There is something wonderful about a really new and innovative idea that breaks new ground and is clearly going to improve quality of life. Perhaps I'm weird but these things bring a big grin to my face.
I haven't stopped grinning since I first read about the The Hiriko Mobility Project, in the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) magazine. I've been showing to everybody who will humour me.
Last Friday, I attended the Design Innovation in Plastics Award Ceremony, for which I had been a judge. Established in 1985 the Awards are the longest running student plastic competition in Europe.
27 Mar 2012
Am I missing something?
David Cameron says that for economic growth we need to bring manufacturing back into the UK and that, to support this, we need more engineers.
Research done by Semta, the engineering skills council, shows that over the next four years, the UK will need 96,300 new engineers and scientists just to replace those who are retiring, let alone to grow the manufacturing sector.
So, you would think that everything would be being done to encourage young people into engineering – but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Just last month the UK Government downgraded the engineering diploma from the equivalent of five GCSEs … to one. How does that help?
For many children, studying Design and Technology in school is the first taste they will have of engineering. It is the only subject in the curriculum that provides the opportunity to combine practical and technological skills with creative thinking and problem solving – all skills relevant to engineering.
I recently met Design and Technology students at Fulham Cross Girls School. They showed me their projects, which displayed immense talent and a professional approach. Here, I thought, are the designers, engineers and entrepreneurs of the future.
But the core curriculum status of Design and Technology is under threat. As a result, students are discouraged from pursuing it at A level and beyond.
One UK initiative recently announced that will help promote engineering, is the Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting one of the organisers. I am passionate about raising awareness of the importance of engineering and I will publicly voice my support for this brilliant initiative.
It is hoped that the UK will become internationally recognised as home to the equivalent of the Nobel Prize – for engineering. This should help to change the perception of engineering in Britain. But that is quite a challenge.
In the UK engineers are often regarded as mechanics with greasy rags, whereas in Germany and in Japan, for example, they command the highest respect. Unless we value, respect and properly reward our engineers, the bright young things that leave our universities will continue to head for the City, the finance sector and the well paid professions – not to careers in engineering or manufacturing.
Mr Cameron, we need to see some joined up thinking please.
If you want manufacturing to return to the UK, you need to nurture the budding engineers and product designers of the future.
This is the new me.
I’ve kept my trademark glasses and magenta hair, slimmed down for 2012 and put on my best pencil skirt and stilettos.
Don’t be fooled. I’m just smartening up my avatar (the movable icon which represents me in cyberspace and virtual reality graphics), that’s all.
It doesn’t mean I’m not still small and cuddly in the real world.
17 Oct 2011
I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the horrors of some early baby bottle designs. Well, the ‘Banjo’bottle was a mass murderer! Amazingly, in recent years, I’ve twice been approached by inventors touting very similar ideas!
In the late 1800’s ‘Banjo’ shaped infant feeders were introduced to the marketplace. The latter day nicknames of 'The killer' and the 'The murderer' were, however, far more apt as the ‘Banjo’ was impossible to clean and hygiene was a joke.
Banjo bottles typically had a flattened glass bottle with an integral glass tube and stopper. Attached to the glass tube there was a length of Indian rubber tubing, which ended with a bone mouth shield and a rubber teat so, as you can see from the pictures, it worked a bit like drinking from a long straw .
In spite of widespread condemnation by the medical world, The Banjo became a best seller because parents could leave their baby unattended to feed from it. In some cases the babies were too young to even hold the device!Just goes to show that just like today – convenience was a very marketable commodity. The Banjo continued to be sold well into the 1920s.
To make matters worse, many ‘Banjo’ bottles had cute names such as 'my little pet'. Others were more imperial like ' The Empire', 'The National' 'The Victorian'. Manufacturers also took advantage of the popularity of the Princess of Wales; common inscriptions were, 'The Princess’ or 'The Alexandra'.
The glass-molded Alexandra "Banjo" baby bottle shown here is typical of the flattened shape of bottles of the period. This example is 150 mm in height and features the inscription: S. Maw's, London & Sons. Trade Mark.
Although that first rubber teat was patented by Elijah Pratt of New York in 1845, it was not until the early 1900’s that a practical rubber teat for infant feeding bottles, which didn’t disintegrate in hot water or have a nasty smell, was developed.
Prior to this, a variety of mouthpieces were used. Rags, chamois, or sponges stuffed into the neck of glass bottles or whittled wooden teats were not uncommon.
Mandy Haberman is a successful British inventor and entrepreneur best know for the award-winning Anywayup cup. Mandy started out as a mum with a good idea and total novice in the world of business, intellectual property and law.
If you have an idea for an invention, it's important to check out what's been done before. The Business and IP Centre at the British Library can help you do this.