There is no clear pattern. No forecast of confidence. No clarity on the horizon, other than rising taxes and 20 per cent VAT charges.
Outside our shores, Japan faces its massive tragedy, and the fiscal uncertainty of the past few years is revealing itself in chaos and rage across North Africa, and volatility in oil and commodity prices. The consequence is an on-going impact on European and US market uncertainty.
In such times, it falls upon companies, or anyone in fact, to help set the agenda. The recent budget saw the Chancellor hoping for a British revival, encouragingly setting the Enterprise Investment Scheme and research and development credit incentives, and calling for growth in design, invention and creativity, which is ‘Made in Britain. Exported by Britain’.
Let’s face it. Made in Britain is a challenge. Sadly, it frequently costs less than the VAT charge alone to make tools and products offshore. The economics of local mass production simply don’t add up.
We’re much better making virtual assets such as ‘information flow’, intellectual property (IP), legal services, songs, television content or journalism. This is the British Talent. We can make it, and Simon Cowell can sell it.
Also, as a nation we still lack the rapid finance and capital availability to actually build physical things or take risks creating companies.
As an inventor myself (owning a small university output worth of granted US patents) we currently see licensing potential world-winning IP on multi-touch, flexible screen tablet type devices as a growth area. So we have put a portfolio of IP rights up for sale to focus on our energy technology.
With ICAP Ocean Tomo recently selling a patent license for $35m in New York last week, it seems that the market place for intellectual property is hotting up, setting the agenda for the next wave of competitive differentiation. Such growing marketplaces are likely to benefit the UK and it’s raw island nation survival creative DNA.
Whilst technology is invented here, brands and markets are made internationally. Last month Moixa spoke at a Nasdaq ‘Next Great Consumer Brands’ showcase hosted by Consensus Advisors alongside another UK company Temperley London. An event made easier by being held on St Patrick’s Day in New York, so it became a rather jolly affair.
Perhaps it was the surroundings, the contrast of the green crowds or beer flotilla surrounding Times Square, and the red and green live screens within Nasdaq, or the challenges in crossing through the crowds to meet various banks and advisors, but momentum is definitely back. People are making decisions, buying, M&A, changing policies, buying IP, launching companies, brands. There is a buzz.
We feel a good buzz about energy and our technology, usefully backed by government Technology Strategy Board research grants in the absence of ready cash from investors. Energy is something the market, consumers and government worry about, and the planet suffers from. This is perhaps the area that could deliver on George Osborne’s ‘GO Britain’ aspiration.
So it’s now time for the British tortoise to join in the race and perhaps cleantech is the one to aim to win. Along, no doubt with tourism, with a Royal wedding, Easter, and the Olympics ahead, these are times for rolling back the red-tape and the deficit, and rolling out the red-carpets.
It’s time to be proud of what Britain stands for and is actually good at.