IS I.P THE GLUE THAT HOLDS COMPANIES TOGETHER?

As the need and acceptance back to 2019 levels, to meet and discuss things in person, grows with every company , we visit the latest IQPC Conference on IP Management; and as the delegates told me – it’s been a while.


The view from the 7th floor of the Brewery Conference Centre, as it looks out past Sodermalarstrand, to the famous City Hall and its Blue Room – is one of the best in Stockholm.

True, local cognoscenti, or “new money” – would probably prefer something more sedate and subtle, in Stureplan, politely rubbing shoulders with chi chi shops or private client offices around Biblioteksgatan. But if you are going to invite 140 of Europe’s top experts in Intellectual Property, to congregate face to face, and give their views – then you need to show that their views matter. Nowhere does it better than a standout view of the home Nobel Prize arena.

And matter, they do. With a tag lines and discussion sessions focussing on statements such as “Bringing the IP Portfolio to Life”. And the even more direct “Creating an IP Culture which pursues, protects and leverages IP as a Core Element of Business Strategy” – these are marketing driven perspectives that despite the legal nature of the subject matter – are already embedded in the commercial future of each company.

It is a message that, if you had arrived late on the opening day, even by just a few minutes, you could have missed. Maria Mellgren, IP Director at the Essity company – stood up at around 10.00am and delivered one of probably the top three reach – out discussions of our two days together, and what she said was two fold – that companies do not recognise the importance of brand protection as part of the IP function, that if you are acquisitional, there can be a struggle of management to see where each new brand can play its part.

Or. More important, which, of your portfolio of patents – will play their part. Sure, they are all good eggs – but which are the ones that will fly?
These are commercial discussions. Ingrid Vitanen, VP of Legals at Nokia, talked about “brand enforcement” – that this was a “work in progress”.
This was a Conference where even by lunchtime on the first day, it was clear that each delegate, each protagonist, wanted to play their part. There were no shortage of provocative views, despite the friendly ambience of the occasion . And whilst, for the first few minutes of Day One – there was a clear recognition that if you are going to focus on IP – then Sweden and Stockholm is the place to do it, and the relief of being able to get back together after all these months and years – people were here not to reminisce, but to say “ok – where is this all taking us”?

For the moment, as we moved into an after-lunch discussion – the Conference moved subtly away from Commercials and into the area of Risk. Several Patent Attorneys talked to us in the earlier break, about “financing risk management”. Heidi Adler, Director International Property Rights, at Orion Corporation, spoke for several minutes about “Risk Mitigation”. We are in the Nordics after all. We don’t immediately reach for our Lawyer.

And then there was the more philosophical question – “well, why do we have IP issues at all”? Are they not suffice gently regulated?

As the day progressed into Day Two, slowly this became a discussion about risk, and reward. And is the move towards open standards, ie, where everything fits and we can each benefit from the others developments or intellectual property – the term was FRAND was mentioned several times – and the notion that, as far as legal protection was concerned – there is no simple answer. We just have to pick our battles.

Ok – fair enough.

It took way into the Conference before Felora Mofidi, Global Head of Intellectual at DSX, voiced something that many of us had been thinking, but few had mentioned sufficiently – that, – if we believe in the value proposition commercially of our IP, then this demands a change of culture. Only 30% of delegates seemed to “get” this point, but it remained one of the standout moments, subtly thrown in to the mix of argument, but it represented the journey of IP from the purely legal patent management, to the realisation that corporate value depends on everyone getting on the same train, so to say.

It was a key moment, and fitted the direction of the Conference as a whole. As Day Two talked about “Capitalising on Future IP Opportunities “ – I quietly slipped away.. I had an evening meeting further north.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY

At a time of global increases in prices for every type of basic food, we look at the upcoming Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show ask; who is taking the lead here, – what does this mean for people in the food industry, and for you and me as mere consumers?

To judge by the hype – maybe nothing. This Hotel Restaurant and Catering event has brought together a range of business leaders, chefs, and tech-savvy people, to talk about, well, just about everything. In particular, the focus at the Tech X Stage will look at AI, as a way of solving the problems of lack of staff.

