Friday 10 May 2024

M-SParc's Finance and Innovation Conference

MIT Lobby
By Madcoverboy at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I returned to the Menai Science Park yesterday for its Finance and Innovation Conference.  I nearly missed it because I noticed a flat tyre just as I was about to set off early in the morning.   I managed to get it fixed by 11:30 which was when the conference was due to start.   After checking whether I could attend the afternoon session, I hit the motorway and arrived at M-SParc just as Gwenllian Owen was chairing what appeared to be a discussion between business angels.

Happily, that meant I arrived in good time for a lecture by Phil Budden from Massachusetts Institute of Technology by video link.  Dr Budden is the Senior Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the Sloan School.  His talk focussed on innovation-driven entities ("IDE"), a type of startup in a new technology that makes a loss at the start but then rapidly generates revenue.  He contrasted those businesses with other small and medium enterprises which tend to generate profits steadily,  The revenue curve of an IDE starts with a "U" representing a dip below the break-even line followed by an almost vertical upward curve.  The typical SME generates profits from the start and its curve is a steady 45 degrees.  The SME were the backbone of advanced economies but it was the IDE that generated growth.

As Dr Budden was speaking I thought of Amazon which had begun as an online bookseller reporting loss after loss in the early days and its Chinese equivalent Alibaba.  It prompted me to ask why it was only America and China that were producing tech giants like Alphabet and Baidu.  Where was the European or for that matter any other nation's equivalent?  In his reply, Dr Budden referred to the massive size of the US and Chinese economies.  They operate on a continental scale.  The UK, by contrast, was erecting impediments to transcontinental trade.  He invited me to respond and I referred to the US government's massive investment in defence that I had noticed as a graduate student in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

A man in a dark green shirt asked for advice on setting up in the USA.  Dr Budden recommended among other things incorporation in Delaware.  He was right to say that many of America's leading companies are incorporated in that state.  That is because of its very flexible rules on incorporation known as "blue sky laws" and the strict regulation of corporations by its Court of Chancery.  Wales and England used to have a similar court until 1873 when the courts of equity and common law merged into one Supreme Court of Judicature albeit with separate divisions, procedural rules and practices which still exist today.

I tried to attract the attention of the man in the green shirt to introduce him to a US contact with a very similar practice to mine who should be able to help him but there were too many distractions for both of us.  Instead, I suggested to Gwenllian and Lois Bevan Shaw a seminar on expansion into the US market with a video link to my contact and others in the USA.  They seemed receptive to the idea and I have already started work on a proposal for such an event to be staged on Wales Enterprise Day in November.

Although Dr Budden's talk was the main attraction for me there were plenty of other good talks:
  • 11:30 - 12:00  Registration and brunch
  • 12:00 - 12:05  Welcome by Gwenllian and Lois
  • 12:05 - 12:25  Business Wales & Big Ideas Wales
  • 12:25 - 12:45 Samantha Williams and Ann Sudder Welsh Government Innovation Team
  • 12:45 - 13:00 Louise Jones InnovateUK
  • 13:00 - 13:30 Hannah Williams in conversation with Pryderi ap Rhisiart 
  • 13:40 - 13:50 Gwenllian Owen and Sean King and other angels 
  • 13:55 - 14:10 Anna Roberts of Explorage on her founder's journey
  • 14:10 - 14:50 Edward Thomas with Steven Livingston of IP Taxation and representatives of several funding institutions
  • 15:00 - 16:00 Dr Phil Buddon on IDEs
  • 16:00 - 16:15  Bangor University's voucher scheme for local businesses
  • 16:15 - 16:45 Case studies and flash grants
  • 16:45 - 17:15  Sundry grants
  • 17:15 - 18:30  Barbecue
One of my compatriots who works for the Department of Transport delivered part of his presentation in Welsh which was welcomed with well-deserved applause. It has inspired me to make more time to study the language.

The event took place in glorious sunshine.  The mountains across the strait have never looked lovelier.   Tim Powell posted a picture of that view on LinkedIn.   As he said in his post it is remarkable that anyone ever does any work when surrounded by such beauty.  The science park has hosted some great events in the 6 years that I have known them but this was one of the best.  Hearty congratulations to Pryderi, Gwenllian, Lois and everyone else who was involved in the conference.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article can call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal office hours or send me a message through my contact form.


  1. Excellent article - diolch Jane.

  2. Croeso, Pryderi. Mwynheais y diwrnod yn fawr iawn. Dw i'n edrych ymlaen at fy ymweliad nesaf.


This blog is moderated, If you want to comment, please do so here.