The UK has under-performed the USA with regards to commercialization for decades now. I left the UK in the early 1990s because I recognized I had little chance of creating and building successful startup companies there. In California I co-founded five startups. The main reasons the UK lags California so starkly are as follows:

UK investment firms are far more risk-averse than US venture firms

UK culture is terrified of failure whereas Silicon Valley sees failure as a valuable learning experience

UK companies invariably appoint an accountant as Managing Director of the nascent startup, which means there’s a failure to focus on marketing & sales to the degree necessary to turbocharge growth, enter new segments, and undertake potentially risky innovations

The result is that while the UK does produce significant intellectual property, it doesn’t take that IP and turn it into great companies. As a graduate of Oxford University I’ve seen the problem up close. ISIS Innovations is the organization tasked with taking novel IP developed within the University and commercializing it. Their track record is abysmal compared to Stanford, and they fall into the “appoint a Chartered Accountant to run things” trap nearly every single time. ISIS is staffed by the wrong people, thinking in the wrong ways. The results are therefore sadly predictable.

So if even Oxford University can’t learn from experience and finally get it right, the future will remain bleak.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.