Smart Grids & Cleanpower 2016 Cambridge 27-28 June

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The Most Exciting & Informative Executive Business Meeting on Smart Grids & Cleanpower in 2016 – Just 2 weeks to Go!

You can claim a 15% discount to attend, online by selecting the concessions box and quoting “CIRBlog”

Dear Colleagues,

On 27-28 June 2016, over 100 global business leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, academics and the media will converge on Cambridge for 7th Smart Grids & Cleanpower IIoT Conference. This 7th annual event will deal with current examples of smart grids projects around the world and will focus on what lies ahead, covering innovations that will smooth the way towards energy storage at large scale and distributed and for smart grids of various types.

We have brought more than 25 speakers, known for their expertise in mainstream, emerging & transformative innovation areas of energy and utilities around smart grids, energy storage, energy mix & security.

We hope to see you there,
Maya Stancheva, Justin Hayward & Nicholas Coutts
Cambridge Investment Research
40 High Quality Conference Days since 2002

The 7th Cambridge Smart Grids & Cleanpower IIoT Conference 2016
www.cir-strategy.com

Conference Delivery – Cambridge Investment Research
Sponsors – Sentec Sensus & UtilityWise
Government participants – DECC, Ofgem, National Grid, NPL
Associate Sponsors – Argand Solutions, Smartest Energy, AMT Sybex
Media Partners & Outlets – Pan European Networks, Horizon 2020 Projects, CIR, Eco-Business, Conference Alerts, Cambridge Wireless, Cambridge Network

Information

Monday – Tuesday June 27-28th, 2016, Wordsworth Executive Conference Centre, Robinson College, Adams Rd, Cambridge, CB3 9AN

Recommended conference accommodation: at venue (lower cost) – Hilton Doubletree (4* historic town centre) or Cambridge City Hotel

More information »

 

 

 

 

 

The below are example past and present participants in this series since 2009!

 

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Graphene Technology and Business is Here

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Introduction

The event set was billed as the Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015 (with a hashtag of #CGD15), with no fewer than six events taking place. The first day saw second CIR Graphene & GRMs masterclass, which was attended by 30 senior corporate executives at the West Cambridge Site, while in parallel a graphene technology showcase day ran, with internal CGC partner meetings held by the Cambridge Graphene Centre.
Within this showcase the CGC partners’ technologies and CIR exhibitors were arrayed together for a very exciting press event with the director of CGC on stage with the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellor Professor Leszek Borysiewicz FRS and the head of Engineering.
In the evening there was a dinner at Madingley Hall led by CGC for invited partners and for those who had attended the 2nd CIR Graphene Masterclass and were arriving to attend 3rd CIR Business Conference the following day. 80 delegates attended the dinner, around half each from CGC and CIR.
The third CIR Graphene Business Conference for 100 businesspeople was held on the second day. This followed an inaugural series of events, including the CIR Graphene business conference (which was also held in Cambridge, in November 2013), and other CIR Graphene events in May 2014 and February 2015. An excellent audience of delegates enjoyed entertaining presentations on stage, as well as four panel question-and-answer sessions, and networking opportunities at the exhibition space, where around 40 companies were on show.
There were 20 talks throughout the day, from academics, dignitaries, large MNC business leaders in space, defence, oil and gas and steel, and scale-up materials solutions providers like Haydale and FlexEnable, and later interesting talks from venture capitalists, economists and intellectual property firms. Speakers were highly praised in feedback surveys of attending delegates by CIR.
2nd CIR Graphene Masterclass
During the masterclass, the application projects of large firms and scale-ups were discussed among 30 graphene senior corporate executives with CIR Leader Nick Coutts and colleagues in the context of value network analysis and ‘Routes to Value’. This latter is a rigorous strategic method being used by large companies to ensure that projects are within a process that connects them explicitly with the objective and values of the business (including culture) as constraints. This pioneering method that could help with scale-up gaps, enable large companies to bring in graphene material enhancements and services to add enormous value to the development of application markets.
Dr Justin Hayward, Director of CIR, said: “I am delighted that Cambridge Investment Research was able to organise complementary events within the Cambridge Graphene Tech Days 2015 event-set alongside the Cambridge Graphene Centre at this special time for the centre and for graphene, in particular, providing a highly business-focused aspect.
Sessions at 3rd CIR Graphene Business Conference
In the first session on 6 November, the director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre argued that graphene is the future of communication and will become better than silicon by 2024. The vision here is to integrate modulators and photo-detector with graphene. A transceiver prototype with graphene will solve the problem of heat that is insoluble to Moore’s Law for data storage and transmissions with current materials.
Following this, the Rt Hon the Lord Alec Broers asked whether graphene is the biggest achievement of the 21st century – comparing it with other areas on the USA’s ‘Grand Challenges’ list, including: solar technology; fusion energy; carbon sequestration; solve nitrogen cycle (whereby the pollution issue here is seen by many as more tangible and urgent than global warming issues); clean water; restoring urban infrastructure; engineering better medicine; enhancing virtual reality (flexible and wearable electronics); preventing nuclear catastrophes; secure cyber space; personalised learning; and revere engineering the human brain.
The next presentation, by IfM’s Professor William O’Neill focused on ‘manufacturing landscape and drive for impact’, in which he argued that there is a manufacturing economy in the UK, and, moreover, that UK manufacturing is high value manufacturing.
O’Neill also revealed that 85% of R&D finance in the UK comes from manufacturing companies, but that there is a missing connection between lab R&D and alpha level production technologies with large scale manufacturing. Furthermore, he added, while the UK government invests a lot in R&D, thereby creating great research, “this is just an expense, and we need to add value by delivering technologies through companies.
The Keynote speech by Haydale’s CEO, Ray Gibbs, argued that the current market analysis on graphene is wrong and is very hard to predict. He also discussed the significant market for composites, as well as the large markets for Graphene materials, but these, he said, are mostly conservative and highly regulated. He therefore underlined the need to instead to look (at least initially) to the currently unregulated markets: boats, wind energy, pipes, and rails.
Industrial challenges.

