Have you noticed how many people these days are 'passionate about IT'. It's on every CV you look at, every Twitter or LinkedIn profile. If I was affected by this condition I'd keep quiet about it. But oh no, everyone has to talk about their problems these days, as if it's a positive.
Passionate people are always committing crimes, according to the mid market tabloids I read. As if that wasn't bad enough, they always seem to get bounced back on the streets with a slap on the wrist from some bleeding heart judge.
I know it's not trendy to say this, but I think being passionate is counterproductive. I'll go further – it's unprofessional.
IT is a people business. Think of all the respected professions that deal respectfully with people. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, counsellors. They all care about their respective charges, but not too much. One thing they all have in common is that they are dispassionate. If a doctor or a nurse became too involved with each of the problems of their patients, they'd soon go mad or start drinking heavily. As indeed, some do.
I'm not likening IT to medicine, but I do think we should draw a line over some of the crazier projections that we make. So with this in mind, the judges at Cambridge Wireless's Discovering Start-Ups 2012 competition took a dispassionate view of the finalists who pitched to them.
The 20 judges included senior executives from Broadcom, Vodafone Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Google, Orange, TTP Ventures, Cambridge Business Angels and Silicon Valley Bank. The companies that came out on top were Anvil Semiconductor, D-RisQ, Skin Analytics, Smart Antenna Technologies and TopLogic.
Anvil Semiconductor is creating an alternative to silicon for semi conductors. Silicon carbide could be cheaper and more powerful than pure silicon-based chip sets used in wind turbines, electric cars and solar panels. If, that is, they can overcome a few transistor glitches, the rewards will be a leading share of a $23bn power semiconductor market. Let's hope they achieve it. We should all get behind them. Are they getting all the support they need though?
If Malvern based D-RisQ had a company song, it would be along the lines of “Development can only get better”. D-RisQ plans to simplify and streamline development systems so successfully that projects will cost 80 per cent less, while maximising compliance. Would that mean that more development could be done in the UK? Perhaps D-RisQ can tell us.
Smart Antenna Technologies from Bath has invented a single-antenna technology for portable devices that could be invaluable as 4G networks take off. But have they got the 4G handset makers on board? What are they doing to reach those companies? Surely this is where you need a technology agent, who can introduce the right inventors to the right people. Technology is a bit like show business now. You don't get anywhere unless you can get an introduction, no matter how great your technology is.
Another Bath-based company, TopicLogic, caught the eye with a web service that helps you find and share your files, wherever they are. What do they do that, say, Box and other file shifters don't? Are they more secure?
Finally, there was Skin Analytics from Cambridge. Its cloud-based service isn't exactly a cure for cancer, but it's the next best thing: it helps prevent cancer from spreading. How? It uses smartphones to monitor small changes in moles to detect melanoma skin cancers. E-health is a massive multi-billion dollar market. It would be nice to hear from Skin Analytics how they're going to execute on this brilliant idea. Are any NHS clinics or GPs pioneering its use?
Unlike on Dragons Den, the contestants at this event didn't have to walk up a flight of stairs before pitching to sneery judges. Yes, that's less dramatic, but it's actually kinder to the contestants. That illustrates the difference between passion and dispassion.
This was first published in November 2012