Innovation crisis in the West

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Paul172, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I'm studying electronics at university and also I'm creating lots of prototypes for learning purposes like: automated irrigation systems for the garden, powerbanks, audio systems, LED controllers, camera cases using 3D printing technology and much more. I was thinking to find a place where people consider creating bussines with a goal to sell or create innovations, however, I couldn't find any active forums. It seems that nowadays people know only how to resell products, but not to create new ones. If you ask for an advice how to make money you, always hear the same answer: create websites, find a niche and resell products from other countries or something similar.
    I have a plan to make a business creating new and unique devices, but for now I have to learn more about creating devices and of course collect some money (you know students are always broke :D). But that's for the future. For now I believe it would be best for me to find a person who is working with these things or at least interested in my projects and create a new professional project together. It would help me to get required experience. The main goal is not to make money, but to learn.

    What do you think about "innovation crisis"? Does it exists or I'm imagining things? Do you have any suggestions how to find people I mentioned before? Maybe you have your own innovative idea and I can make it into reality?
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  2. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Judging by recent years there doesn't appear to be an innovation crisis.
    New and unique devices isn't necessarily a good way of making money. People can take time to get used to a new device.
    Reselling products made elsewhere strangely enough is the basis of trade for thousands of years and still works now.
    Sold a few items today that were produced in China - hey its a sale.

    Students being always broke is down to working or not working - can as easily say unemployed are always broke and they can have lower annual money than students. :)
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  3. alan1302

    alan1302 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Think you are imagining it - there is a huge number of different things out there - just look at the electronics show in the US at the moment.
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: alan1302 Member since: Jun 2, 2018
  4. sirearl

    sirearl UKBF Legend Free Member

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    I suspect everything may have been invented many years ago.

    All I seem to see these days is developments of existing ideas?
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: sirearl Member since: Apr 23, 2007
  5. alan1302

    alan1302 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Very few items are new inventions - most even in the past built on what came before
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: alan1302 Member since: Jun 2, 2018
  6. Alan

    Alan UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

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    I think invention or innovation is generally putting two or more existing ideas together that haven't been thought of before.

    Like Trevor Bayliss (RIP) was famous for the wind up radio. BTW the Trevor Bayliss Brands lives on helping inventors

    I think you can also count actually doing something that was thought of, but previously impossible, e.g. powered flight, and there are still things that are deemed impossible that you could try and do, time travel, warp speed, being beamed up, generally study star trek :)
    Posted: Jan 9, 2019 By: Alan Member since: Aug 16, 2011
  7. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1
    I thought about that you all said for a while. It seems that nowadays most of the attention goes to improving not creating new things. Think about how many inventions you can tell which hadn't existed 10 years ago. Maybe it was always the case, but now more and more new things or improvements come from South Korea or China. People in the West are not interested in creating things, for example in my university only 40 people went to study electronics (For example 280 students had chosen "economy"), 14 of them left university after 1 year. And from those 26 people maybe only 4 people know a bit about electronics. . You know universities are "trying to improve you as a person" not as a specialist. Government is trying to encourage people into these studies, it seems that problem is not in the government, but in peoples' mentality.
    The question remains: how can I find people encouraging innovations?
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  8. Lee Oakley

    Lee Oakley UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    Hi Paul,
    That's great you are actively innovating and the best of luck to you.

    I have personally worked on highly innovative R&D projects (and commercialising them) over the last few years and can highly recommended Innovate UK ( and The Knowledge Network ( as a place to start and see what support is available. Particularly if any of your ideas and innovations are patentable.

    I've found that in the UK, if your idea can be brought to prototype for less than £25,000 that the barrier to entry is too low (and actually not risky enough for most grants) and its generally assumed the inventor can/should raise the funds themselves and then licence to a manufacturer

    BUT if your idea needs six figures to get to prototype, it can be patented, create UK jobs and boost UK GDP, there are a lot more funding and support options available.

    Best of luck
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Lee Oakley Member since: May 21, 2018
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  9. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    LOL - you need to look around at the UK design scene.
    Plenty of stuff coming out of the UK, both new and improvements.