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For Ray Gibbs, the industrial challenge lies in proving production is repeatable, consistent and cost effective, and he called for immediate and better standardisation so as to create “consistent quality and value; and a price good for stakeholders.”

The next Keynote speech, delivered by focused on issues in the aerospace and defence sectors, with the lifecycle costs being highlighted as a particular area for consideration, as well as areas such as fuel consumption, graphene’s anisotropy, (channelling heat, heat dissipation & spreading), graphene’s use in a fusion power cell which could be a solution for completely silent electric airplanes, as well as an underlining of the importance of reliability and safety and certification.

This presentation posited the following as the main issues and R&D directions for aeroplanes: propellers in rotors, energy storage, structures, shielding (objects, RPG, radars, lighting, etc.), optics (lasers, receivers, lenses, and mirrors), displays (wearable electronics, flexible electronics), and ice prevention and de-icing.

Concerning satellites, the main issues and R&D directions were revealed to be: solar arrays (there is a lot of solar radiations to harness; PV cover glass could be made thinner and lighter using graphene), multilayer insulation (thermal shield), structures, antenna and mechanisms (higher conductivity needs), shielding, and optics (laser communications).

During the second session, Dr Samson Patole and Dr Sai Shivareddy from Tata Steel delivered a further keynote on graphene applications on steel for energy storage, an important area due to the fact that corrosion is a significant problem for steel, a material which can enable a large-scale implementation of energy storage tech.

The speakers outlined the applications of steel in energy storage thus: building integrated PVs (functioning coatings on steel for buildings, which are active, capture and then store thermal energy in phase material); batteries (electroplated steel cans, electrodes and casing); fuel cells (usually gold plated stainless steel bipolar plates but should be made cheaper, possibly with graphene); and supercapacitors (mostly aluminium and copper but steel for casing).

They then turned their attention to the performance improvement required for steel: good, electrical conductivity; electrochemical stability (corrosion prevention); thermal conductivity (high power devices); and formability and strength – tribology.

Regarding the replacement of gold for coating in LC steel, Patole and Shivareddy argued that the industrial challenges include scaling up – e.g. pilot line roll to roll to large scale, scale graphene coatings to cover that in which the steel industry operates, which is enormous; and the ability to coat millions of square metres with tonnes of the material with speeds of up to 100m/min – this, they said, would save billions by fighting corrosion

The presentation by Nanocarbon asked why it is better to do Graphene transfer in the lab instead of involving third parties, and posited the following reasons: it is safer (there is no need to share details of applications), it is faster (full control), it is cleaner (full control, no carriers issues), it is cheaper, and you learn and optimise.