This is an interesting gambit, because if by chance – we are to have an influx of Ukrainian youngsters – and why not! – then where does this place IT in the grand scheme of things. Are we replacing Polish and Latvian baristas with their equivalent brothers and sisters from Nikolaev.?

So, nothing changed there, then. And yet, the key themes of the Conference are “innovation”, and “profitability”.

It’s not before time. After three years of drought and COVID lockdowns, is this a time of harvest, and if so, where is that new market coming from?

The difficulty, -according to noted Swedish chef Kristin Emilsson, who took her degree in food management in London – is that it is really about the costs facing the suppliers, rather than what the public would like to have.

She says “Obviously it is general costs – but what about staffing?” Her view is that the rapid changes in the world order have led to an acute shortage of chefs, who since lockdown, have now gone and found other jobs elsewhere”.

At the Hotel Restaurant and Catering event this Monday, we expect to see a range of new ideas, new ways of coping with these unforeseen challenges.

We expect to report further in due course.

The Conference can be viewed at: https://www.hrc.co.uk, from this Monday 21st March.

Human Nature. Just the same as before.

We take a fresh look at this new interpretation of the standout 2014 production of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” and ask, as it returns to the London Coliseum here in March 2022; how come the the mix of Women and Men and Mozart, never loses its appeal?

There is a young business lady waiting hurriedly inside the Chanel Shop at St Pancras as I happen also to be stepping inside for something. We exchange a few words of greeting. She says that she is running for a train to Darlington. I tell her I am en route to Cosi, at the ENO.

“Oh!! I just love that opera!” she says. “I would love to come – when is it on next?” I quickly look at my ENO app, and smile give her some alternative future dates etc.

I am taking an early dinner at the restaurant just up the road from the London Coliseum and the maitre d’ squeezes me in at a single table just alongside two ladies who are well dressed, with obligatory bottle of chilled white wine, and they are talking animatedly.

“We are going to the Opera!” , they say.

“Really!” – I reply.

“Yes – we have not been for ages, and we are SO looking forward to going out again, And “Cosi Fan Tutte” is one of our favourites.

There is a lot of psychology talked in the media about the darkness of human nature within Cosi… and are we talking about all Women, or all Men, or all relationships – or just a few, and my answer to that is; Come on, guys – this is a Funny Story. That’s it.

The appeal of its story and attraction, is indeed based on several levels, and I will come to that shortly – but people do not come to the ENO production of Cosi Fan Tutte because of they want a seminar on human nature. If they sat down and thought about it, they come because they want to enjoy the constant melody, the incredible harmonisation, the forcefulness – and subtlety – of the direction, the spot on note perfect singing. People going to an ENO Mozart Opera want to be entertained and feel good, despite its underlying messages. I found myself still singing the tunes long after getting my return train from Paddington.

This production is the same as before in 2014 in many ways, the same Coney Island fairground set. There is the same Fortune Teller cabin, redolent of Tom Hanks in “Big”. The same concept of circus gymnasts skills ensemble. It is slapstick and very, very funny.

The additional playing the Ukraine National Anthem, before curtain up – added to that sense of absolute importance. It reminded me all those years ago of the Don Giovanni first night, on the first night of ENO at the Coliseum, – when the Russians had just invaded Prague. No, some things don’t change.

This performance gave a shop window to several of the Harewood Artists who are the future of ENO Operas. Nardus Williams as Fiodiligi is superb as soon as she starts singing; Benson Wilson is just great to listen to. But stealing the show, so to say, has to be Neal Davies as Don Alfonso, always in charge of proceedings, never losing his grip – and his synergy with Soraya Mafi, whilst not as crisp as Mary Bevan originally, was spot on note perfect. I think she can be even more acidic and sharp in her storytelling.


But what took all of our breath away – was the sheer complexity and delivery of the close harmony. It never let up. The complex intertwining of medallic lines, each protagonist singing as if their lives depended on it. It was absolutely glorious.

My colleague at the end of Act 1, stood up at the Interval and looked at me, in a state of shock. We all know that ENO performances and direction are always on the edge, the exploration of new angles and avenues. But nobody does Mozart better when it comes to opera for the people.