    I didn't study electronics at university, the subject I did study has no bearing on what I have produced or designed.
    Lots of research can be done outside universities.

    Came up with a product that once all legal aspects are sorted should do well with the very small market for the items. One basic, one deluxe with 2 slightly different USPs and aimed at 2 particular markets plus a collectors market eventually.

    I've other stuff in early design phase that are 5 years or more from market. If they make it that far.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  10. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thank you. Now I know where to start searching for information.
    Are you still working on it? Do you have any advice for a newbie like me?

    I totally understand you. 90 % of skills needed for my projects come from internet, books and friends.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  11. NickGrogan

    NickGrogan UKBF Ace Free Member

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    There is plenty of innovation going on, in the UK and across the West. Its not all in one place though, so looking for a forum isn't going to help much. For example there is innovation in energy distribution, smart grids and so on - I know about it because I work in Energy, but its not really in the public eye.

    What areas are you interested in?

    Reading your posts, you seem to want an idea, a support forum, training, funding and a mentor - what are you bringing to the table?
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: NickGrogan Member since: Nov 15, 2012
  12. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1
    I want to learn about creating product and bringing it to the market. Of course I can read articles and books, but I belive that the best learning is practise. I want to take part in this process, find a mentor or find a generous person who can invest in my researches and projects I'm talking about small sums (up to a 1000 usd depending on the project). Some projects might cost just 10-20 usd. I make my projects buying components from my own money and after building it most of the times I just take all the parts back to save as much money, as possible. It would be wonderful to find a person who can pay for the components needed and in exchange I would send the prototype. When I'm making devices for my self I make them poorly, because I'm not a needy person. When someone asks for the prototype I make it as good as possible, so I believe to learn as fast as possible I have to make devices for other people and find some little investments so I won't have to worry about the project's cost and my abilities to pay for these expenses.
    After creating prototype worth attention I would be able to expect bringing it to the market. But for now I have to concentrate in building prototypes and ideas, I believe.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  13. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Funding at that small level is easy.
    Family & friends. Heck, even crowdfunding if the idea is good enough.

    Yes, building then reusing in another project is very common - some stuff may be reused in dozens of projects that never go to market. Sometimes its simply worth figuring out what works and what doesn't.

    Its worth learning to apply the same habits to your work no matter who its for.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  14. NickGrogan

    NickGrogan UKBF Ace Free Member

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    So you don't really need funding do you. $10-20 or even $1000 is easy to save up.

    as @Mr D has mentioned, all your work needs to be to a high standard, even if its only for you - its easy to get into bad habits.

    You haven't mentioned what you're interested in.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: NickGrogan Member since: Nov 15, 2012
  15. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1
    Thank you. I was thinking from a different perspective. All my time spent on educational projects distorted my understanding of "invention" or "innovation" (you probably won't understand :D). Now I know in which direction I should go. And you gave me knowledge about acquiring small and huge investments.
    It's crazy that I asked one thing and understood that problem is in completely different field and it's easily solvable. It probably doesn't make any sense to you, but you helped me a lot. I was looking at everything from another angle.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  16. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I think that's a good lesson to learn : often, one is asking the wrong question, or not asking the right questions. Good attitude will overcome that problem.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
  17. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I find this thread interesting. And yes, I agree with the OP, there is a lack of innovation in many aspects of UK industry. The lack of science and technology graduates in the UK is truly alarming.

    Another aspect of this lack of innovation is the lack of desire to change the ways things are done. This is esp. true in the UK building trade, where the materials and methods used are geared towards a low wage environment. If you don't believe this, try automating the insertion of UK power sockets in a new build!

    Why bother innovating to boost productivity, when we can just throw some more low-wage, low-skilled bodies at the task!

    I do see many small companies in the UK innovating, but the acute lack of venture capital - and more to the point, the acute lack of adventurous capital - means that they struggle, whereas US and German high-tech companies get investments aplenty. Places like MIT and the Berlin Mathematical School spin-out amazing and extremely innovative companies that attract investment money. The same is still true to some extent for Cambridge, but the differences in scale are noticeable.

