Speech to the inaugural BusinessGreen Technology Awards...
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the inaugural BusinessGreen Technology Awards.
And thank you for joining us in London's historic/notorious East End - I mean, world-renowned, cutting-edge digital hub.
The transformation that has occurred just down the road at Silicon Roundabout over the past decade is testament to how quickly technology can change all our lives.
It is testament of how a community of companies, working in competition and co-operation, can rapidly turn hype into tangible commercial success and real world technological breakthroughs.
It is testament to how just a handful of innovators and engineers can build whole new industries that just a few years before were dismissed as a pipedream - if they were thought about at all.
But the stort of Silicon Roundabout is also a transformation that, you know and I know, for all the headlines it has commanded in recent years, represents just a footnote to the global revolution that is quietly underway in the field of clean technology.
A revolution that promises to take the first industrial revolution, the post-war manufacturing revolution, and the digital revolution, and integrate them and build on them in a way that delivers a truly sustainable global economy.
The challenge and the prize is that big.
At BusinessGreen we are lucky enough to write every day about these inspiring clean technologies and the transformations they are enabling.
From the energy storage giga-factories to the laser optimised wind farms, from the solar power generating glass to the metal that is light enough to rest on a dandelion, from the underwater wave powered kites to the electric superbikes, we get to report on game-changing technologies each and every day.
And of course we get to report on all of you. The innovative, inimitable, and inspirational companies that are dedicated to delivering the technologies that will both build a more sustainable and productive economy and tackle the grave environmental challenges we all face.
But today is about more than simply reporting on your many achievements.
Today we want to celebrate the best and the brightest in British clean technology.
To demonstrate that quietly, without commanding the headlines it deserves, a huge success story has been surrepticiously enacted.
A success story that has slashed energy use since the turn of the century.
A success story that has seen the UK's share of clean energy soar to record levels.
A success story that have seen the green economy deliver significantly higher growth than the wider economy year after year, even as policy support for the sector has been eroded and the political climate has become ever more hostile - as evidenced once again this week.
And today is also about saying thank you.
Firstly, thank you for entering these inaugural awards and supporting BusinessGreen.
We had over 100 entries to these awards that did not make the shortlist, so huge congratulations on becoming a finalist and good luck to everyone.
The judges were united in their praise for the innovation and ingenuity on display in all of the entries. Sadly, not everyone can be a winner, but, if it is any consolation, which of course it won't be, you truly are amongst the best and brightest in British clean tech.
Secondly, thank you to Lord Drayson to agreeing to deliver our keynote address. Lord Drayson is, of course, one of the UK's foremost technologists, a former science minister, and a powerful advocate of the clean tech sector. We look forward to hearing his thoughts on how to build on the industry's recent successes and overcome its many challenges.
Thirdly, thanks, once again, to all of you for your continued work and commitment in delivering the technologies the world so desperately needs.
It won't have escaped your notice that next week the world's leaders gather in Paris for a crucial summit on climate change.
The meeting comes at a critical point in not just the long running negotiations, but human history - and, no, that is not hyperbole.
The technologies we need to decarbonise the global economy either exist or are in the pipeline, but the window to deploy them in a way that successfully tackles climate change risks and drives sustainable development is closing fast.
Consequently, regardless of the outcome of the Paris Summit - and let's all hope it is a success - a huge amount depends on the work being undertaken by you and your peers, on the technologies you are developing, and the business models you are building.
Which brings me to my final point, before we can enjoy our meal and get on with the serious business of the awards and the less serious business of the after-party.
It is important you are recognised for this work, not just today, through the BusinessGreen Technology Awards, but every day, through the media, through investment, through political priorities, and through public perception.
So, if I can finish by asking a favour of all of you, please tell the world about what you do, about the challenges you face and the opportunities you are seizing.
Don't hide your LED light under a smoke stack.
Every technological transition faces its challenges.
The first industrial revolution faced the luddites;
the gas lamp faced fierce criticism from the whalers who could not understand we no longer needed to hunt animals to extinction to light our city streets;
the introduction of the car faced the railroads orchestrated campaign to cripple the sector with regulations that required people to walk in front of the first cars carrying red flags;
the digital revolution continues to face the Daily Mail and its overblown fears of 'sinister' smart fridges, not to mention my Dad and his on-going refusal to turn his mobile phone on.
It will, again, not have escaped your notice that the clean tech sector faces powerful opposition from organisations and ideologues who find it easier to defy scientific and economic reality than envisage a better way of doing things.
It is up to you as pioneers of the clean tech revolution to challenge them and their narrow and tired vision of a world clinging to business-as-usual.
It is up to you to deliver on the promise of this most important of sectors.
It is up to you to let everyone you can know this is the most exciting, most innovative, and, yes, most essential sector in the world right now.
After all, just like today, it is recognition you fully deserve.
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