There are still a couple more performances at my time of writing this Note. Well worth making a point of going.

Saving time in elective surgery.

Richard Jones, Chief Strategy Officer at the C2-ai company in Uk, is happy this morning! And how so? Because his company has just won a celebrated COGX healthcare prize for their elective surgery advances. This is what he says in acceptance...


Digital health is hard. In the noise of a pandemic it’s incredibly hard and there is no such thing as a no brainer. Our team was lucky enough to be able to discuss the impact we bring to elective recovery and thank these leaders from organisations that have been helped us help the NHS go further, faster. They have made it easier and we’re very grateful to them. They all have a hand in the awards mentioned below and in the international deployments of our waiting list prioritisation system and patient quality improvement systems.

Matthew Whitty James Mountford Tara Donnelly Richard Stubbs Christina Farrow Andrew Mabey Helena Teague Pollyanna J. Piers Ricketts Louise Jopling Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) Innovation Agency – part of the AHSN Network, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network, South West AHSN, AAC, NHS, NHSX, AAC/Innovation, Research & Life Sciences Group at NHS England

Sukhmeet Panesar (self-titled Strategy Wonk – genius!), Ming Tang, Ayub Bhayat, Mike Kenny and Neville Young weren’t present but I hope their ears were burning and they know how much we value their hard work and support.

Good end to the day also with a win CogX Awards for best Covid-19 innovation with friend and colleague Mark Ratnarajah and Alan Greenberg. That’s three wins and being finalists over 3 years, but the first time we were able to attend and thank Charlie Muirhead and his team in person. Very cool new business model COGX have developed!

Two nominations with our partners for the Health Service Journal Partnership Awards later in the week – fingers crossed.

C2-ai. can be contacted at; http://www.c2-ai.com.

IS FINANCE JUST ABOUT TECHNOLOGY?

We sit in on the recent Future of Finance Conference at London Wembley, from the expert people at IQPC, and congratulate them on a great bringing together of like minded people.

I push open the revolving doors at the Hilton and walk across the soft carpet. It is quite silent, very few people. There is no signage of the conference but it’s obvious the way to go is upstairs. I follow the escalators up two floors and there we are. The girls at the Conference Reception smile, hand me my badge – “sorry, what was your name.. BLOSS?”…. And suddenly, dressed in a royal blue suit and smiling broadly, Richard Walls, Event Director, strides across.

“Richard, great to see you! How was the journey?”

We have never met before in our life. But that does not matter. We are among friends now. IQPC may not have been the first, in these post Covid days – but they were the first that mattered. And if there were some misconceptions, some blind alleys, this Conference was everything that a meeting of minds should be. Groups of varied and disparate financial business leaders mixed with vendors of solutions who had seen all this before, were experienced, who knew the game, knew what to say.

There was a feeling of relief, that we could finally share experience together in a way that was never possible in the far more blunt Zoom and Teams environments. It was not a large event – some 50 or so delegates, and a dozen vendors, but there was never a sales or pushy environment, this was almost Scandinavian in the focus on simple discussion leading to business discussion.

The programme was mixed – but focussed on technical as opposed to commercial.- And even when two of the speakers had to cancel last-minute – there was such goodwill in the audience and protagonists, for others to step up and join the debate.

It was very well organised and structured; the Day One afternoon revolving Group sessions allowed us all to cherry pick the areas of knowledge that we wished to look at. This was a meeting point of shared knowledge. I particularly liked the practical points that Kevin from Siemens Gamesa alluded to, and David Myers’s from Brewin was equally practical in his comments.

Typical was the early morning round table on Day Two, which looked principally at ESG – a concept that few of us had ever considered. It was tough start to the day. After an hour, Richard Walls leant forward from the back and said “we are covering a lot of questions that we had not thought of; we need to plan additional days like this”.

Yes, they do. People nodded their head in agreement at this comment. There was little mention of the impact of people and personnel in the financial changes that were being discussed, the cultural differences that “looking into the future” that cultural differences will bring.

But that again, did not matter.

