Governments and Dragons' Dens: take your pick
By Hamish Champ
Posted 6 July 2012
I mentioned in my last blog post that I’d attended the recent Student Design Innovation in Plastics award ceremony, and jolly good it was too.
What I didn’t mention in that piece was the contribution of Rob Law, inventor of the Trunki ‘ride-on’ suitcase.
Law gave a keynote speech before the prize-giving in which he revealed his journey from award-winning design student – he won the Design Innovation in Plastics back in 1998 – to running a business that makes things out of plastic in the UK and sells them all over the world.
The eventual winner of this year's award, Jamie Mansfield, said he wanted to be as successful as Law and found his speech "inspirational".
I too found his presentation fascinating, particularly the clip he showed of his appearance on BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’, when the bloke and his plastic suitcase were torn apart – the former metaphorically, the latter almost literally – by the ‘dragons'.
I know it was all for TV but the rudeness of one ‘dragon’ in particular made me want to punch him.
Anyway, luckily Law’s mauling didn’t deter him and he subsequently got on with his business, and very well it seems to be doing too.
Which brings me to my main point; Law commented on the number of hours he spent ringing round various trade development organisations and government departments in the early years of his endeavours, trying to elicit interest and development funds for his project.
He didn’t succeed, which prompted him to say this: that the government of the day may well talk up manufacturing – and small businesses in the UK – and will often say how much it is prepared to step in and support it.
But his own experience of such dealings? He made the gesture of a hand puppeteer with no puppet making like it was talking. So much yap-yap, and nothing else to show for it.
Governments aren’t duty bound to support commercial, particularly private enterprise. And in some cases there are some very diligent people doing their best to improve UK manufacturing's chances in the Big Wide World.
But there is no point talking about being supportive and then not coming up with the goods. That’s just plain daft…
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