Business internet

Is The UK An Innovation Backwater?

I’m sure this is a subject that has raised its head on many occasion over the past decade or two. It struck me this morning that all the futuristic development work that I am looking at is based on technologies and services that have originated outside the UK.

In particular Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Digg it Yahoo, Google etc etc etc are all North American inventions. The one British equivalent that springs to mind is Friends Reunited which looks as if it has missed the boat big time on the social networking opportunity yet it was probably the first in the space. Certainly I never used it seriously because there was a subscription cost.

Not only is the innovation in the USA but all the conferences that you might want to go to to network and discuss innovation are in the USA. I used to work for a company that had offices in San Jose and when visiting could always sense the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that pervaded the whole community. 

Now it is true that due to the nature of the internet and thanks indeed to the ability to communicate and innovate that web2.0 has brought (bit of a generalisation I know) the world is a lot smaller. However there still lacks the forum outside of the USA for getting together with like minded people to discuss and progress.  Jeff Pulver’s “Breakfasts” are a good start and I will be attending the one in London on January 28th.

I periodically hold a “Friday Lunchtime Session” in the office at Timico HQ where innovation is discussed. If there are any like minded people in the UK who want to get together on a periodic basis to discuss innovation, technology, Social Networking, Web2.0 et al please get in touch.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

2 replies on “Is The UK An Innovation Backwater?”

Friends Reunited made sense for people of my generation who didn’t have computers or email when they left school (in my case in the 1980s), but why would today’s school/university leavers need it? They have all their friends enrolled on Myspace/Facebook/Bebo etc. The problem for Friends United is perhaps not the charging model, but just having access to any customers in the long run…

I completely agree with you Martyn. I guess my point was that the charging model was where they went wrong. Were it a free service from the start they would probably have had the critical mass of users and be up there with the Facebooks of this world.

You can’t blame the founders. They made a nice packet out of it. They just missed out on making a bigger longer term impact I think. When they were doing it they didn’t have the hindsight of seeing the growth rates of other vehicles.

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