I got the distinct view that, given enough time – we could have solved the worlds problems. It was a throwaway but so relevant thought on my part.

A Text arrived on my iPhone. I walked away from the huddle taking coffee. My co-Director, Irina, messages me she had just arrived at the Ukraine/Moldova border, from her home in Kiev. Safe at last. Among friends.

QUESTION; WHY IS THE PUB ON THE CORNER, THE CORNERSTONE OF LIFE IN GENERAL?

We review the revival of the Puccini opera “La Boheme”, at ENO in London just a few days ago,  and ask – is this a simple story, a view from a distance so to say, where you and I are looking on almost against our will, through some window  – or a classic love story, that has stood the test of time?

Perhaps it is both. 

I never thought during this performance, that I was in the grip of a serious romantic affair, as say I have been in Madame Butterfly, or Carmen. But I did feel that I was a voyeur, and unable to change any of the outcome.  I knew Mimi would die. And the facts are these:

If you are looking for an Opera that mirrors life in all its seediness and lack of hope – then the Puccini classic, “la Boheme” would not be a bad choice. Created just a few years after the Emile Zola equally classic novel “L’Assommoir” (the boozer…), if you want to get down and dirty amongst the very poor, well Paris in the late 19th century, is where it’s at.

The story is simple enough. Art for art’s sake does not pay the bills. Mimi, who by that time, is already freezing to death, finds love with Rodolfo – who then gets jealous, – and it doesn’t end happily ever after. It’s an opera, after all.

For once, the tension that we normally expect and associate with ENO production, did not readily surface until Act 3-  and yet all the classic ENO properties were there; very tight production, wonderful orchestra; great melodic delivery. For me, it took the arrival of Louise Alder, as Musetta, before things started to happen; her approach is almost Mozartian, very staccato and pin-point, it cuts through perhaps the saccharine lines of her colleagues.

And that’s unfair, because this production has stood the test of time. My graphic above shows the programme of La Boheme in 2010, and nothing has changed. 

This is an Opera and performance where you can take anybody who does not know about opera, but wants a classic music evening. Obviously, there is a new class of performers, if you like,  a new generation.  Ben Glassberg  excelled in the power of conducting the ENO orchestra. And there was great interplay, particularly Act1. If I was feeling distant in watching the story unfold, then it was also nice to be entertained, as opposed to be educated. 

The thing  is – the story, and its delivery, just works almost on autopilot. You sit back and let ENO deliver. And if there are questions, such as; “are Mimi and Rodolfo actually in love?” – well, could be….  And “why does Mimi have to die”? – well, that’s what happens, it’s the wrong part of  Paris at the end of the 19th century. It’s a story, and these are the facts.

IT’S HOLIDAY TIME – ON A BIG BOAT!

As gaps are starting to appear in the COVID stranglehold – we look at the background to getting back on the water, with a visit to the CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO in London Excel, – and what we can expect when we travel.


If you are going to have a Conference about Cruise Liners, then basing yourself by the side of the Thames, and just two tube stops down from the O2 Arena, is not a bad place to start. Adjacent also to City Airport, and equally close to Tower Bridge and some of the richest mooring spots in an already wealthy city financial area – it’s not hard to see why the organisers of this new Event, chose the Excel as their stopping off point.


They all had a party, the night before. If they say that every vertical market is like a small village – everybody knows everybody – then this was the ambience as you walk through the frankly deserted hallways of Excel until you come across Hall 3, and step inside the Trade Show area.


Perhaps the exhibitors and organisers, were expecting more? It didn’t help that just two days earlier, the UK went into a new series of COVID travel restrictions. More than one exhibitor confided that they had to fork out more than £100.00 on a sudden PCR test, that had not been made apparent before travel.


The chaotic travel scenario alas extended into the event itself. And this was a pity. Because CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO 21 – was actually rather good! There were some very, very inventive new products in the space-saving category, clever hospitality devices rubbed shoulders with travel agencies – and every Stand had at least one major decision-maker resident. Every conversation, was a productive experience.


I loved the Nautilus bedroom pod from Matalika; and the rather interesting invention from Icecooldesign, The nice lady at Franz Fertig showed me how to create a sofa-bed, without pretty much lifting a finger.