Cambridge Nanosystem’s presentation explored the transformation of methane into graphene powder, as well as atmospheric plasma to break difficult and stable molecules like methane, CO2 and other carbon-based molecules. Hydrogen is produced as a byproduct of this process undertaken to create graphene powder, explained Dr Krysztof Koziol, which also has uses.

Revolution

The third session included a speech by Novalia’s Dr Kate Stone, who discussed adding interactivity to print and how paper with interactive surfaces could revolutionise the digital world, while OCSiAl’s Will Riches discussed an industrial scale facility for single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), focusing in on touch screens, paint and coatings, lithium battery, and polymer composites.

Dr Gun-Soo Kim from Standard Graphene (which emerged from Samsung), then spoke about how graphene flakes stand to lead the market, before a keynote speech by FlexEnable’s Dr Paul Cain discussed ‘bringing any surface to life’ – from those which are wearable to those found in the automotive sector.

The fourth session included a focus on the intellectual property landscape with regard to graphene by Marks & Clerk’s Mash-Hud Iqbal, who described patent families globally by geography and sector and over time to 2014. Later, BP’s Sheetal Handa delivered a keynote address on the challenges in the oil and gas industry, focusing on sub-sea extraction and the various materials needed, as well as oil pipe transportation and problems with the various materials (sand, oil, water, condensation, and welding) that are in the pipes (i.e. surface interactions), and the idea that applications for 2D materials will mostly be in corrosion resistance, surface treatments, deposits and fouling, self-repairing systems, and separations.

Indeed, according to Handa, nanomaterials in (titanium based) lubricant oil result in 40% less friction, and because the pipelines used are extremely long (thousands of kilometres), are located in remote, hot/cold conditions, have several phases of material pass in great volumes, and produce large amounts of unwanted material and erosion etc., less friction is a necessity.

Handa revealed that, for BP, 2D materials have numerous positive uses, including: corrosion resistance, surface treatment, deposits & fouling, self-indicate damage, and against bio films formations in pipes, low wear friction, and offshore pipe work.

Handa concluded that BP is now working to develop sensing technologies to help solve the mystery of why composites fail in order to facilitate a wider roll-out of these materials.

The event was thus a success, with a wide variety of stakeholders coming together to share their views on both the uses and limitations (and only by highlighting these can we hope to overcome them) with regard to graphene and other 2D materials.

For more information about the next conference and executive briefing with master class in this programme please see: www.hvm-uk.com. Delegates who have attended earlier graphene festival events are offered discounts.

 

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Graphene Value Network

by Nicholas Coutts MA and Justin Hayward PhD MBA

Everything we do – research, development, testing, manufacturing,
investing, selling – is part of a value network. Understanding what
the value network looks like and how it may be changing can be
very beneficial in terms of helping to protect or increase the value
received or offered as changes occur. For example, Cambridge
Investment Research (CIR) developed a value network map of the barriers to adoption and use of a new and potentially very enabling & high value functional material: graphene (see Figure). The map shows 17 stakeholder types from the areas of: industry, investor, government, standards bodies, academic institutions and the taxpayer (who ultimately funds public and some private research and development).

graphene-value-network (PDF – all rights reserved CIR Ltd)

The map was developed during a one-day masterclass with participants from industry, professional services and academic backgrounds. The purpose of this value network analysis is to identify the barriers to the adoption and use of graphene by some of the different stakeholders in order to develop approaches to lowering or removing as many obstacles as possible. Lowering or removing barriers should speed the growth of applications for graphene. These can be reduced by the provision of services, and hence service design has an important role in speeding
up the growth of application. The map also shows flows between
stakeholders with an arrow to indicate the flow direction. The flows can be money, product, information, or services, or combinations of one or more of these.

