Editor's View

The onward march of innovation

Feb 08 issue

Nokia used to make rubber boots. Admittedly, that was a century ago and, back then, a rubber works in Finland was probably as cutting edge as anything used to produce the latest phone.

The company has grown to the global giant it is today through innovation, a refusal to stand still, which is what keeps every company fresh, competitive and different.

‘Businesses survive on change,’ says Felix Velarde, the founder of eCRM specialist Underwired. ‘To grow value you have to innovate and every so often have a bit of a shake up.’

Now is a great time for mavericks and loose cannons to prosper as new markets, such as those created through disruptive technology, are uncorrelated to the performance of the public markets.

Both Skype and Betfair were founded at the nadir of the IT recession. It’s a fact not lost on US venture capital firms as they increasingly wake up to Europe’s talent and set up new offices – mostly in Geneva.

Simon Cook, the English CEO of VC firm DFJ Esprit, observes that the iPhone was heralded as last year’s symbol of Silicon Valley’s originality and brilliance, but the bulk of the technology that made it work, such as the Bluetooth chips, audio facility, screen, and even the processors, came from Europe.

Interesting times
Contrary to the doom and gloom in the business pages of the press, there is plenty of excitement among the great and the good in our Power Top 50. These individuals, who have millions to invest in smart entrepreneurs, are eulogising about cleantech, biotech, the internet and consumer electronics. Nearly all of them want a business to be scaled globally. Thinking in terms of national boundaries won’t tick their boxes.

If your business is bold enough to match their expectations, the money is there to be invested – lots of it.