People come to Trade Fairs, to do business. There were far more European vendors, than British, and they had travelled there for a reason. There were more conversations in Italian – than English. Everybody was happy to have a chat.


The comparative lack of people created an intimacy – you could progress in a conversation beyond the usual “meet and greet”.


For that reason, although the Fair was not large in size, by comparison to others at Excel – this was a more worthwhile experience.


There was enough space not to need absolutely a mask, all the time. Just to be on the safe side, I put mine on, when re-emerging onto the Excel hallway. I think we are in for the long haul with COVID into 2022, but hopefully long gone by the time we all get back for the same event in 2022. I’ll be among friends.

CAN NEW ENERGY THINKING, SAVE THE WORLD?


We interview Paddy Young, Director of Enlit Europe in Milan this November 21, and ask – if Energy has had a bad press from Global Warming, who will listen to its voices now?

Paddy Young sits back, across the screen from me. He is wearing a blue sweater, very relaxed in what appears to be an office environment, the image is a mix of social cool but also business mode. We are all chilled now.

As the “bringer to the market” of the first major event for the energy industry since European Utility Week & Powergen Europe rebranded into Enlit Europe and COVID planning took over – this is a milestone, that, following on the footsteps of COP26, are we going to see big announcements, big differences?

“No – this is an energy transition event”, he says. The big misconception of you and I, say, is that we want everything all at once”. Paddy continues; “Big gestures, grand concepts, will not themselves be necessary. But what we are looking for, is targeted integration from old to new”.

It is a valid point. This Enlit new-brand of event, is bringing together a segregated group of specialists, ranging from start-ups, through to established voices, each given their “area” or “hub” so to say, to talk about, guide, and show, where an energy future can go.

It is a practical meeting point. And Paddy himself is no specialist. He is a realist, He delivers events in vertical markets, where he can make a difference. His background, from studying in Bucks in the UK, to a global journey of delivering for large corporates, including being the messenger for a global water crisis for so many countries, his remit is to bring to our attention those aspects that we have passed over, but need to change.

The difference, between now – and former years – Paddy explains, “is that we are now entering an age of consumer empowerment. You and I do not have to buy this energy brand or that one. The success of which energy process succeeds will depend on the brand and its ability to engage with its market.”
“People may well choose to pay a bit more” he continues, “if we can start to “love our energy company”.

The fact that people can now make choices, “is that we are all together on the same journey, instead of being a supplier and a reluctant consumer”.

Enlit Europe is spread over three days. It is enough time for people to meet and link with the partners of their choice. We have finished our 30 minutes together – but could have gone on for much longer. “Very stimulating discussion”, he says.

CAN WAGNER OPÊRA REACH OUT TO THE COMMON MAN?

We review the latest brand new production of the Wagner Opêra “the Valkyrie”, at London’s ENO English National Opera, and ask – what is it about this performance, that is so special that we want to come see it?

I am seated at a nice seat, somewhere. I txt my wife. “I’m excited”, I say. “Did you bring your mask?”, she asks. “Yes. And it is very crowded” . “Then make sure you wear your mask”. The line goes dead. The man sitting next to me is not wearing a mask. He is talking with his friends.

It is not that ENO produces safe opera. You could almost say that English National Opera carries a health warning. It is risky. You don’t come to ENO because you necessarily want to sing the tunes on the way home. You come for the journey. You could almost say that ENO Members and Supporters are addicts.

So, when Annilese Miskimmon steps in advance onto the stage prior to curtain up, and says something like: “look guys, we’ve got just one or two little issues… there’s no big fire at the end… and oh -forget COVID – two of the leading singers are down with bad colds, and one of them can’t even sing a note, for God’s sake!”- seasoned supporters are used to this. It is not relevant.

How so?

Because the driving force of this “Valkyrie”. Is not the individual singer, but the communication of the emotion, the human relationship, as much as the storyline itself. It is the synergy of the parts of orchestra, the subtlety, the ambience, that support the protagonists on stage, that keep all of our attention, for the full five hours. ENO has been perfecting this approach for a very long time. Even from my very first opera, Wagner’s “Mastersingers” at Rosebery Avenue, as a 12 year old kid hitch-hiking across London to see something called an opera – looking back at my top five all-time best performances at ENO – Wagner would fill three of the spaces – and I am not even a Wagner aficionado.