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Image Above Courtesy of FlexEnable Ltd, Cambridge

Needs and expectations
The arrows can also be indicators of the needs and expectations of a
stakeholder. For example, one of the stakeholders – the materials
supplier – expects the standards body to provide standardisation and certification. Without such information, which is a service required by the materials supplier of the standards body, the materials supplier’s ability to supply may be limited and hence the growth of applications for graphene could be stunted.
On the CIR value network map of barriers to adoption and use of graphene, this is shown as a very high (VH) barrier to adoption based on the view of the experts in the group that contributed to the map’s development.
Development Preparation of the map is straightforward. A table of all stakeholders is created. The needs and expectations of each are discussed and agreed.
A description of the barrier and the direction of flow are noted. The impact of these needs and expectations in terms of barriers to adoption and use are then assessed on a simple scale from being a ‘very high’ barrier to very low’ barrier, and this is noted. The resulting updatable table is uploaded to a dynamic software suite on the Cloud. The software then generates the dynamic map with the data.
The map can be used to analyse and assess the role and importance of the stakeholders in terms of their connections to others.
Priorities
These data then help the understanding of priorities for action to be taken that will lower or remove the main barriers. This understanding of priorities, underpinned by a rigorous analysis of the value network by expert participants in a group of organisations or a single company, can then be converted into a short summary of recommendations. This can be for an executive, a management team, or the group of organisations.
An increasing number of leaders are coming to understand the use and importance of value network dynamics, and some now consider it to be sufficiently important and take responsibility for maintaining an up-to date, dynamic value network map both for the present and for the future on a senior management level.

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If you would like to join a Leader’s MasterClass – if you believe it falls to you in your organisation to drive forward strategy and monetisation of GRMs – then please do approach CIR for info or booking +44 1223 303500 (direct) for the MasterClass on 5 November 2015 in Cambridge as part of the Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015 festival of events including business conference, expo of tech, new lab tours and dinner.

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Image Courtesy of Haydale plc Lead Sponsors of Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015.

 

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August News – Cambridge GrapheneTechDays 2015

We welcome you all!

Who Should Attend? 

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Why attend? Pricing

Sponsors & exhibitors marketing | Click for detailed info and pricing

Sponsor Credits: Haydale plc (Lead) FlexEnable (Co-Lead) CGC (Co-Lead) Marks & Clerk LLP (Gold)

The Cambridge Graphene Tech Days 2015 is a leading festival of events over two days for networking and learning more about the latest advances in commercialising Graphene and related materials  in sectors such as electronics, displays, energy storage, composites, packaging, aerospace & defence and automotive.

Airbus & BP will give new presentations on the challenges for Graphene Solutions Providers in their set of industries and will be joined also by other global conglomerates.

The special programme of events will be held mainly in Cambridge’s newly-opening Graphene Building: with an exhibition of technology and tours of new labs as well as a media event, conference and a fine Hall dinner. The expert-led MasterClass covering the value network srtructure and barriers & application prioritisation offer enormous added value to corporate executive leaders.

Introduction from Dr Justin Hayward, CEO of CIR and Co-Director of Cambridge Graphene Days 2015
It is an honour to have the chance to bring together such excellent industrial and entrepreneurial growth companies in the graphene and GRM sector with Cambridge University and its new Graphene Centre Building Hub. Cambridge is perhaps the top global university across all key measures such as teaching and research. It is also home to a burgeoning technology cluster. Great companies have been born & grown to billions in the 25 years that I’ve lived here, but now multinationals also regularly come to have a base in Cambridge to find excellent research, engineering & coding staff, partnerships with top academics and other outsourcing and learning with many other players offering services in the tech cluster. I look forward to an inspiring couple of days of events.

Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale commented ”The Cambridge hub is one of the pre-eminent places to go for the highest quality science and application skills. As a leading technological solution provider to this rapidly evolving market sector it made great sense to support this centre of excellence covering graphene and related nano materials, . We believe the conferences and workshops at the Cambridge Graphene Days will showcase the adoption and use of the graphene materials in real products. Haydale’s functionalised graphene technology already is providing ground breaking benefits to organisations involved with composite materials, conductive inks and next generation battery technology”.

Chuck Milligan, CEO, FlexEnable commented ”The relevance of graphene and graphene-like materials to flexible electronics for displays and sensors is clear, and we are proud to be co-sponsors of the Cambridge Graphene Days event – and the opening of the Graphene Building in Cambridge. We believe that our unique manufacturing processes for flexible electronics, together with the exponential growth expected in the flexible display and IoT sensor markets, provide enormous opportunity for this exciting class of materials.”

