Paul Gregory from Dyson will be one of the speakers at the next Workspace Business Insights Dinner at Kennington Park on 2 February. He tells us more about how the Dyson team designs innovative products over and over again.

When you think of British innovation, it’s likely that the name Dyson will spring to mind. The company is known as much for its idiosyncratic founder and iconic inventions as it is for being a British blueprint for spectacular business growth. Dyson started in 1993 with James Dyson and three engineers. The company has now grown to over 7000 employees in over 70 countries.

Paul Gregory, Global Specification Director for Dyson Professional Solutions, will be one of the speakers at the Workspace Business Insight Dinner that is held in partnership with Knowledge Peers at Workspace Kennington on February 2nd. He is responsible for the specification team that work with architects and designers to integrate Dyson solutions into their building designs.

We will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast on February 2nd. Find out more here.

Paul was originally head of global sales for both B2B and B2C customers, for Jake Dyson Products in 2015, the company set up by James Dyson's son. Specialising in self-cooling LED light fixtures, the business was incorporated into the larger Dyson company in April 2016. According to a fascinating interview in Forbes, many of Dyson's new products – they'll be launching at least 100 new products by 2020, in which they are investing hundreds of millions of dollars – will be related to personal care or lighting.

Dyson's most famous invention, the vacuum cleaner, has just got a 21-st century reboot. In August last year, they released the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum in the UK, after trials in Japan. The 360-degree camera maps out the space and then the robot works out the most efficient path for cleaning.

It might make your cleaning routine more simple, but the design process was anything but. They spent 17 years developing the eye robot and worked on 1,000-plus prototypes. This is a significant financial investment, Paul reveals.

We now spend more than £5m per week on research design and development.

Paul Gregory, global specification director, Dyson Professional Solutions

 

This strategy is part of the company's D&A: 'We celebrate failure and learn from it, making our product better by design.'

'Out of the hundreds of possible new products only a few actually make it to market. We heavily research each category long before a product is conceived to see where we may add value.'

The emphasis on R&D is also reflected in the makeup of the business: 'We have over 3000 engineers that are constantly looking at the world around us and how we might make it better,' Paul explains.

Dyson's commitment to innovation is almost mythical. As well as ploughing money back into R&D, the company is famous for hiring young engineers, many of them recent graduates, and the average age of engineers is 26. He wants to double his engineer workforce to 6,000 by 2020. Dyson staff famously carries around yellow and black notebooks, ready to write down any light bulb moments.

Innovation is encouraged throughout the organisation, not just with the engineers.

Paul Gregory, global specification director, Dyson Professional Solutions

 

The environment is heavily geared towards encouraging creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship - in a British way, of course. 'Our global headquarters in Malmesbury is surrounded by design icons such as a Harrier Jump Jet, Lightning Jet, bicycles and other great inventions, to inspire young minds,' says Paul.

These inventions are meant to symbolise that Dyson isn't about jumping on trends (if you're making 1,000+ prototypes, that's virtually impossible) but about servicing timeless consumer needs. 'Science, research and testing influences our innovation,' Paul tells me. 'Our machines are not influenced by style trends but engineered from the inside out, solving problems that others ignore.'

 

'Technology can either help or hinder our experiences in life. When something doesn’t work properly it has a negative impact. We engineer better technology and then explain how they work and how they are better. We then look after our owners.'

You can see the results of this approach in the Dyson hairdryer, a machine that causes less heat damage to the hair and is virtually silent. The latter feature doesn't seem that important, until you realise that you can talk while using the product. If you're a woman who blow-dries her hair, you'll immediately understand that it makes life easier.

This emphasis on finding solutions to common problems explains why Dyson is famous for zealously guarding its patents - Paul's advice for New and Growing Companies is common sense: 'Ensure you use NDAs and protect yourself before sharing any IP.'

James Dyson owns approximately 7,500 global patents, according to IFI Claims Patent Services and he was instrumental in getting David Cameron's government to reduce income taxes on patented products. They're spending the money they save on – you guessed it – R&D.

A lot of this R&D is on solid-state batteries - in order to replace current rechargeable batteries. With these, Dyson aims to rival Elon Musk's liquid lithium-ion technology. Its current focus on battery power seems to reflect Theresa May's changing approach. According to sources, the Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport is looking at options to make Britain a world leader in battery and energy storage technology.

It's a fascinating time to look at a company that's a world leader in tech and design in a uniquely British setting.


Paul Gregory will be talking more about what makes a company owned by one man, started more than two decades ago, and worth approximately $4.8 billion, so innovative.

Workspace Business Insight Dinners are organised in collaboration with Knowledge Peers. They are designed to be an interesting mix of ‘live’ case studies of senior directors from New and Growing Companies who have encountered a relevant challenge, together with Q&A with industry experts. Directors, founders and other senior leaders from customers across Workspace’s portfolio are invited to attend this complimentary event. Please find out more here.

For those that cannot attend, we will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information. For those that cannot attend, we will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information.  Find out more here.

Follow @workspacegroup and @knowledgepeers for up-to-date information.