Scotland and England Trip Blog

May 13-21, 2011

From February until the end of May we will offer insights, photos and an insider’s look at this vibrant “traveling university.” Check back frequently for updates!

Wednesday, June 15

Scotland Can Teach us Something About Marketing

Of course the trip was wonderful and enlightening throughout. In Scotland, we were impressed with the many similarities between Scotland and the PNW (good universities, life sciences focus, population, distance from the real hubs of our respective countries, and cloudy weather).

But, for me, the trip up the Clyde River in Glasgow put things in perspective. As laudable is the cleanup of Glasgow, the Clyde is simply the Duamish. Greater Seattle also has the Elliot Bay waterfront, South Lake Union, Lake Washington, the San Juans, the Tacoma waterfront, etc. In Life Sciences, we have the Hutch, the Gates , and the UW…and much more. The same for universities, etc. The truth is, for all the wonders and developments that Scotland has, their best strength—and something at which they truly excel—is in packaging and marketing themselves. They underpin their marketing with a long and proud heritage. In this regard, Jillian (or Julian) of Scottish Enterprise was quite articulate in telling our group that this is not a game to rest on one’s laurels. Seattle’s vice, I think! While Greater Seattle’s heritage is less deep, it is a proud one and we have better attributes to overlay on it. As Monte said, “Greater Seattle rocks!” But we need to step up our game in promoting ourselves to a very competitive world.

But, our delegation moved on to London and this put not only Edinburgh/Glasgow in perspective, but also Seattle. We can be greater than we are and we should aim to be the very best/most progressive and dynamic region in the world. But we are not and will never be London. Ditto New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong.

Bill Glassford

Scotland Loves Seattle – and So Should We!

One of the takeaways that I don’t see in the report, but which a number of us spoke about on the trip is:

It was very clear from our visits in all three cities, that Seattle is known, respected and admired far beyond our own borders. In fact, those from afar think a lot more of us than we tend to think ourselves. There is a tendency to self-deprecate in Seattle which is part modesty, part populist, part focus on what needs to be improved. But we saw in Edinburgh and Glasgow a level of civic pride and a willingness to be self-promoters that I know organizations like Enterprise Seattle project to visiting delegations, but which is absent from our more general public discourse.

I think that the Seattle Study Mission is an attempt to rectify this; the regional/business/economy promotion piece of our Comprehensive Plan addresses it. So a big takeaway for me was that we need to find ways to deliberately and publicly celebrate ourselves. We are world class in many arenas, and we don’t talk enough about it.

Skip Kotkins

Thursday, May 19

Information will be Free

The University of Glasgow is giving away its intellectual property…or at least licensing some of it. Kevin Cullen, director of research and enterprise for the University, told our delegation about their unique technology transfer program. Cullen noted that technology transfer offices of universities generate most of their revenue from only a small percentage of the technology they license. But, they spend most of their time dealing with the other intellectual property. The U of G decided to essentially give that information away for free. Universities exist to generate and disseminate knowledge, Cullen said. Licensing most of that knowledge at no cost creates better relations with companies and is a more efficient way of using the knowledge generated at the university. The University’s tech transfer office determines which IP is worth licensing and goes through the normal process in commercializing that in a revenue model. For the rest, a company only has to fill out a one page form to use the IP. The company must credit the university when using this knowledge and often works with the professor on future projects given the good will generated.

One or two other UK higher education institutions are looking to emulate the University of Glasgow model. It may be something for our schools to examine.

Wednesday, May 18

Gliding the Clyde

The Greater Seattle area, from Tacoma through Seattle and the eastside and up to Everett, is engaged in a variety of waterfront development efforts. Today our delegation saw the Clyde River redevelopment efforts up close by boat while meeting with Derek McCrindle, Director and Mark Barton, markeing manager of the Clyde Waterfront. They describe past, current and future efforts to turn the Clyde River into a clean, vibrant waterfront that is an asset to the city. We also heard from Pat McCarthy, Pierce County Executive on the Urban Waters initiative in Pierce County as well as from Patricia Akiyama of the Port of Seattle and Jared Smith at Parsons Brinckerhoff on central Seattle waterfront efforts. McCrindle and Barton said the key to their success was making sure people were connected to the waterfront. All the grand designs will mean nothing unless it is done in a way that brings people to the water, they said.

Monday, May 16

He Scooorrrres!

The School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh is one of the most leading edge informatics research centers in the world. The University and Informatics School are global in outlook with a huge number of international students and faculty. They showed us some of their cutting edge technology, including a prosthetic arm made by Touch Bionics in which the University of Washington provided consultation help. They also participate in RoboCup, a competition with autonomous robots playing soccer. See the exciting shoot out in the video below (please ignore the strange man cackling in the background). The Sounders will be recruiting the little guy soon.

Monday, May 16

It’s About the Economy…

The 2011 International Study Mission got started in earnest today with a full agenda of meetings, presentations and demonstrations. The morning began with a presentation by Dave Anderson, Director of City Development for the City of Edinburgh. Anderson walked us briskly through Edinburgh’s efforts to grow its economy. A panel of three of our region’s economic development experts-Maud Daudon, chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber; Chris Endresen, director of economic development for the Puget Sound Regional Council and Jeff Marcell, president and CEO of enterpriseSeattle-discussed our region’s economic development efforts. Julian Taylor with Scottish Enterprise provide a reaction to our economic development efforts.

It was a good dialogue to start the day. Taylor and Sam Kaplan of the Trade Development Alliance are already working on follow up from the meeting to build economic ties between the two regions.

May 6, 2011

Dramatic Scottish Elections

Some elections are counted and forgotten within weeks while others have a huge impact on the course of history. We will arrive in Scotland right after an election that may fall in the latter category when the SNP took majority control of parliament:

After the most dramatic election Scotland has ever seen, SNP candidates swept to victory in areas they could never have imagined winning, taking the scalps of some of Labour’s biggest hitters and ousting LibDems and Conservatives from previously safe seats.

Alex Salmond becomes First Minister and almost assuredly there will be a referendum on Scottish Independence from the rest of the UK. What this will mean for David Cameron’s coalition is still unclear but this election will undoubtedly reverberate during our time in London as well. The 2011 International Study Mission flies across the pond next week into roiling waters.

April 28, 2011

Keynes vs. Hayek: Rapping on the UK Austerity Measures

In London we’ll examine the UK austerity measures where the new coalition government prioritized reducing their debt and deficit by cutting budgets, raising taxes and instituting new fees. It’s a very controversial approach. The famous economists John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek debated the issues of government spending and how to restore prosperity last century. Their debate continues, in a hip-hop musical, that addresses many of the issues we’ll hear about in the morning in London. Enjoy.

Valley Girl in Scotland

Scotland Week in Seattle, March 29, 2011

Amazon in Scotland, February 1, 2011


Comments are closed.