    One of the problems that UK start-ups face, is not only the lack of funky young investment fund managers willing to risk a few million on a hunch, but a almost total lack of a clear pathway to developing a company. Again and again, I see people posting here who have started companies, yet are completely clueless! And it is not their fault.

    The educational infrastructure to becoming a trained business person is lacking. There are no US-style community colleges offering courses in how to run a company or do the bookkeeping. The qualified electrician or brickie, engineer or shopkeeper does not have to spend a year learning how to run a business. This lack of basic knowledge leads to poor performance, lower profits and less room for innovation.

    The other huge barrier to innovation is the high level of company debt. Debt makes companies risk-adverse and therefore unwilling to run the risk of innovating.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  18. Paul172

    Paul172 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1

    It's not only UK. The same pattern is also in the other countries in Europe. As a student I can see a huge hype in economy, finance, civil engineering and computer science. My friend is studying economy and we talked about the state of our economy, financial crisis possibilities and so on. And it was that feeling "he doesn't know that he's talking about", it's easy to feel that when most of the statments are without any arguments, or when I asked him to explain something in more details, he had little success. He told me himself that he have no idea how use that material learned in the university. Same here in electronics engineering, if not my own ambitions and will to learn I wouldn't be able to solder or make even the most simple devices. Our educational system is old and ineffective. Students have no idea what they are learning or how to use it. Only ambitious people can really learn and try to create something succesful. Majority of students playing video games, spending time in social media or jus looking at memes. It's easy to fall in this life, because it's hard to find use in the studies. I believe that your mentioned cluelessness in business and innovation had started here, in schools and universities.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Paul172 Member since: Jan 3, 2019
  19. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I think you will find that has more to do with your friend and the level of knowledge he will have at interim. mid-study level, than with the subject of economics. There are aspects and topics in economics that are both difficult to understand at an intellectual level and to calculate when at the rock-face.

    Politicians are notorious for getting 'the wrong end of the stick' in such topics and doing and saying the precise opposite of well-established economic principles. If in doubt, just look-up 'Economic Fallacies' and start with 'The Austerity Delusion'.

    Yes, that's right - for the past 10 years, the entire UK economy and people have been subjected to economic policies based on gross misunderstanding and a delusion!

    I once (some time ago) wasted some time talking to a government minister with special responsibility for the environment. This person actually claimed that excess wind power from Scotland could be exported to such places as Southern Germany. When I said that would be against several laws, he got quite agitated and wanted to know which laws I am talking about.

    "Well, there's Jules Law, Ohm's Law and the Laws of Induction just for starters!" I said.

    So you see that society is being lead by people who have no understanding of economics, technology or even the needs of business.

    A great deal depends on the quality of the university and the overall quality expected of the students. There is a giant and insurmountable difference between economics at Cambridge, LSE, etc. and the Wysuckie College for the Totally Dumb (formerly called Bogwater Polytechnic).

    I can point you at a so-called university here in the UK, that require applicants to have one A-Level, grade D or better, or equivalent life experience. That is not a joke - such an institute, requiring just one bad A-Level really exists! On one course, all their students failed their interim exams and the course had to be closed - and that happened two years in a row!

    We had one intern come to us with a freshly baked BSc., who could neither solder, nor even read a circuit diagram. Needless to say, he came from a former polytechnic and we now bin any CVs coming from graduates of that kind of place.

    We had a visiting lecturer from one place (another former polytechnic) who was lecturing in a media technology subject, who didn't understand decibels or how an analogue filter works. I'd hate to think what the reaction would have been, had I quizzed him on Nyquist Theorem!

    But regardless of how bright or stupid your lecturers and profs might be, your task right now is to milk as much knowledge out of them and the system as you can - but take it all with a pinch of salt!

    More importantly, develop your own projects. They will count for far more in later life, than whether you can do an RMS calculation in your head and without moving your lips! I know one young girl (IT grad) who got a really great job with IBM in Stuttgart (a job dozens and dozens were after!) because she wrote in her CV that she had written a test protocol for Hewlett-Packard during her internship there, that was then sold to customers.

    That sort of thing counts for a great deal more than pass marks in some test!
    Posted: Jan 11, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  20. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Posted: Jan 11, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009