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Innovation - who says history teaches us nothing?

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Earlier this month I was due to go across to CENEX - the low carbon event held at Millbrook Vauxhall's proving ground for their automobiles. Unfortunately, as happens when you are busy making plans, life takes over and changes those plans.

I am lucky enough to have some very supportive colleagues, one of whom offered to cover for me at the event, there was a little bit of self-interest involved as she was wanting to see anything to do with Formula E and new electric hybrid BMW sports car the BMW i8PHEV.

She actually got to test drive a Nissan Leaf and learnt what telemetry means in Formula 1. So she was still happy. But what she also returned with was a lot of useful facts and information about progress in the industry and what the potential is for continued innovation. What I find interesting is how, what seem like redundant or dead end technologies, find new life by being adapted into modern applications.

Or where the technologies improve, such that significant problems with a particular invention which made it obsolete in one time period become useful again. These inventions find new uses or solve the problems with the technologies, the gas turbine engine is a good example now being used for power generation in vehicles, rather than directly in the drive train, in this case to charge batteries to drive electric motors which power the vehicle's wheels etc.

Some of the technologies currently in use today in the aircraft industry are finding much wider applications in the automotive and other sectors such as renewables (and vice versa).

Innovating in any way in a business is a must if the business wishes to grow and survive. Innovation can take many forms, it may be product or design innovations or it may be that the business is innovative in its processes. Whatever the innovation this should be either harnessed directly or retained as an idea for future use.

Britain’s powers of invention and innovation are celebrated in the EEF's 'Our Pioneering Great British Products' report, part of the 'Make it Campaign' which seeks to inspire young people and demonstrate that British inventiveness is alive and kicking. The document recognises our industrial past, while identifying new British game-changing inventions. 

Britain’s role in creating some of life’s essential inventions, such as the jet engine, the telephone and the TV is often overlooked.  The ability to innovate and invent in the UK is not fully recognised by the general public. Such research findings signal our collective need to champion and celebrate the success of our sector. Cutting-edge new inventions featured in the report include:

  • the world’s largest aircraft and most sophisticated airship AIRLANDER by Hybrid Air Vehicles
  • credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computer
  • SABRE Engine created by Reaction Engines – making commercial space and hypersonic air travel a future reality
  • Soil Machine Dynamics’ Seafloor Production Tools that can mine underwater for precious metals at depths of up to 2.5km
  • the world’s most advanced bionic limb
  • Graphene - the wonder material of the future.

All of these demonstrate how the UK is a nation of inventors and innovators and how that unique ability is one of our greatest assets. Lancashire has always had a tradition of innovation and it is always useful for companies to try to harness some of this innovation.

If your company is looking to do so you might want to contact Boost to see what support can be offered to assist in your growth trajectory and increase profitability. 

Author

Jonathan Thomas, sector lead for advanced manufacturing for the Business Growth and Innovation team at Lancashire County Developments Ltd 

Find out more

To apply for support from Boost Business Lancashire, complete our online form or call 0800 488 0057.

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