headed ideas for mobile systems

Published 3 February 2006

It is time to think large and ambitious, not small and niche, for mobile enterprise applications.

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Cool heads needed for RFID debate

Published 24 January 2006

Trade unions, lawyers and privacy campaigners worried about “Big Brother spychips” should not be allowed to dictate the RFID agenda.

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Metro miserablists

Published 7 October 2004

Two new top-level reports only seem to see the downsides to life in a big city.

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Carriers put innovation on hold

Published 27 September 2004

Telecoms networks have proved remarkably complacent

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Probing productivity

Published 6 September 2004

What difference does IT really make to organisations?

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Review of ‘Calculated Risks’

Published 1 June 2003

Kevin Maney’s biography of IBM founder Thomas Watson does justice to his daring personality.

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Do not focus on customers

Published 31 March 2003

Ben Hunt’s The Timid Corporation argues for more investment in long-term research and development, rather than customer focus groups.

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Will AI put mankind in check?

Published 11 October 2002

Is the epic man-versus-machine chess contest taking place in Bahrain evidence that humans will one day be merely pawns in a world ruled by computers?

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Converging on risk aversion

Published 2 August 2002

It’s short-termism in the IT world that means mergers are thought to be Bad News.

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Ask the customers because they are always right

Published 1 January 1991

The reorientation of manufacturing means a move from “technology push” to “user pull”.

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Mir space station viewed from endeavour

Design for space

Published 22 July 1989

Inside the Command Module, Armstrong confronted no fewer than 650 switches, dials, motors, circuit breakers, controls and displays

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Exiled to Malibu

Published 2 December 1980

A capitalism in which manufacturing turns out modest production runs with easily customised products? The possibilities were being exaggerated decades before 3D printing. Review of one of the most influential forecasters and forecasting books: Alvin Toffler, The third wave, Collins, 1980.

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Innovation: a case study

Published 10 November 1979

Americans worried about their industri­alists’ willingness to take on risky inno­vations should take heart – and learn lessons – from Corning Glass Works.

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