Professor Andrea Ferrari added “We are very much looking forward to our Cambridge Graphene Technology Day on the 5th of November, when we will showcase industrial applications of graphene and related materials. We are also excited to be hosting high value manufacturing-oriented meetings on the site of the Cambridge Graphene Centre”

To learn more about the Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015 please visit http://www.hvm-uk.com/graphene2015

Book now!

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Who should attend Cambridge Graphene Days 2015? 5-6 November

Booking online | Info | Why attend? Please call Maya on +44 1223 303500 for help booking and service.

Top 12 Reasons

1 Anyone with an interest in traction of business involving Graphene and GRMs

2 Anyone wishing to understand barriers to adoption and use of Graphene & GRMs

3 Anyone on a science and technology watching brief for Graphene and GRMs

4 Anyone with a startup or entrepreneurial idea for Graphene or GRMs

5 Anyone with business problems to solve that might be influenced or helped by Graphene or GRMs

6 Those wishing to understand the full uptodate and prioritised range of applications and those nearer to and further from market

7 Anyone wanting to get an IPR landscape & investment level update for Graphene and GRMs

8 Anyone wanting to meet new industrial and business entrants into the Graphene and GRM areas

9 People wanting to build quality networks or ecosystems in this set of fields

10 Sector specific players seeking to access solution providers

11 Solutions providers seeking to understand customer pull in a range of sectors

12 Those in related areas of technology such as nanotech, IoT, cleantech who wish to see the potential and synergies with Graphene and GRMs

Booking online | Info | Why attend? Please call Maya on +44 1223 303500 for help booking and service.

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FlexEnable named Co-Lead Sponsor of Cambridge Graphene Days 2015

FLEXENABLE Ltd, a leader in development and industrialisation of flexible organic electronics, has announced its decision to co-sponsor the Cambridge Graphene Days 2015 (5-6 November).

The greatest graphene and GRM business event in the world in 2015.

“Perhaps the greatest graphene and GRM business event in the world in 2015.”

The Cambridge Graphene Days 2015 is a prime festival of events over two days for networking and learning more about the latest advances in commercialising Graphene and related materials  in sectors such as electronics, displays, energy storage, composites, packaging, aerospace & defence and automotive. The special set of events includes a program of events to be held mainly in Cambridge’s newly opened Graphene Building, with an exhibition of technology and tours of labs as well as a media event, conference and dinner at King’s College. Uniquely, leaders will discuss in a structured masterclass, the value network for graphene and GRMs and how barriers to adoption and use can be removed with services and networks.

Chuck Milligan, CEO, FlexEnable commented ”The relevance of graphene and graphene-like materials to flexible electronics for displays and sensors is clear, and we are proud to be co-sponsors of the Cambridge Graphene Days event – and the opening of the Graphene Building in Cambridge. We believe that our unique manufacturing processes for flexible electronics, together with the exponential growth expected in the flexible display and IoT sensor markets,  provide enormous opportunity for this exciting class of materials.”

Professor Andrea Ferrari added “We are very much looking forward to our Cambridge Graphene Technology Day on the 5th of November, when we will showcase industrial applications of graphene and related materials. We are also excited to be hosting high value manufacturing-oriented meetings on the site of the Cambridge Graphene Centre”.
For further information on development and industrialisation of flexible organic electronics please visit www.flexenable.com. To learn more about the Cambridge Graphene Days 2015 please visit http://www.hvm-uk.com/graphene2015

With over a decade of experience, IP development and technology awards, FlexEnable works together with customers to drive innovation across flexible sensors, smart systems and video-rate displays. FlexEnable‘s proven technology platform enables new mobile products, wearables, surface displays and imaging systems.

Cambridge Graphene Days event-set, available as a package via CIR here below, include:

a. MASTERCLASS – this includes media event and dinner at King’s College & is CPD Certified (day 1)

b. MEDIA EVENT & TOURS of LABS  – with Cambridge University “CEO” & Vice Chancellor, Professor Leszek Borysiewicz FRS FRCP (day 1)

c. EXHIBITIONS of real graphene and GRM technologies (both days)

d. 3rd CIR GRAPHENE BUSINESS CONFERENCE – (day 2) Chaired by Professor Andrea Ferrari, Head, Cambridge Graphene Centre, Chair, Graphene Flagship – Fantastic Panel & Speaker Lineup.

