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DIGBY GOES TO TOWN

24 Oct 05. For those of our readers who were lucky enough to see the memorable Money Programme attack by Jimmy Goldsmith on the Programme (since buried in the BBC archives, never to return). Sir Digby Jones, Director-General of the CBI, gave a similar performance, but this time live, in destroying the Government’s current Industrial Policies. His speech followed a rather pitiful one by Alun Michael M.P., Minister for Industry who tried to justify the success of the Industrial Policy and its involvement with industry and an excellent speech by Noel Forgeard, Co- CEO of EADS, on Innovation:

“Accordingly, it is a great honour for me to speak to such a distinguished audience tonight.

From my perspective, the theme for tonight’s event could not have been more relevant: Because “Then and Now: transformation through innovation” very accurately describes what Airbus has achieved in civil aviation over the past thirty years.

And it is a statement that EADS strongly believes in also with regard to its overall objective of conquering the number one spot in the global aerospace and defence industry in the long run. – Not too long, though!

When we speak about ‘innovation’, most people actually refer to technological invention. Which – as you as entrepreneurs are well aware – is only half the story. Because what really counts is developing that technology into a viable product; bringing that product to the market and making it a product that customers want to buy and can afford.

Of course, I will also refer to that aspect of product innovation. But innovation plays a wider role as a key enabler for success.

For instance, the creation of EADS – the first and still the only trans-national merger in aerospace and defence to date – was a huge innovation itself.

Just as many scientists, up to the early 20th century, considered it technically impossible to make aircraft heavier than air lift off the ground, it seemed fanciful until very recently to even imagine a real European consolidation in the highly political fields of aerospace and defence!

Innovation has proved these notions to be wrong:

In July 2000, EADS was first established as a truly European aerospace and defence company, culminating in the construction of the A380 – with a maximum take-off weight of a stunning 560 tons. “

Back to Sir Digby.

He clearly stated, with Alun Michael squirming at every sentence that in essence there would be ‘no industry in this country’ unless the Government tackled three specific issues, Energy Policy, Job creation and R&D and red tape. Of course we must understand that the Cabinet consists of people, none of whom have ever run a business or are ever likely to! In addition the majority are lawyers who are notorious for bad management and getting away with overcharging in a closed shop environment policed by their own! What other organisation has to have a special department to check whether bills are fair but still charges the unfortunate punter if that bill is not reduced by more than 25%, which it rarely is.

Thus the theme of Sir Digby’s speech probably went over their heads as they would have to have a preliminary lesson on profit and loss ands how to run a company!

In addition, he urged European Union leaders to accept the case for economic reform if they are to deliver wealth and prosperity for their citizens in the era of globalisation. He said that the Prime Minister must stick to his principles in championing root and branch reform of the EU’s economic and social models. His call came as 25 EU heads of government were due to gather this week at the historic royal palace of Hampton Court to discuss ‘the opportunities and challenges of globalisation’. The gathering comes more than halfway through in the UK’s six-month Presidency of the EU.

He continued, “The ideologies of Old Europe have condemned hundreds of millions of people to the economic slow track while the US has accelerated int

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