Monthly Archives: May 2008

“Do you want fries with that?” innovation in the service industries

A new report from NESTA Taking Services Seriously sets out a few ideas on why (some) service industries innovate and most don’t. As we are a service economy (75% of the UK GDP) the concentration on manufacturing R&D has always slightly concerned me – yes we need to develop high value leading edge physical products but where is the future economy going to be built in added value terms?

The exec summary is pretty clear about why this report is needed now:

“Policy could have an important role in stimulating innovation in services. However, policymakers have lacked robust evidence showing how these sectors innovate. Drawing on a survey of more than 16,000 firms, this research reveals the high levels of ‘hidden innovation’ in some services sectors, especially in how they develop new business models and exploit technology. But the research also reveals that innovation is confined to a minority of service firms, and that many lack the skilled personnel or intelligence on markets and technology that would enable them to become more innovative.

Because of their dominance in the economy, improved performance by the UK’s services sectors is necessary if we are to significantly close the productivity gap between the UK and other leading nations. However, if we are to take innovation in services seriously, we must recognise that they innovate differently from advanced manufacturing. We need policies to support increased training and development, and the effective dissemination and exploitation of technology.

At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, thank god someone is saying this so we can point to it and internally lobby, cajole and encourage real support for innovation through better processes and sharper thinking.



Who Killed The Electric Car Movie?

Although it came out in 2006 I have just seen “Who Killed The Electric Car” on DVD, which sets out to tell the tale of those few strange years when GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota “tried” to comply with the strict pollution rules (Zero Vehicle Emissions Mandate) being enacted by the State of California CARB (pre Arnie in the 1990s). The story may not be well known over here, particularly the EV1, although we did see Ford trying the Think concept in 2001 in Britain, which only lasted a year (now the UK original website has been pulled - but the new norwegian version suggests a revival).

Now its down to the EV1 fan club to keep the memory of the US experiment alive.

 GMs excuse is here – no, not sure I believe it either.

The sub text, particularly the (Bush) message that technology will be the answer and the backing given to fuel cell vehicles, is even more telling a couple of years later…

Is it me being paranoid or did the film disappear quickly off the radar because its an esoteric interest or because big advertisers didn’t want it to be seen on TV – I think its not been on terrestial TV in the UK, yet, for example, when a lot of 2006 movies have been – and its hardly minority viewing if docs by Al Gore, Michael Moore & Morgan Spurlock get aired?

Great voiceover by Martin Sheen, BTW.

So message to all of the petrolheads out there – that means you Dave – time to watch this movie.