Haydale plc are confirmed Lead Sponsors of #CGD15. All takes place in the BRAND NEW CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY GRAPHENE BUILDING with lab tours available throughout the two days of events.

Book now!

Who should attend Cambridge Graphene Days 2015? #CGD15 | 5-6 November

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Cambridge Graphene Days 2015 | #CGD15 | 5-6 November 2015
For the full brochure, please call or email CIR at 01223 303500 (UK) and jacqueline@cir-strategy.com
Who should attend?
  1. Anyone with an interest in traction of business involving Graphene and GRMs
  2. Anyone wishing to understand barriers to adoption and use of graphene & GRMs
  3. Anyone on a science and technology watching brief for G and GRMs
  4. Anyone with a startup or entrepreneurial idea for G or GRMs
  5. Anyone with business problems to solve that might be influenced or helped by G or GRMs
  6. Those wishing to understand the full uptodate and prioritised range of applications and those nearer to and further from market
  7. Anyone wanting to get an IPR landscape & investment level update for G and GRMs
  8. Anyone wanting to meet new industrial and business entrants into the G and GRM areas
  9. People wanting to build quality networks or ecosystems in this set of fields
  10. Sector specific players seeking to access solution providers
  11. Solutions providers seeking to understand customer pull in a range of sectors
  12. Those in related areas of technology such as nanotech, IoT, cleantech who wish to see the potential and synergies with G and GRMs

Booking is open at http://www.hvm-uk.com/graphene2015/register

or please call +44 (0)1223 303500 for Maya, Justin or Jacqueline for options to sponsor, exhibit-speak, exhibit, attend this exciting festival of events over 2 days at the opening of the new building for the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

The CIR Team & the CGC look forward to greeting you 5-6 November in Cambridge, UK for CGD15.

Justin, Maya, Jacqueline, Nicholas

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Haydale Named Lead Sponsor for Cambridge Graphene Days 2015

Haydale Ltd., a leader in the development of enhanced graphene and nanoparticulate materials, has announced its decision to sponsor the Cambridge Graphene Days (5-6 November 2015).

The Cambridge Graphene Days is a prime event for networking and learning more about the latest advances in commercialising Graphene and related materials in sectors such as electronics, displays, energy storage, composite, packaging, aerospace & defence and automotive. The festival of events includes a program of events to be held mainly in Cambridge’s new Graphene Building, with an exhibition of technology and tours of labs as well as a media event, conference and dinner at King’s College.

Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale commented ”The Cambridge hub is one of the pre-eminent places to go for the highest quality science and application skills. As a leading technological solution provider to this rapidly evolving market sector it made great sense to support this centre of excellence covering graphene and related nano materials, . We believe the conferences and workshops at the Cambridge Graphene Days will showcase the adoption and use of the graphene materials in real products. Haydale’s functionalised graphene technology already is providing ground breaking benefits to organisations involved with composite materials, conductive inks and next generation battery technology”.

Professor Andrea Ferrari added “We are very much looking forward to our Cambridge Graphene Day on the 5th of November, when we will showcase industrial applications of graphene and related materials. We are also excited to be hosting high value manufacturing-oriented meetings on the site of the Cambridge Graphene Centre”

For further information on leading edge functionalised graphene application solutions please visit www.haydale.com or contact Haydale Ltd. on +44-1269-842946 / info@haydale.com.

To book to join and learn more about participating in the Cambridge Graphene Days #CGD15 please visit http://www.hvm-uk.com/graphene2015

Haydale , based in South Wales, UK and housed in a purpose-built facility for processing and handling nanomaterials, is facilitating the application of graphenes and other nanomaterials in fields such as inks, sensors, energy storage, photovoltaics, composites, paints and coatings. Haydale has developed a patent-pending proprietary scalable plasma process to functionalise graphene and other nanomaterials.

Cambridge Graphene Days #CGD15 please visit http://www.hvm-uk.com/graphene2015

What can services business learn from private schools pricing strategies?

