The start of something beautiful (or how innovation happens)

I’ve been travelling a lot this week taking about the strength and benefits of Industrial Strategy and Growth Partnerships.

Yesterday, I was in South Wales to speak on the Defence Growth Partnership at an Aerospace Wales event.

I’ve then travelled up to Preston today for a Northwest Aerospace Alliance workshop on the National Aerospace Technology Programme (NATEP).

At the workshop, something rather amazing happened. Drawn by the potential of NATEP to provide funding and links to supply chain and end-users to develop technology, a little start-up design engineering outfit pitched wanting to know more.

At the sandwich lunch after the presentations – and around one of those round conference tables you get in hotel conference rooms – something rather amazing happened.

The little engineering start-up started getting questions on their technology, a rather simple, but beautifully designed series of circular locking mechanisms (think small, circular components that you twist to lock, but dependent on design of the grooves, twists and attachments can be load bearing, airtight or unbreakable seals).

Around the table, were senior engineers from some major global multinationals and leading research universities.

These seasoned technologists were at first sceptical. Then their eyes narrowed. Then they leaned over and started whispering to each other.

Then it happened.

Think Simon Cowell when he first saw One Direction perform on X Factor.

A bidding war started:

Company 1: “Here’s my card. send me your details and I’ll get in front of the Chief Engineer of X by next Wednesday”

Company 2: “Next Wednesday? I’ll call our Chief Engineer now and take you in tomorrow.”

Company 3: *leans over to me, whispering* “When you see this technology everywhere in five years time, remember when it started”.

And that’s the beauty of the AGP and NATEP: It’s got grizzled industry veterans drooling over a technology designed by a bright young spark at 4am.