Leaders July 2015

A nation of innovators

Britain leads in cutting-edge technology

The car on this issue’s cover could easily be considered a prop from the set of one of tens of futuristic films that project what life might be like in 2025 or 2050. Yet, this electric-powered, driverless vehicle is to undergo trials on British footpaths within weeks—and Japan is keen to learn the knowhow behind it.

Developed by the Transport Systems Catapult, the pod was one of a number of revolutionary ideas from Britain that attracted attention at the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan congress and exhibition in May. It is further proof of how the UK is leading the world in low-carbon vehicles.

For the event, Innovate UK supported seven firms in the development of their technologies, which representatives showcased to a warm welcome from their Japanese counterparts. While aiming to spark business interest and collaboration, the agency—along with other organisations—promoted the UK as a location for inward investment in the area of low-carbon vehicles.

Innovation special

It is fitting that this special issue on innovation should be prefaced by a message, from British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO, highlighting the government’s Innovation is GREAT campaign and its exhibits displayed as part of the celebrations at the Queen’s birthday party on 11 June. A showcase of images from the event can also be found on our community pages.

Not only does the UK have entrepreneurial role models, but it also has world-class universities and a wealth of firms at the cutting edge of science and technology developments. Last month Belfast-based firm DisplayNote Technologies signed a deal that will bring its software-sharing technology to more than 1mn computer users in Japan.

Britons are also breaking new ground across all sectors. One such person is Matthew Broadway, the chief operating officer of high-tech firm Netatmo, who launched the first face-recognition home video camera in Japan earlier this month. Having previously worked in Tokyo for Dyson K.K., Broadway’s experience of innovation, and knowledge that the Japanese are early adopters, has put him on solid ground to help this revolutionary product find success in the Japanese market.

Defence market prospects

This issue does not solely focus on British innovation. MAST Asia, Japan’s first international defence exhibition, was held in Yokohama in May. Representatives of UK firms and organisations at the event were pleasantly surprised by the interest in their products and services, and expressed hope for the blossoming of a fruitful mutual relationship in this new market.

Good luck!

Finally, best wishes to Sue Kinoshita, who is leaving Japan after five years as director of UK Trade & Investment. While preparing for departure, she penned a message to BCCJ ACUMEN readers.