Monday, 27 June 2011

Episode 2 of BBC TV's Made in Britain focussed on the value chain - basically invention/innovation, manufacture, marketing and branding.

Value is a euphemism for price or money. The real value to you of a GSK pharmaceutical is whether it makes you well. The "value" to them is the money they get from selling the product. A direct conflict of interest. I'm not saying they want you to be ill, only that ot pays them if you buy their drugs.

Presenter Evan Davies was also in a supermarket (probably Tesco) and he pointed out his "favourite" bottled water. He claimed that people who are drawn to branding are 'sophisticated' (his show was really a meta commercial). What is sophisticated about branding water and selling it at a high proce, where elsewhere in the world people are walking miles to get hold of the stuff, or dying because they can't get any potable water?

Evan also featured Silicon Fen, where Cambridge braniacs work on high tech designs. He featured ARM, who design chips for all kinds of devices - especially mobile phones. They don't make them, they just design them and sell the right to make them. Clever and impressive, but this clustering of cleverness done at regional or even national level needs to be taken up to world level. Why is it good to collaborate in Cambridge, but to compete at national level?

The rest of value should be how well something adds to human well being, not just to the bank balance. If you can make a lower energy use, small, powerful chip, logic dictates you tell everyone how to do it, so that the planet can benefit, not that you keep it to yourself so you can make money. A more potent example would be an invention that halted global warming. It would be imperative to scale it up and implement it world wide, not to patent it and keep it to yourself to make money while the world fries.


  1. I truly believe it is thinking like this, this perpetual belief that we must move on from the mundane, from manufacturing simple everyday products and 'develop' an intellegencia workforce.

    I saw the 'branded' water and thought of a project just trying to get water from point A to point B in Africa. Roll out the barrel org.

    I have just bought in a load of goods from China. Quality, reasonable but some errors and issues which due to time and distance are so hard to sort and clarify and frankly at the end of the day they have the whip hand (and my money). Tried all day to find a UK mmanufacturer but everything always leads back to China or Asia including raw materials, even packaging. Evan should be seriously looking at how small independent businessmen with a few thousand quid and a good idea can reinvigorate the economy with small manuifacturing units for products we probably don't even need but which can be sold in the marketing eutopia he tells us exists. Sell our products not theirs. My son, with no qualifications and little hope of a job in the near future can't live on other people intellectual property rights. Bring manufacturing back to UK befor someone else in Europe does, the Turkish possibly. Back to basics is really the message from the ground up to provide meaningful work. All the service industries in the world will not feed the nation or balance the books.......

  2. I was very cross when I saw the overview of GSK on the show. It would have been nice if our Evan had gone to China to see all the labs that GSK have outsourced their drug discovery work to at third parties such as WuXi Pharmatech in Shanghai. They have grown to 3000 plus people in the last 6 years as many UK and US based sites have been closed, such as the GSK site in Harlow. I don't think that Andrew Witty said anything untrue, rather he led us to believe that GSK were more active in research in UK than they are. They don't do a lot here anymore. It's almost all in China, as is the work of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and many more.

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  5. It annoyed me with evan davis's assesmnt of the new building in london, was it called the wedge? A chinese owned hotel is on the 10th floor... But thats ok, we'll get 20% in tax and we'll be able to sell them accountancy and other services... Say another 10%. Maybe its just me, or does no one else see the fact that 70% remaining is then going back into the chinese economy as opoosed to the british if it was a british owned and run business? Yes, we're good at making money for nothing, but at what price do we sell ourselves out?

  6. The simple fact is, it is no good earning money on one hand to pay it out on the other.
    The service industry is no good without a manufacturing industry the same size or bigger.
    Jim Callahan was right in theory. what done us in, was the micro chip in the early eighties, this cut the manufacturing down over 75% in this country. The only thing they could not take, sraight away, was the high end, and the manual skill end of the market. We are now twenty years on, and probably eroding that away.
    The way to bring britain back, is to manufacture here instead of buying in.
    Right thats enough! I am off in my Nissan to get a Chinees, whistling Land of hope and Glory-- --- ---

  7. In the belief that we still have bright people in the UK, does anyone have any concrete ideas of how we might start doing something ourselves about resurrecting British manufacturing? Perhaps those who are interested might start brainstorming some promising concepts?

  8. Severn Barrage the most efficient energy source possible. The science and maths are indisputable
    The only alternative energy source that one can accurately guarantee for every day in perpetuity. The Energy source is actually the moon. Get an energy source like that harnesed, and satellite industry will come running. Apart from ,maintenance costs , you could set the electricity price for 50 years forward. that could be attractive to heavy users enough to locate around the project.