Scotland’s Great Innovators – the legacy lives on

Famous for its castles, dramatic scenery, mountains and rich history, Scotland is also the birthplace of some of the World’s greatest thinkers and innovators that have helped shape the World as it is today.

The list is long, but to mention just a few – James Watt the inventor of the steam engine, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and John Logie Baird who invented the television.

Modern road construction still reflects the influence of John ‘tar’ Macadam, and the waterproof raincoat was the invention of the former Scots chemist Charles MacIntosh, which is appropriate given Scotland’s impressive rainfall statistics.

General anaesthetic was pioneered by James Simpson and Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and insulin. These are just two examples of Scottish-born pioneers in medicine and significant achievements for a country with a current population of only 5.5 million.

More recent examples include Professor Peter Higgs, awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics after proposing the existence of the Higgs boson subatomic particle, and of course the Roslin Institute team responsible for the World’s first cloned mammal, Dolly the Sheep.

The will to succeed

What these and many other great pioneers and innovators have in common is tenacity and a will to succeed. They will all have gone through the rigorous processes of trial and error and experienced failure in the pursuit of their ambitions. There may also have been an element of financial or personal risk to life in their endeavours.

Despite this, the risks associated with innovation are often outweighed by the dangers of inactivity and standing still. But many organisations are still risk averse and reluctant to advocate for innovative or pioneering ventures in favour of smaller incremental projects. This puts them at a disadvantage with competitors that adopt a more robust perspective.

Embracing change and managing risk

In 2022, IMET opened its European HQ in France to meet the changing needs of a rapidly evolving market. The new facility includes pioneering metal cleaning technology that ensures efficient and increased throughput, whilst reducing our carbon footprint and maximising the potential of reused material in new melts.

Expectedly, the new technology has presented some challenges, but the ability to implement innovations to drive new ways of doing business is a major factor in how a company moves forward to meet increased demand.

We are fortunate to have a team of engineering expertise – not just in Scotland but across all our global sites who have worked collaboratively to overcome those initial issues. To witness first-hand such a positive team mindset is a reminder that innovation just doesn’t happen by chance.

As demonstrated by those great innovators of the past, it also takes drive, ambition, and commitment to get there.

Qualities that are abundant throughout all our teams!