Michael Wallis
Founder / Creative Director
@11:00, 23.01.2024

Ok this is my ‘go big or go home’ moment.
I read Rachel Reeve’s ‘New Business Model for Britain’ and thought I’d have a go at creating a simple tool or diagram that will help Britain be more inventive - that anyone can pick up and use to move an idea forward.

Because too much innovation is clustered around Cambridge, Oxford and London and ‘Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not.’ 

Why me?
For 25+ years I’ve been helping people solve problems and invent new businesses and places. I’m in the room because I simplify, condense and communicate concepts really well. For innovative organisations like Brompton Bikes, Doctor Martens and Harwell Oxford and start ups like Opteran, Generation Home and Exo.

First step
I’m going to ask inventive people: What makes you inventive? What ingredients make a place inventive? What does an inventive culture look like? I’ll ask them to challenge and improve my thinking. As the work evolves I’ll share it.

Here’s my open letter to Rachel Reeves.

Dear Rachel Reeves:

I read your New Business Model for Britain and want to help you make Britain more inventive.

I think this passage is the heart of it: ‘The economists Raj Chetty, John Van Reenen and their colleagues have shown that children growing up in areas with less economic prosperity are far less likely to become inventors. Inventors and entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth. The squandered potential of Britain’s lost Einstein's and Marie Curies leaves us poorer.’

It reminded me of the quote, ‘talent is everywhere, opportunity is not.’ Britain was and could again be an inventiveness superpower. To get the wheels turning we need to:

— find and inspire inventive people
— create inventive places for them to work
— nurture an inventive culture that celebrates their output

All working together, this creates an inventive nation. (Fig 1.) And it needs to happen more evenly across the country - not concentrated around Cambridge, London and Oxford. 

Imagine a doordrop, that shows someone how to lay out and describe their invention. Imagine there’s a place (a physical or digital community) where they can take their invention and find the support they need to stress test it. And imagine a culture that celebrated and rewarded inventiveness (like we do footballers) - a lottery funded Dragon’s Den where inventors from all over the country present their ideas and we get to vote on who gets a Million £s to take it forward. Why not? It’s all relatively cheap to do. Millions not billions. And it’s a very visible demonstration of you delivering on your promise. 

I’m lucky
If I have an idea, I know where to go, who to talk to. I can fill out a SWOT, or a business model canvas. I know my way around a Boston Grid. I’ve got mates who can show me how to use AI to do some quick and dirty market research. I want anyone with half an idea, anywhere in the country - to have this knowledge. That way the next Einstein or Curie won’t fall through the net.

I’ll write back at the end of March
Meanwhile I’ll be speaking to people I know - developers and architects; TV producers manufacturers and entrepreneurs; investors; deep tech and fin tech start ups - about their failures and successes, what made them invent new things who they needed around them. 
I’ll keep updating and refining my thinking. I don’t expect it to go exactly to plan. I'll be a bit disappointed if it does. But what I will deliver is some interesting insights (better than ChatGPT can scrape together) into what you need (the rational and emotional resources, pitfalls, solutions and tools) to help more people INVENT. 

Michael Wallis