The Yanks are much better than the Brits at understanding that governments can’t do much that is useful.
Which is why Qualcomm’s offer of a $10 million prize for anyone who invents a Tricorder – the self-diagnostic tool used in Star Trek – is so much a better way of stimulating innovation than the usual UK government innovation initiatives.
The current government says it’s very keen on innovation. But its ways of promoting innovation are to allocate money, appoint experts, put money up for a building and staff it with bureaucrats, establish committees, fund VCs, seed Science Parks etc.
It wasn’t always like this. Back in 1714 the British government offered £20,000 to anyone who could invent a way of establishing longitude after six weeks at sea.
Out of the blue came a poorly educated Yorkshire clock-maker, John Harrison, who delivered the invention.
Innovation comes from someone’s brain – you can’t predict whose brain – so it’s better to put the money up for grabs by whoever can do the bizzo.
So c’mon you government guys – let’s see some progressive 18th century thinking here and some substantial prizes for new inventions.
A couple which come to mind are a carbon-based IC and a roll-up display.
₤20 million apiece should do the trick.