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I was surprised when I first learnt that the inventor of the marine propeller was Czech (when this region was part of an empire with a coastline). These days maritime and coastal technology is understandably of greater interest to British scientists and engineers working with wave and off shore wind power.
Interestingly, though today we might associate the latest gadgets with sophisticated city dwelling, in the British Isles 5000 years ago maritime traffic kept communities along our coasts and western islands up to date with innovations and trends. Perhaps this history of seafaring and exploration contributed to our fascination with engineering and scientific challenge.
Invention and innovation have played a critical role in British history and remain hugely important. It was no accident that Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony featured the Industrial Revolution and Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the world wide web. We see another famous British inventor In the latest James Bond film Skyfall, opening today, the legendary ‘Q’. The only shortcoming of Q’s brilliant gadgets is their limited practical use for most everyday lives.
Luckily other British inventors have been more practical. Anyone passing through Prague’s renamed Vaclav Havel Airport, can dry their hands quickly thanks to British designer and entrepreneur James Dyson before flying planes powered by Sir Frank Whittle’s jet engine.
Recently my Embassy was visited by Tech City, the fast growing technology ‘cluster’ outside London’s Olympic Park. Some young Czech companies are already starting to see the benefits for small companies, typically in the digital IT/creative field, seeking to extend their markets and attract new capital. We look forward to welcoming more. [See FB page or http://www.techcityuk.com/#!/home.]
British and Czech scientists cooperate too for example in work related to the planned Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines Facility. And the Central European Centre for Innovation and Technology (CEITEC) in Brno, bringing a new approach to scientific research in the Czech Republic, has a link with London’s Imperial College of Science and Technology (one of the world’s top ten universities).
High quality scientific and engineering education, research and development are essential for our future well being. Technology shapes our lives and the future. In an increasingly competitive global market, technological and innovative capacity becomes ever more important for our continent’s future prosperity. And, as the earth’s population grows, putting ever greater demands on food, water, energy and healthcare, we will be increasingly reliant on improving technology to manage resources wisely and sustainably.