This production is brand new, it brings to the table some of the best Direction and Performers. With minimalist scenery and graphic intervention -its secret is that it lets the performers “do their thing”. It treats this Wagner project as a modern opera in style and approach, and lets the singers and their relationships with each other, keep us guessing and spellbound.

The programme notes describe this new staging as “narratively gripping and emotionally poignant”, and I think that for the most part – they get there.

The standout Act, perhaps surprisingly, was Act 1 – the performance of Emma Bell as Sieglinde, is phenomenal, and her chemistry dramatically and vocally with Nicky Spence as Siegmund. Is the driving force of the opera. There is a noticeable tension when they re-emerge later in Act 2.

This is a long opera, with a deep multi-level message. You and I will not get all of this, in one sitting. But that is not the point. We go for the total experience, and pick up what we can, and then perhaps go again.

But there is also a point that might have been overlooked by so many of us, and that is one of the key objectives for both this performance, and production – and that was briefly alluded to by Annilese Miskimmon in her opening prelude – that is the giving away of free tickets, to a younger audience. There was a round of applause when she made that statement.

The inclusion of a new non-opera audience, and showing its relevance, and its ability to change lives for perhaps more than just one or two – is a key mandate at ENO. And I should know. All those years ago, I was one of them.

Has COVID been a blessing?

As we slowly – for most of us – move out of Covid restriction -we look at how the forcing of Hospitals to be online may well be the saviour they have still yet to recognise.

Some four years ago, I am sitting with a Clinical Consultant at a major Uk Hospital and he says to me, ‘Richard”, he says: “we can never do patient appointments without the patient being there. The Nurses just won’t stand for it”.

This is an interesting observation. Because, whilst we all have seen instances of reluctant or obstructive IT Teams, or even “Transformation Teams” – and now more likely, Data teams, towards the introduction of new tech driven processes, what we are seeing still, is that these insecurities are supported at a human nature level, and the excuses of choice are related to “unacceptable risk”, or “doesn’t fit our road map” or worse “we already have a policy for this”.

This is a pity, because if there is one benefit from COVID turning our lives upside down, it is that our lives can be much better when we put everything back in order. And there is no reason not to.

Because, what we know now of course, is that the secure tech exists, and has done so for some years, for perfectly capable remote patient discussion – and its advantages of bringing to the party additional protagonists to fit whichever patient we are talking to – are well known. So the question is:

Why did we not think of this before?

Well, we did. And it was not you and I in healthcare, that created or discovered it. It was our phone companies, and our search engines, whose livelihood depended on things being secure, flexible, and above all workable – long before you and I started to relate the same services that we use in our daily lives – to our working lives.

The upshot of all this, is that it now brings into question, why are we persisting with our old ways of doing things, our giant clunky solutions, our old SQL and single-sign on etc processes, when they have already long been superseded by mobile Apps that you and I can download for a few pence, and that require no support, and connect with planet Zog, from the moment we start to install in our front bedroom.

Yet you could say this is a negative. The driver for this unseen revolution, has been the necessity of COVID, to not meet people. Fair enough. I get that.

But now we are there, can we not recognise the promised land that gives us Carte Blanche to absolutely look again at how we run our hospitals, what is new and available right now, to do the same job that used to and still costs us zillions – when we can indeed reach a much better utopia, further, and use our resources much better?

What we have found over the past two years when we talked at all levels throughout Hospitals, is that there is no single Department, or Division, etc where we can point a finger. It is the prejudice of the individual that restricts them from going outside their comfort zone, that it is Ok to go outside their comfort zone – that it is essential to do so.

The problems that we are currently experiencing, of longer waiting lists, of five hour waiting times at E&E, and I could go on – are the result of the inability and unwillingness to prepare for change. Which brings me to my point. We surely do not want to experience another pandemic, to realise that we could have done it all better, so much earlier.