What an incredible statistic: independent school tuition fees have been rising at over 3% faster rates than inflation and even over 1.25% above property price growth over the long run, i.e. for at least 20 years.

Let’s look at the cost of private school in the last 20 years since 1995.

Let us take 1995 as a benchmark and say that this year is our benchmark for the value of money, for cost of school fees and property prices. I.e. We set them all to 100.

In 2015, CPI inflation has grown that notional 100 to 217 (at an annual average growth rate (“CAGR”) of 3.9%). This is a little above what I had assumed, but we must run with the data from the ONS.

Property prices (Cambridgeshire as a proxy, approximately at or slightly above national average) have risen to 310 (CAGR of 5.85%). Quite a clip.

Staff wages have risen above inflation, but more slowly over the same period of time. Food prices have risen at slightly below inflation levels with competitive pressure high.

But school fees have beaten not just inflation, but even property prices and stand in 2015 at 400 (CAGR 7.15%), a factor of 4 times our 1995 level, and nearly double the result of CPI inflation.

Your 2 children’s schooling now cost you that of almost 4 children from 1995! That’s grim!

Said another way still, each and every year for the last 20 years, school fees have risen at a rate 3.2% higher than inflation.

Yet the statement from school governors when they increase them again in 2015 by say 3.8%, with inflation at just 0.3% or lower, is that they cannot increase them by anything less because of increasing costs. How can that be the case for such a long time? And why are local schools all increasing at exactly the same rate to exactly the same prices?

UK Independent Schools offer a highly valuable service to parents. Was it Aristotle who said that “the educated differ from the uneducated as the living from the dead”.  An exaggeration by the philosopher, no doubt, but we get the point.

Of course there should be a good fall-back, the best possible state system should exist. So should many different types of independent school and also homeschooling. These schools or “homes” should offer all forms of education ideally at a wide range of prices to suit all budgets and children’s needs and interests.

But the current situation appears to be that the schools do not “compete”. Anecdotal research showed that the cost of three local independent prep schools was to all intents and purposes identical. Literally a few pounds difference in totals of over £4,500 a term. They will argue that they all have the same requirements. But businesses often cannot do this. (They must genuinely compete with each other. The smartest way, though, is not by competing on price, and in the long run, killing margins.) Given the massive 3.2% average long run increase in fees, why is there still little variation in fees across schools in a given locale?

Surely it would be a better hypothesis that schools are knowingly raising their fees annually on the long run at the same rate as their customer’s (the richest 5-10% of households) wealth is increasing. They are spending some of the extra money in an “assets arms race”, such as new halls, swimming pools, etc, and further monies may be passed to increase the annual return to their overarching Foundations (e.g. another educational institution). That top few percent, if they have a balance of wealth between property, shares and increasing work income, might well track the “inflation plus 3.2%” rate that the schools have stuck to. If schools didn’t track this wealth, then they might find over time that there would be more applicants and they would have to be more selective. Perhaps they do have a degree of such selection even at this long run rate of fee increase.

The private schools look at the value delivered, its cost, and the ability & willingness of parents to pay. That is the real 3-dimensional equation. The schools have understood this. Services businesses which haven’t understood this may be able to improve outcomes by adapting their pricing strategy in this way.

Such schools are powerful and some stakeholders may not want to put their heads over the parapet. Parents, for example, could at best try to argue for all stakeholder needs to be considered and basically those struggling to keep up with the blistering pace of increase might plead for clemency (with data) at PTA meetings going into the future. The schools are excellent, however, and it is unlikely that for the next 20 years we will observe fees rising at below inflation to compensate for the previous 20-year trend.

But it is nevertheless a tad inaccurate for governors to write letters saying one thing when the other is apparently the truth. This is no place for euphemism: anxiety levels among parents are at an all-time high.

School governors increase their fees so to track the wealth of their customers not just to cover their basic costs.

Of course the actual fee paid is mitigated somewhat by a certain number of reduced-cost possibilities, which the ISC states covers around a third of all places in 2014, under the general banner of “bursaries”.

Parents placing their children in independent school must make an allowance for this rapid growth in costs. If the children attend from age 5 through to 18, then assuming the previous trends carry on in this way, they must factor in that the costs will be a massive 55% higher in real terms when their children reach 18 compared to 5.

