I prefer to become reasonably familiar with the state-of-the-art and patent situation first, before trying to generate new ideas on a problem. I don't believe that the uninformed mind is the more creative. However, I have a very questioning and sceptical attitude towards what is accepted knowledge, and am adept at doing "outside the box" thinking. I also like to apply knowledge from one field to another where it may not have been exploited; this ability is facilitated by my long industrial experience.
I look at industrial research as an investment. A portion of a company's research portfolio might well be devoted to high risk/high payoff exploratory work, but even here, I think it is most productive if, where the technology has a high degree of uncertainty, the market should be rather firmly established, or, if the market is uncertain, the technology should be rather well assured. In other words, it is best to work on a new process/product for a known use, or on a new use for a known process/product; and to avoid having high degrees of uncertainty in both factors. Also, don't neglect the reliable payoff from incremental technology and cost improvements. I can usually be helpful in devising new products or processes, debottlenecking, process improvements, finding alternative (often lower cost) starting materials or alternative sources, utilization or minimization of byproducts, and finding acceptable ways to avoid troublesome patents.Return to main page.