Richard Dimbleby Lecture

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The annual Richard Dimbleby lecture is one my favourite BBC institutions. James Dyson, this years speaker took a leaf from Will Hutton’s The State We’re In, lamenting the distruction of the ecology that supported the manufacturing industry in the UK – such as sub contractors in metal working and coatings that helped him invent the Ballbarrow in the 1970s. Dyson touched on his departure from the board of the Design Museum.

Dyson points out that many of the UK’s peers like the US and Germany still have a manufacturing capability that is much greater than the UK.

He debunks a number of commonly held preconceptions:

  • Engineering is in the past – wrong technology is the future, for economic processes and making good the mistakes of the past
  • The 18th & 19th century were the golden age of manufacturing – what about Sony, Apple, microchips and the car?
  • Britain once led the industrial world and know how to make things better – tell that to the US, the Swiss and the Germans
  • Britain is a nation of inventors more creative than anywhere else – so why are James Dyson, Jonathan Ives and Trevor Bayliss news? Because they are the exception rather than the norm

Interesting statistics

  • Only three of the top ten British companies are service companies
  • The only service company in the worlds ten largest firms is Walmart
  • One in seven UK jobs are still in manufacturing and they account for two thirds of UK exports

The transcript of Dyson’s speech can be found here (Adobe Acrobat or Apple Preview required).