Small Talk: the story of your life – and a tale of modern business

Who says British companies can't be entrepreneurial as well as inventive? Meet OMG, the Oxford-based technology business which will today unveil its first foray into the retail sector: a new type of camera that stands a genuine chance of changing the market.

OMG's Autographer is a camera you can wear (round your neck, or clipped on to your clothes). It incorporates motion and light sensors and will take up to 2,000 photos a day as you go about your business with a lens that has broadly the same breadth of vision as the human eye.

The idea is to automatically capture moments both seen and unseen. OMG reckons it would be ideal, for example, to record the events of a stag do, a family day out or your bike ride to work. "It will occupy a space somewhere between video and stills photography," says Nick Bolton, the chief executive of OMG. "The idea is that your pictures will tell a story."

Priced at £399, the Autographer isn't cheap, but its back story makes interesting reading. OMG, which specialise in motion capture and a range of similar technologies, first developed the idea in conjunction with Microsoft's research team in Cambridge, to help people suffering from early-onset dementia recall details of their days where their short-term memories were failing. Having spotted the potentially broader appeal of the device, OMG teamed up with the media agency BBH, which has taken a stake in the venture in lieu of payment for its help, in order to develop it for the consumer market.

Mr Bolton, in his second stint at OMG, says he made "unearthing the gems" a priority when returning to the business. The implication is that the company's long-standing track record of innovation had not always been successfully commercialised.

It's a familiar story – British companies do not have a great track record when it comes to taking new products to market. Small businesses and individual inventors aren't short on ideas but they don't always get the support they need to develop them. Sometimes mavericks succeed against the odds by going it alone – Sir James Dyson springs to mind. More often, valuable intellectual capital is acquired by overseas developers, or simply lost.

Companies such as OMG buck the trend, but how do we ensure that there are more such stories? Well, one answer is to incentivise companies more generously to turn innovation into commercial success.

On that front, SMEs need to begin getting to grips with the "Patent Box'" taxation changes that take effect in six months' time. From April next year, they'll be entitled to pay lower rates of corporation tax on income generated by their own innovations (in practice, there are a wide range of qualifying criteria).

It's a really interesting idea. While tax benefits have always been available for businesses putting money into research and development, this is the first time the saving is so closely linked to commercial success. Let's hope it encourages more stories like the Autographer.

Bankers launch trading platform

An exchange listing for small chunks of stock can prove expensive and time-consuming. Look out for Asset Match, a new idea from two former investment bankers, which is launching this week. It aims to provide an online platform through which investors trade shares in privately owned small and medium-sized companies.

Bridge links Britain and Norway

Bridge, the North Sea oil and gas explorer and producer, makes its debut on the Alternative Investment Market on Thursday, and expects to be capitalised at £78m.

Bridge makes smart use of the tax rules in the UK and Norway, where many of its developments are situated, in order to make exploration more affordable. It has cash in the bank to the tune of $44m, as well as banking lines worth another $30m. It also has a number of developments where analysts expect imminent news.

The investment researcher Edison points out that the company is valued far less generously than peers such as Faroe and Valiant, and says a listing "could well make Bridge one of the best-value exploration and production stocks on the London market".

Small business man of the week: Jonny Goldstone, managing director, Greentomatocars

We launched our taxi business in 2006. We knew we wanted to set up a green business that would show people this sort of company didn't have to be expensive or to compromise on quality, and we settled on the car trade because it was an industry where we felt we could improve on a limited reputation for customer service.

"Our target audience from day one was corporates with a genuine corporate and social responsibility strategy and those that wanted to show customers and clients they were working this way. It was an immediate hit.

"We began with four Prius cars to service 50 accounts, and early on we met James Murdoch, who got us in to work with BSkyB, which really added to the pressure.

"The growth trajectory since then has been constant and steep – we now have 300 vehicles and we'll do 350,000 trips this year. We expect to turn over £8m.

"It has been challenging – we've had to watch cashflow very carefully, but we've also had to work on our corporate culture. We want to feel like a family business, but that gets harder to maintain – I knew the names of each of the first 100 drivers we had, plus the names of many of their families, but that can't continue forever.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all