Top 4 Frogs Being Boiled in Gradually-Heated Water

1. Growth of government taxation

You know the old stories. Napoleon levied an income tax to support his wars 200 years ago. This was supposed at the time to be temporary. But it stuck.

When the patriots decided to fight the British, it was over tax on goods at just 2%! 125 years later income tax in the USA was 7% rising to 39% for people earning today’s equivalent of $11 million. That 39% was their “supertax”. It was unthinkable to charge normal people more than 7% tax. Today, that same supertax kicks in in the UK at just £30,000 or so, and millions pay it.

Corporation tax was brought in much later, again during a war, and again, it was meant to be temporary. Message: new interventions are not temporary, and they tend to start on the fringes and by stealth they hit more and more people.

 

2. Growth of government spending

It is clear that government spending is on a very long run upward trend. Let us restrict ourselves to the last 100 years or so to the beginning of the first world war, when spending was less than 15% of GDP. Public pensions were tiny, in their infancy. There was no national health project. People knew their doctors. Doctors were pillars of society who made their wealthier clients pay at the full rate, and helped, sometimes with the assistance of those wealthier clients, the poorer ones. Generally people were concerned with the balance of trade. They believed in cutting the cloth, living within your means and so on.

But more than that: poorer people did not expect to be helped by the richer. There was dignity: they wanted to be self-reliant. They did not feel that they had a claim on the money of the richer people. Many of them would feel uncomfortable in accepting any offered help. Giving was a choice for the richer. And in turn, it was harder to give to people to help them in need. There was dignity among both “categories” wealthy and needy. Perhaps there was less envy. There was certainly less coercion and control from governments, while people and communities supported each other and adapted according to their situations. That is the rose-tinted picture of the UK before the first world war. How untrue is it?

3. Growth of the number of government areas of intervention

We have also invented a maze of other taxes, special reliefs and the effect has been to swell the bureaucracy and support an entire industry of accountants in the public and private sector. This is reflected in many tens and hundreds of thousands of pages of “tax code and law”.

To my mind, if we all had the physicist’s mindset, one of approximation and simplification, we would never have gone in the direction we have. Instead, the bean-counter mindset has prevailed, and complications have mushroomed.

Just as an exercise, I call for a competition to write down, from scratch, a “One Page Tax Code”, let’s call it the One Page Tax Code Project, in which there is a prize for the best and simplest such document, which could plausibly give a greatly simplified alternative to the hopeless and unintuitive spaghetti of taxation that we currently entertain, to our great cost and lack of competitiveness. Ideally, such a one-pager should enable, for example, individuals to calculate their income tax (if any is included) in their heads, and likewise (if any included) corporation tax. The one-pager should indicate what level of funding might be expected or is supposed to be obtained from the new system (and again for some, the exact amount might be tweaked by changing just one, or two, variables in the very simple system).

I believe one could slash the code right down, without upsetting many people. We’d be unimaginably more efficient and effective. We’d be releasing so many bureaucrats to pull with not against us economically. We’d also be making life easier and less tedious for so many people in businesses and jobs around the country.

This is fun! Let’s do it…

4. Growth of government

This follows directly from the above trends. It’s been growing for centuries in the UK. Is this inexorable? When does it become “too much”? Did we reach that many years ago, and should we now push back?

In the 20th century, apart from falls from extremely high levels of GDP spend just after both world wars, only Margaret Thatcher succeeded in reducing government and spending as a fraction of total GDP. She, seemingly very modestly, reduced it by about 5 percentage points from 43.5% to 39% between the 11 years of 1979 and 1990, i.e. an average rate of decrease of less than half a point a year. But within 6 months of her overthrow and other conservatives taking on power, it had all been erased and we back at the highest level again! That modest reduction over such a long period of time caused such ructions (or were those ructions just inherent to that era, that situation?) It is hard to see how any current politicians would be able to achieve such a thing. Most of them don’t want to. Incredibly, they want to continue to intervene more, not less! Extraordinary!

The alternative is further growth over time of government…brings me back to the title of this blog. That is what we face.

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Like the frogs, we don’t jump out soon enough. We simply get cooked.