Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Year. New Opportunities.

It was a good long run, and I gave it my best shot, but a hurdle has been stumbled over.

Sadly, my hopes for Stage 2 funding on the Fillip initiative have not been realised. Of course it was great to get to the finals, but it was not to be.

And not the happiest of news to get just before the festive break.

I guess it was just one I felt was so 'right', namely the means to protect the idea and package it in a form to take to major institutions nationally and internationally, my inherent 'wait 'til you see the cheque before popping the cork' caution still had too much of a sneaking hope that this would be 'the big one' attached. Especially as the day before we'd learned that the international search examiner has concluded that the invention is 'novel' and 'not obvious', which is good in IP terms.

Though my IP adviser was upbeat, I must say I walked out the presentation pretty much certain of the result.

There was one question that was asked, and though I know the answer we gave was reasonable I knew it was not the one that was required.

This was to ask why, in light of all the PR and awards, there were no companies or VCs beating a path to my door.

Though not given in such terms, it seemed pretty simple to answer. As of this moment, no companies relevant to the concept have yet been approached, save for the technical folk at closures manufacturers. And this was done more to confirm the practical applicability, and also to seek complementary branding techniques to add sales and marketing value to its obvious raw material and CSR benefits. Both these aims were achieved at the Brussels conference, and frankly as no one thinks much of anything from late November save the best way to Xerox their tushie at the company bash, I saw no point in following even that up 'til the New Year.

And as to VCs, well, it's not an area I have a huge experience with, but other than a few rare instances, I rather think that you go to them. That's just the way it is. Being money folk they know how you keep the upper hand in negotiations, and making the first approach isn't it.

So I had concentrated on looking down the idea and building a solid story behind it using the talents I do have, before considering engaging other talents I know I do not to bring it to those who bring it to market.

Sure I am more than disappointed, and this is doubtless reflected here, but I must say that I am really losing faith in the system that claims to be keen to support the solo creative innovator, but all too often seems more geared to dealing with more traditional enterprises who talk in terms that make the boxes a wee bit easier to tick.

I know RE:tie can make it. And in doing so be an acorn from which so much else in the world of second use design can derive inspiration, so it will be be onward and upward come the New Year.

As one door closes, another opens...

Perhaps she simply doesn't like them?

This is a bit of an odd one, but it has quite amused me. The International Herald Tribune reports on a Swiss lady who has been purloining her neighbour's outside Christmas ornaments.

Now I have no problem with a few fancy Christmas lights etc. But if, like me, she simply detests those unsightly and horrible brightly light inflatable snowmen, reindeer, Father Christmases and elves (and even Homer Simpson's for Gawd's sake) that seem to have proliferated across the UK over the last two or three years (as well as across Switzerland by the sound of it), then I'm happy to admit that I'm fully on her side!!

The Bush giveth and the Bush taketh away

Well, I'm amazed. Despite the doubts expressed by millions of American citizens, Dubya has finally signed a bill which will help to reduce vehicle carbon emissions - see today's Guardian Unlimited.

"The legislation, though limited in scope, represents the biggest fuel efficiency push by the US since the 1970s oil crisis."


"The new law also contains provisions to increase the use of ethanol as an alternative to petrol."

Errrrmm, not really too good - more corn grown means ever more Nitrogen runoff and will expand the Gulf's 'dead zone', not to mention causing further increases in the price of what is a staple food item. (see full story from Mathaba.Net)

But even more interestingly, on the same day, comes news that the White House, via the EPA, has blocked several States from applying even more vigorous local state laws on auto emissions. This makes zero sense whatsoever!
The Washington Post has a more complete explanation of the EPA's ruling.

Xmas cheer

Well, it tickled me. A poster on an eco-forum asked the following about 'carbcon ratings':

I notice that the terms ‘carbon positive’ and ‘carbon negative’ are being used to mean the same thing (i.e. net absorption/reduction of CO2). Those using the term ‘carbon negative’ seem to be clear that ‘carbon positive’ is what fossil fuels are...

If we want to create a company that goes better than ‘carbon neutral’, how should we describe it? And does anyone know whether the understanding of these terms varies by geography? (e.g. US vs Europe vs Asia)

I was moved to reply:

How about 'carbon cautious'?

It ticks all the right boxes (a major plus already, at least in the UK/EU), being rather meaningless, pretty vague and in fact can be whatever anyone wishes to take from it.

Certainly an entire new industry and set of government departments could easily be created around it on this basis, especially in complement to all the rest doing roughly the same thing. In fact, one could probably score a nifty grant for it all. Especially to translate it all into Mandarin or Urdu come the next Kyoto/Bali round.

That aside, it may actually be a tad more accurate. At least it could be argued to not make any definitive claims (which in any case are often hard to weigh, at least on a consumer level. I have often cocked an eyebrow at some claims of 'positivity', as most new activities are almost inevitably worse in terms of enviROI (which is what I apply) unless directly creating some purely mitigating result) whilst conveying a truly warm and fuzzy sense of at least wanting to do the right thing.

However, as your question has ably demonstrated, a positive can as easily be a negative. So I look forward to how those better informed will explain it to us all. But then it would seem equally inevitable that it will all rather depend on which measure they have been tasked to endorse.

Government (or an unreasonable facsimile of) by degree

'Insidious' is not a nice word. But by heck it is apt for what seems to be happening these days.

Hardly a BBC bulletin goes by without the latest 'could' being trotted out from those who claim the responsibility of governing us, but who will seek any and all ways to avoid any accountability, from announcement through to consequences.

Hence this 'could' will ooze into an 'is' and end up as a 'has', with little or no challenge from anyone, most especially our lazy media.

Just this morning I sat amazed as just two were dutifully trotted out, with the sofa set primed with just the right balance of warm and fuzzy to ease things in.

First up was the latest on mobile phones. I've blogged on this before. If it's illegal, then fine (and I don't mean that in the fiscal manner, as too much law seems to be revenue targeted than spirit or even letter of the law), I know where I stand. But now there seems to be yet another, and predictably more aggressive, though equally vague set of ways to hold 'us' accountable for something or other at the whim of a police officer, supported by a compliant justice system.

Then there was middle-age drinking. It seems that if you go over a daily 105ml daily, you are a raving alcky bent on self-destruction. Now this would be laughable but for the less than subtle between-lines message read out by a truly frighteningly smooth government spokeslady (she had a sense of humour and so charmingly trotted out her facts that even the already pliant blonde and bouffant felt it rude to do anything else but giggle). And this seems to be that if you can even remotely be deemed to have done something in your history that may or may not be proven to be in any way due to lifestyle choices, then 'they' can decide to opt you out of the health system you have paid into all your life.

There is a sickening predictability to all this, along with inevitability.

And what really gets me is that the vagueness seems only to work one way. By being guilty until proven innocent the doors are opened for institutional abuse at every level and across every branch.

And it all seems dedicated to one simple aim, and that is to divert money away from those who work hard and pay their way (because all those who do not will be exceptions to such rules, though withdrawing votes on the basis of self-harm, poor lifestyle, non-contribution, etc would not seem on the cards) to ensure a ready supply of the dwindling cash resources to ensure this bunch of breeding parasites keep their pay, bonuses (what the heck are a raft of government types on bonuses for?) and pensions.

Sorry, today has not been a much better day than yesterday.