Thomas Swan CEO, CIR and IfM leaders head the top speakers list at 15th HVM GNM Summit


The much vaunted HVM 15th anniversary & 4th Graphene New Materials Conference took place on 2-3 November in Cambridge. Here the organisers, CIR Strategy, release the names and topics of the top three of 35 summit speakers after a large delegate survey.

CIR Strategy, celebrating 15 years of business strategy consulting and 50 full conference days, would like to thank all those who took part in the November summit and take the opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

It has been wonderful to play a tiny part in helping innovators and in bringing them together to discuss and show their ideas and business models over these last 15 years.

Gold 1st place: Harry Swan, Managing Director of Thomas Swan & Co Ltd

Silver 2nd place: Professor Tim Minshall, J. C. Taylor Professor of Innovation and Head of IfM, Cambridge

Bronze 3rd place: Nicholas Coutts MA, CIR Strategy

Congratulations to all three!

Honourable mentions, and a very close, statistical tie in 4th between:

Dr Gerry Agnew, CTO Rolls Royce Fuel Cell Systems and LG, Scott White, CEO, PragmatIC, Dr Phil O'Donovan, co-founder Cambridge Silicon Radio, Dr Martin Agnew, CEng MIET MIEEE R&T Management, Airbus, Dr Mel Loveridge, Senior Lecturer, WMG.

Winner Harry Swan joined Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. in 2002 to launch the new Carbon Nanomaterials Business. In April 2006 he took up the position of Managing Director.  His talk was called “From Concorde to Composites – our graphene story”. Harry's talk was about his company’s journey to develop a 20 tonne per year graphene manufacturing plant that started with a chance encounter at Duxford Air Museum.

He presented some of the key commercial applications that are being developed using Thomas Swan’s graphene and share some remarkable performance data that has emerged from early tests on graphene containing composites.

In second place, Tim Minshall, who received a round of applause on introduction as the new, first-ever professor of innovation at Cambridge University, a position funded by the entrepreneur JC Taylor. Tim spoke about the productivity puzzle and asked the question: "HVM and Industrial Digitalisation: Are we undergoing a ‘4th Industrial Revolution’?"

The answer was that change is increasingly fast but is probably more correctly described as incremental. He posited showing sluggish productivity growth charts that a "‘healthy’ economy requires increased productivity" and that "technology is long-term driver of productivity growth." He went on to stress the importance of innovation but stated that it was difficult. He gave examples that were not necessarily high tech, but yielded massive increases in productivity such as the palletisation of freight.

Tim quoted Additive Manufacturing UK saying "It is estimated that the UK can win up to 8% or £5bn of this rapidly growing global market for AM products and services." He looked for the realisation of mass customisation. He saw forward to the bringing together of production and consumption through industry 4.0 and additive manufacturing technologies. Going on to cite research into barriers to progress, Tim noted that skills were high on the list (third after materials and design issues): "Lack of appropriate skills (design, production, materials, testing) preventing adoption, up-skilling current workforce vs. training of next generation, education of consumers, awareness in schools."

In third place was Nick Coutts MA from CIR Strategy. Nick covered barriers to adoption of new technologies. He is a world-renowned expert in this area. He led IBM's corporate strategy around their 100,000 products globally.

Nick's talk, simply entitled: "Barriers to adoption" noted early on that intangibles and services have "80 per cent of the impact, but only 20 per cent of the costs." Aspects such as before-sales service, delivery and advice on products were examples of services to enable sales and then intangibles such as quality and value perceptions, brand image and corporate image were noted.

A list of barriers to purchase and use were discussed, including Certification, Reference materials, Waste and recycling, Procurement processes, process scalability, standards, legislation and technical data. Various services to bring down these issues were mentioned and then a slide giving the value network that CIR has developed for Graphene and New materials was shown. Prioritisation and opportunity evaluation processes were discussed. Nick's methods are used in over ten countries by some of the world's largest and smaller innovation companies.

Dr Justin Hayward, founder and CEO of CIR Strategy, said: "I was delighted with the conference. The main reason for this was the happiness and delight of the many delegates who told the CIR team this on the desk and also in 50 post-event surveys.

"Another special aspect for me and for CIR was that this conference over two days brought us up to 50 full conference days or equivalents that we have researched, created and delivered in the period 2002-2017 – this was a high-point. It was a super event.

"The venue was excellent, designed for medium-sized conferences in multiple streams at executive level in a purpose-built, single building. There were 35 speakers and six expert moderators. The talks covered many industry 4.0-related scientific advances, new technologies and applications on day 1 and six main industry sector-focussed sessions on day 2. These were: aerospace, space, digital printing and additive manufacture, electronics & displays, lighting, sensors and devices, and also energy storage and biotechnology.

"I think Cambridge, the UK and our trading partners everywhere can look forward to a bright future as the world's innovators and industrialists continue to solve the world's problems. It has been wonderful to play a tiny part in helping innovators and in bringing them together to discuss and show their ideas and business models over these last 15 years."

To read more information, click here.

CIR (founded 2002) is a growing independent management consultancy based in Cambridge, England. We offer value network analysis, customer value proposition development, business intelligence, market entry strategy in various tech sectors such as printing, packaging, electronics, nanotech, instruments, energy, healthcare & ICT. CIR works with blue chip global corporate innovators, start-ups and investors corporate & financial.

Cambridge Investment Research Ltd